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.