I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
The BBC version of the Musketeers could be the first time they have been realised on the screen the way I imagined it. They are the swashbuckling, heroic and daredevil heroes that I always wanted them to be, in a setting that is much more accurate to their time period, rather than adding quirks or trying to make them more “super” than they actually are.
The most recent version of The Musketeers was the terrible W.S Anderson version that felt like Pirates of the Caribbean in France. Other notable versions have always had a quirk, be it animals, Leonardo Di Caprio or just poor, dull movie adaptations. The truth is, the small screen is perfect for the Musketeers.
It’s perfect because they are at their best when they have missions and adventures. It also means we don’t have to go through the whole “D’Artagnan proves himself as a Musketeer” story that seems to plague the other versions of the tv show. In fact, a tv show can actually build the characters, not just D’Artagnan but all the Musketeers.
That is one of the shows biggest strengths. Each Musketeers gets their story, their personal episode which helps build them as a well-rounded character rather than a cliché. We don’t get the Lothario, the strong brute and the natural leader but versions of these characters with added depth.
It means the season also has varied episodes, from a castle under siege, an alteration with a slaver and the season arc, involving D’Artagnan, Musketeer leader Athos and classic villain MiLady. Although this doesn’t make for the best of seasons arcs, you can’t fault the support cast for the series. Maimie McCoy is perfectly manipulative and dangerous as Milady but the show is stolen by the excellent Peter Capaldi, who is perfectly cast as Cardinal Richelieu. Capaldi manages to walk the line between villain and reluctant ally when the situation calls for it, making for a villain that is much more three-dimensional and interesting than the usual version we get. It will just be shame if we have to lose him to Doctor Who (although that piece of casting is perfect too).
The real star of the show is the action, sword-fighting and stunts. The BBC have clearly thrown everything they could at the series, making it an exciting Saturday night drama and capturing what I always imagined the Musketeers were about. The sword fighting is cool, the explosions big and the general action is exciting enough to keep your interest.
Overall, The Musketeers is as decent a version of the classic story as you can get. The stories are varied, the acting is good and the casting is almost perfect. The action is well realised, with the sword fighting, horse riding and explosions a particular highlight. I just hope they can keep this high standard, and decent cast, into future seasons.
Best Episode – The Challenge: As well as a guest appearance by Vinnie Jones, this episode also demonstrates the best of the series.
Best performance – Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu
Should there be another season? – Yes, there is plenty potential for the series and loads more Musketeers stories to be told.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)