No one buckles a swash quite like a musketeer, and on BBC America’s new Sunday night series, the four most famous swashbuckling sword-fighting musketeers of all are back in yet another incarnation of Dumas’ iconic and loveable characters. Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan – and of course, their nemesis, Cardinal Richelieu and his right-hand girl, Milady, are brought to life once again in a delightful, charming, family-friendly and relatively light-hearted series entitled, quite simply, The Musketeers.
The Musketeers airs on BBC America Sundays at 9 pm Eastern Time.
While American audiences may not have seen any of the four principals before, fans of British television – and especially Dr. Who – will immediately recognize the actor playing Cardinal Richelieu. Peter Capaldi (who got his start in Gregory’s Girl and Local Hero 30 years ago) was the 12th actor to play the time lord. Shortly after wrapping up shooting Dr. Who in 2013, Capaldi took on the Richelieu role for The Musketeers. Although the tone of the show is otherwise quite light, Capaldi has gone full dark side. His cardinal is not evil or mad or cartoonish, but is instead deadly serious, cold-blooded, and something of a cross between Tony Soprano and Dick Cheney. He is a force to be reckoned with, and a worthy opponent for the fabulous four.
The British production aired across the pond back in January and debuted on American screens on June 22. Purists may be a bit disappointed as it has more in common with the cheeky, campy 1993 Disney movie version (which starred Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell and Oliver Platt as the plucky quartet) than the original storyline (which debuted in the mid-19th century as a newspaper serial before being published in book form). Despite the TV treatment, all of the key elements and characters of what made and have continued to make Alexandre Dumas’ stories so popular are still all there in the BBC America show, and not just because of how Capaldi plays the villain.
Any fan of the period will find the look and feel of the series comforting and appealing. While arguably inferior to many of the classic musketeer films (notably those made in the 1970s by Richard Lester, with Charlton Heston as the cardinal and Michael York as D’Artagnan) it is still rollicking good fun – and far better than many adaptations (like the musical version from the 1930s which starred Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers).
To truly enjoy the show, however, viewers might consider having a picnic in front of the television, where they can “dine like a musketeer.” That means eating much the way the characters do in the books and films, with bread and cheese, fruit and cold meats – and, of course, wine (often straight out of the bottle). To properly dine like a musketeer one should be sitting on the floor or some cushions, and without benefit of plates, utensils or napkins (that is, after all, what those cravats and sleeves were meant for).
The Musketeers is perfect summer fun for all who enjoy a good sword fight, some lively banter, and a grand old-fashioned adventure yarn. It airs Sundays at 9 pm Eastern on BBC America.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with nearly 40 years of experience as a ghost-writer, columnist, historian and game designer. A life-long fan of Dumas and his characters, he frequently “dines like a musketeer,” especially when watching movies and shows of that era.
An author whose first published book was Battles of the American Civil War, and whose games include War and Peace, The Napoleonic Wars and the Mr. Lincoln’s War set, Mark continues to be enthralled by history.
To view Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit his publisher at http://www.gmtgames.com/p-238-rebel-raiders-on-the-high-seas.aspx
…or his blog at http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/
Mark’s latest work, the swashbuckling science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan's Star Marines, is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-Save/dp/1466218487/ref...
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