It wasn’t the same old Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan who strutted across the TV screen on Sunday night, June 22, when the newest incarnation of “The Musketeers” premiered on BBCA. They must think it’s a tale worth telling as the Alexander Dumas story has been told and retold many times since its debut in the mid-19th century.
This newest version has younger Musketeers fighting for their king, Louis XIII. Of course, they are pitted against the evil Cardinal Richelieu, portrayed quite evilly by veteran Scots actor Peter Capaldi.
In the opening episode, there are fake Musketeers running around wreaking havoc. One of them kills the young D’Artagnan’s father and names his killer as “Athos, the King’s Musketeer.” This sends the young D’Artagnan out on a blood quest, determined to find Athos and get vengeance for his father.
D’Artagnan finds Athos, but he finds the real one. After a rousing sword fight with Athos trying to tell D’Artagnan that he’s not the man he’s looking for while attempting to not kill him, Athos is arrested for robbery and murder. After a quick and one-sided trial, he is sentenced to die the following morning.
Porthos and Aramis convince D’Artagnan to join them in the hunt for the fake Athos, his father’s killer and the man who can clear Athos. Another unit of Musketeers has mysteriously disappeared and, by now, it’s beginning to dawn on them that the other Musketeers have met with foul play and had their uniforms stolen.
There is a lot of not-so-subtle humor interspersed through the serious storytelling, especially in the character of Porthos (Howard Charles). He’s the fun guy who loves drinking, gambling and getting into scrapes. Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) is the lover who’s taking Richelieu’s mistress to bed. Athos (Tom Burke) is the darkest character out of the original trio, brooding and quiet, constantly thinking about a relationship that went bad.
It’s hard to call D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) from the first episode. He’s young and not yet a Musketeer, but he seems to be an able swordsman and pretty handy with a pistol. It’s usually “The Three Musketeers,” but there’s always D’Artagnan, number four.
Overall, the episode moved fairly quickly and the history didn’t seem too outrageous. It was entertaining with a lot of new faces. It will take a few weeks to see how it develops and how audiences take to it. For right now, it’s something new for those of us who love period pieces.