Reviews

King Louis XIII’s face is the best thing about ‘The Musketeers’

The latest  Sunday drama to emerge onto our screens falls under the category of programming the BBC have always just seemed to be really good at. With legendary historical figures, wacky yet predictable plot lines and questionable costume, The Musketeers, for me, unearths memories of Merlin and Robin Hood: plots manipulated to appeal, Maid Marion’s spotted cardi which might have been from Cath Kidston and that unforgettable scene in which a character rocks up in modern cargo trousers and military boots. It’s easy to criticise the almost insultingly simple sequences of events, the frequent cliché and tendency to cast stereotypical roles (and man of ethnic minority in control of a criminal underworld? A tight-bodice-wearing, feisty housewife that doesn’t always need a man to rescue her except when it’s sexy? Come on, BBC) not to mention the less than stellar acting. However, Sundays still find me dropping everything to snuggle down and watch The Musketeers of a Sunday night, and not just because I am Beeb til I die…

  1. The show does not command my constant and unwavering attention. As much as I love the more complex, red herring ridden and fast paced story lines of shows like Sherlock, it’s not the kind of thing that chills me out before another week of study and lectures begins. What I’ve noticed with The Musketeers is that the storyline genuinely becomes absolutely clear after around ten minutes in, meaning you can get on with more important things during – replying to emails, catching up in some reading, finishing that piece of coursework that’s due in tomorrow – whilst still being able to enjoy frantic glances at pretty, heavily colour corrected moving images to make sure you’re still on the right lines.
  2. You can play a great number of games in the duration of the show. My personal favourites being how many times will the word “musketeer” be uttered in this episode? And how many characters will be subjected to superfluous deaths? Another good one is spotting deliberate focus on what appear to be throwaway shots of objects/people who will (inevitably) become significant later in the episode.
  3. Hilarious Costuming. It’s genuinely like throwback to 2006 and Robin Hood. Not hoodies this time, but weirdly strapped dresses which are startlingly modern, as well as hair loosely styled on Miley CyrusScreen Shot 2014-03-03 at 17.25.54
  4. King Louis – preened, petulant and pea-brained, this young man is a truly, hilariously, dreadful king. The upside is we can have a jolly good giggle at his policies, pitiful attempts at wit and endlessly expressive face.We have the thoroughly cheesed off Louis
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    The I’ve-just-cracked-an-excellent-joke-about-melons-Louis
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    The weeping-pout Louis
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    The well-formed-conclusion-making Louis
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    And the fuck-you-I’M-France Louis
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    The Musketeers is by no means challenging telly, but I don’t think I would enjoy it half as much if it was. It doesn’t stress you out with awkward cliffhangers, nor does it make any bold or obscure statements about the world to leave you baffled or pensive before bedtime. Rather, it gives you a nice, clear, well-rounded narrative with a healthy dose of closure at the end. As well as a trailer from which the plot of the next instalment can be pretty well conjectured, so you’re not dithering about waiting for next week. The perfect recipe for a solid eight hours. Lovely.

    Bonus Louis: the you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do-screw-you-Cardinal-Richelieu-I’m-going-to-my-chamber
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