The Musketeers : Friends and Enemies (BBC)

Sunday saw the premier of the BBC’s latest drama, based on The Musketeers stories by Alexander Dumas. Having my first day off work in a while I sat down to catch up with the drama today on iPlayer.

I’m not really a fan of the Musketeers in general. It has never really been story I’ve been interested in. So the show had  a lot to do in one episode to get me to tune in again on Sunday.

If I’m honest in a strange way it intrigued me to watch it again. You were introduced to the characters without physically being introduced to them. It felt like the makers thought everyone should know the main characters so why spend an episode introducing them?

And I liked it.

We had a great adventure that worked for some characters and left some without much to do, but it did enough to get people interested and I think that is the most important thing.

I have to admit I don’t know much about the cast in general (other than Peter Capaldi obviously) but I was impressed. Santiago Cabrera (Aramis) and Howard Charles (Porthos) both stood up a mile in the episode whereas I felt Tom Burke (Atos) had very little to do and Luke Pasqualino (D’Artagan) was more likable then most D’Artagan but still thoroughly annoying.

The first story saw The Musketeers having to team up with D’Artagan to clear Atos’s name, hence me saying Atos didn’t have much to do. We get to see the playfulness of both Aramis and Porthos as well as their strengths whilst they fight the Red Guard to save their friend. Atos spends most of his time standing about looking brooding, not half as good as that as Matthew Macfadyen managed in the movie a few years back, so other then being surly and a part of the group you don’t really have a feeling for how he’s going to develop. Though the love triangle between Atos, D’Artagan and Milady is already well set up.

I was left a little cold by some of the action sequences, though they were short which is a blessing, I much preferred seeing the Musketeers together figuring out what had happened. As long as the balance remains the same I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to stick it through to the end but if the action scenes get longer I doubt I’ll be able to tolerate it much.

The biggest let down for me was Capaldi’s Richelieu. I didn’t get a sense of anything from him. Personally I don’t see anything really bad about his character so far, it all seemed rather bland. I will be interested to see how he plays it later on but whilst some online are branding his actions “evil” or “terrible” or whatever I find myself agreeing with him. I’ve never read the source material and know little of that time period but to me he sounded like he was making sense!

I was far more impressed by Ryan Gage as King Louis XIII. In fact I loved his character and would not have been upset at some more scenes with him. I loved his little scene with Richelieu when he begs for his help, it was understated and showed a soft side to a man trying his hardest to look tough. Not too sure on Queen Anne yet, I quite enjoyed the actress’s portrayal in the movie which was strong and reassured, this versions seems quite meek.

I know a lot of people have said they were disappointed by the opening episode and most think the viewing figures will only drop the longer the series runs. Personally I think it was a strong first episode, there is a lot that needs improving for it to really work but it isn’t terrible like some would have you believe. I found it enjoyable right to the end of the episode.

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