The Musketeers Season 1 Review

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The Three Musketeers is one of my husband’s favorite novels (and mine), so we were excited to hear about this new show based (loosely) on the story. Although the characters will be familiar to fans of Dumas, most of the storylines are not and some of the others are changed almost beyond recognition. Instead of being a simple adaptation, the show takes an episodic approach to the series, with the Musketeers facing different villains every week, sometimes hampered (or occasionally helped) by Richelieu and Milady, sometimes not.

The Musketeers is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously – a few episodes were a bit heavy-handed with some extremely anachronistic social justice themes and a few others with the angst – but overall it’s a light-hearted, energetic show that’s lots of fun to watch, especially if you can revel in a little ridiculousness (such as the occasional moments when the show suddenly turns into CSI: 17th Century) instead of being offended by it.

The show benefits from a solid and charismatic cast in the lead roles, and I liked that, with the exception of the perpetually bumbling Red Guards, the main characters and villains alike are clever and quick-thinking. Contests between equals are so much more fun! There is plenty of eye candy to go around (especially Lucrezia Borgias’ beloved “Narcissus”, reborn a century later – and with a much sexier hairdo – as d’Artagnan), lots of entertaining and well choreographed fight scenes, and healthy dashes of humor, witty dialogue, and forbidden romance.

In short, don’t skip the novel, but if you’re in the mood for some swashbuckling fun, The Musketeers is an excellent choice.

Favorite episodes:

“1×07 A Rebellious Woman” – The best of the anachronistic social justice episodes, and one of the best of the series so far. An independently wealthy woman who educates underprivileged girls in her home is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn at the stake. Led by Athos, the Musketeers race to prove her innocence.

“1×09 Knight Takes Queen” – A boring assignment guarding the Queen at a health resort gets exciting fast when she’s nearly killed by a sniper’s bullet. The storyline is also enlivened by a convent of fighting nuns and Athos’s hilarious reaction to the event implied in the title (which gets a possibly even more hilarious reprise in the following episode), though there’s an odd subplot involving one of Aramis’s former lovers that seemed out of place.

Least favorite episodes:

“1×03 Commodities” – James Callis plays sleazeballs extremely well, and his guest role in this episode is no exception, but it was kind of a mess otherwise. The usual mix of light-hearted action and wacky hijinks didn’t mix well with the overly coincidental angst-fest that was the reveal of Athos and Milady’s backstory, and it mixed even worse with the heavy-handed slave trading subplot.

“1×05 The Homecoming” – Porthos himself is anything but boring, so I don’t know what it is about his backstory that brings out the boring plots from the writers’ pens. On the plus side, the other three musketeers make some of their most entertaining forays into “CSI: 17th Century,” as mentioned above.

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My rating: (3.5 / 5)


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