“The more things change the more they stay the same”
(Les Guêpes, January 1849)
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
They are ale drinking, rabble-rousers. Musket brandishing swashbucklers. Passionate and loyal, arguably, to a fault; their secrets are held close to the vest. They drink more than they ought and street brawl more than they sleep. But, an oath sworn by them will never be questioned: They are, after all, honorable men. They are Musketeers.
Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Three Musketeers has been adapted for the screen, both large and small—well—quite a lot.
Last summer brought us the newest version from BBC America and series creator Adrian Hodges (Predators, Survivors). Just how much of it was drawn from the source material and how much sprang from the head writer’s fertile imagination? Watch and listen as Hodges explains the intention behind this reimagining of the famous three who became four—for honor and for glory.
Season One upheld the lighthearted spirit of the Musketeer legacy. Hodges made good by tapping into that which pulls theater goers into those seats or back to their TV sets to watch the same tale retold. It’s not about the outcome… it’s about the different paths traveled along the way.
The journey, it seems, is the thing: the flush of heart pounding adventure, the intricacies of back stabbing intrigues and the manner in which double dealing reprobates get their comeuppance, even if just barely. The game must continue, so it’s two steps forward—one back. Thus, we get to return week after week to spend another quality hour with Athos, Aramis, Porthos and D’Artagnon. We’re the happier for it. For what is loved most about The Musketeers is, well… The Musketeers.
Hughes delivered four talented, wholly charismatic actors who breath new life into the familiar bones of the famous quartet, fleshing out the rest of the cast with an assembly of equally skilled players.
[More Three Musketeers HERE]
Among them had been the nefarious, ever present Cardinal Richlieu (Peter Capaldi) and the extension of his musket hand, the woman whose honeyed tones served to fell many an opponent, Milady aka Milady de Winter (Maimie McCoy).
With Capaldi taking up, very successfully, the reigns of the 12th incarnation of Dr. Who, a looming question arose. Who would Season Two see installed as the amoral thorn which cannot be extricated from the Musketeers side? In a bigger-than-life, audacious series such as this, a bad guy we love to hate fuels the soul and heated dinner conversations.
Enter Marc Warren (Hustle, The Good Wife) as the Comte De Rochefort. A secondary character in the novel, the death of the Cardinal (first episode opens on the funeral) creates an opportunity. The Comte, already established as a Cardinal man, slips quite easily into the vacated evildoer position.
Warren’s Comte is so velvety smooth, he quickly has King Louis believing he’s the answer to all of the State’s needs, whatever they may be. The musketeers, well acquainted with the good Comte, understand he is not to be trusted, but find themselves in a position where they must.
The new antagonist isn’t the only change made this season: “I think this is a more demanding journey than before,” Hodges said. “… we’ve upped the serial element and taken the show in a slightly tough and perhaps more surprising direction… The tone remains the same but this is a darker and sexier Musketeers.”
That said, The Musketeers is not dark, dreary nor depressing. It is refreshing. It is a bit of sunshine that lightens the landscape of television; with romance, sword fighting and dueling at dawn. Images of leather clad horsemen galloping across rolling acreage (usually on a mission of some urgency), shooting muskets, hither and non, while re-loading on the run is a break from the murkiness of most primetime drama (albeit brilliant). Give us more.
If you didn’t chance to see any of the first Season you will want to, just for the fun of it, but check out the recap trailer HERE. You can readily start with this next season and revisit what you’ve missed at your leisure.
The more things change the more they stay the same…? In this case, those words are all to the good!
Onward Ho towards Saturday, January 17 when BBC America’s Musketeers bursts on to our various devices, screens and TV sets at 9pm for the Season 2 premiere.