The Musketeers: Episode 1 review

Three Musketeers become four!

The Musketeers

© BBC

BBC One’s new Sunday night drama, The Musketeers is a known tale to most (“One for all and all for one” anyone?) inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s legendary books the series gets off to a fine start excelling in everything poor-old Atlantis lacked.  It’s pacy, full of action, swashbuckling sword fights and likable heroic lead characters – with hints of a decent back-story worth exploring. Instead of the camp nemesis, we’re given proper dark villains in the shape of Peter Capaldi‘s Cardinal Richelieu and a women with a grudge, Milady de Winter (Maimie McCoy).  The female characters don’t just play the damsel in distress, but time will tell if their characters will be built on a lot more in the coming episodes.  Crucially, the characters interact with one another.

The story sees a young D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) go in search of The Musketeers; Athos, Porthos and Aramis following the murder of his father who he believes died at the hands of Athos (Tom Burke).  When D’Artagnan catches up with Athos he challenges him to a duel.  Much to the Musketeers surprise he’s very handy with a sword and fast enough to keep up with Athos. However, the fight is interrupted when the guards come to arrest Athos for murder, before they take him away he turns to D’Artagnan and tells him he’s not the man he’s looking for.

On the order of Captain Treville (Hugo Speer), The Musketeers go in search of a missing Musketeer carrying important letters on behalf of King Louis which we later discover have been retrieved by the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi).  With the letters in his possession he can hold power over the King as well as using the Red Guard to pose as the Musketeers in an attempt to disgrace them. With little time before Athos is to be hanged, D’Artagnan has little choice but to join the Musketeers to find his father’s killer and prove Athos’ innocence.

With the filming taking place in Czech Republic, the surroundings, winding streets and bohemian look add to the authenticity along with the Musketeers uniforms, peasants, filth and high production values.  It is however a surprise the BBC decided to put it at the 9pm slot on a Sunday, as it does seem perfect for the Saturday night family drama slot.  Although there’s a fair few battles and violence, none is grotesque or any less than Merlin or Robin Hood had.  The obvious reason is yet again a ratings war, seen as ITV’s second series of Mr Selfridge begins at the same time. It does however leave more opportunity for darker plots, fights, romances and for the villains to really be harsh … so I’m coming round to the idea.  A fun-filled drama that on its debut leaves me with a positive feeling for future episodes.   Don’t let me down BBC.