So, mini-review for the new BBC series “The Musketeers,” one episode in.
I liked the cinematography, the costumes, the editing, the direction, and most of the casting except for d’Artagnan and Athos (good actors, but not the right ones for the characters.) I sort of liked the music, meaning I liked the composition, arrangements, and execution well enough but I didn’t really like the way it was used; however, that’s a minor point.
But I didn’t like the writing.
I don’t mean the fact that it doesn’t follow Alexandre Dumas’s book; I’m not a stickler, and I greatly enjoy some bold adaptations and re-imaginings of old favourites like Sherlock, Elementary, Much Ado About Nothing, etc. I don’t even mind the historical inaccuracies like the accuracy and readiness of firearms or Milady sporting an off-the-shoulder dress; Dumas himself played fast and loose with historical accuracy.
But I just could not understand why one would change the story so much if it wasn’t to bring something that would work better, not worse, on screen. The story lacked the zest of the original book in the places that captured my heart long ago: d’Artagnan’s quips and wit, Athos’ allure and mystery, Aramis’ unflappable roguishness. (Porthos was done right, I’ll grant that.) The characters did not intrigue me and of all the reasons I will watch the second episode, all are in spite of the writing.
Edit: I thought the casting of Howard Charles as Porthos was the most brilliant thing in the entire show. Not only was he genuinely great, capturing the character, but as a mixed-race man he stands in for Alexandre Dumas himself, and that’s wonderful.
This weekend I sat down with five friends to play Fiasco; since the game is for 2-5 players, Edmund was kind enough to act as facilitator for the rest of us. We played Pete Douglas’ free playset “Bravazzo”:
Bravazzo! is set in the Italian city-state of Ferrara in 1435 at the dawning of the Renaissance. It fuses together the vain ambitions of the nobility, the desperate brutality of the peasantry, the venal profiteering of the merchants, and the mystical corruption of the priesthood in a con-fuse-ion of double-dealing, back-stabbing, empire building, and courtly intrigue at a time when the Reason of Man was slowly emerging from the darkness of the Middle Ages. Players will assume the roles of corrupt bishops, murderous nobility, ambitious bankers, pious priests, desperate brigands, virginal maidens, and coarse peasants, in a sordid medieval fiasco.
We set up the following characters: Father Benedetti (Steve W.), confessor to the rich and powerful.
- Relationship: He and François were related but didn’t know it
- Object: A pit filled with stakes and lime.
François de la Porte (Paul), spy and duellist.
- Relationship: He was the spy, Lady Armida was the spymaster.
- Need: To win renown as a great duellist.
Lady Armida di Aramonte de Firenze (Maureen), artist and spy master.
- Relationship: She was the genius artist, Count Luigi was her patron.
- Object: Letter of excommunication.
Count Luigi Bacciagalupi (Steve P.), noble dilettante.
- Relationship: He and Contessa Teresa were rivals at court, vying for power and land from the Duke of Ferrara.
- Location: The Hall of Games at the Castello Estense.
Contessa Teresa de Sinterra de Cavole (Sophie—that’s me), schemer always purporting to be acting on behalf of a husband never seen.