“Series one started with Athos being completely dependent and somewhat institutionalised by the garrison, and he can’t envisage a life where he might leave it. That’s because he’s somewhat running away from life with a big ‘L’. Without giving too much away, it’s been a real journey for him, and for all of the characters.“ - Tom Burke
Okay, but the the Musketeers series from 2013 is so sensible?
As I said earlier it’s also really, really silly, and thinks people being callously killed by the heroes is hilarious (which, tbf, they put in the work to make sure it is. ;) They don’t pretend the heroes are anything but callous, and that’s where the humour comes form - just like in the book).
I’m watching it right now with German audio (I don’t speak Russian, sorry, but there was finally a German DVD release!) and it’s extremely silly (just like the book ;) ), - BUT - but the characterisation of Richelieu is so on point!
The show sticks extremely close to the book (except for where Milady’s story is concerned - which is probably for the best. Though this doesn’t mean it’s kinder to Milady). As such, Richelieu is clearly cast as the antagonist, as thethe musketeers hate him and they leave out no opportunity to humiliate his agents or his guard (again, like in the book), encouraged by their captain (who is just the most ridiculous person on the entire cast, but I love him regardless, because I have the sense of humour of a twelve-year-old sometimes. No offence, twelve-year-olds, and imma let you finish, but you’re going to grow out of it - mostly. Like, idk if this guy is a competent commander, but he makes me laugh more often than not).
Anyway this show, this silly, ridiculous show, goes out of its way to really SHOW you that Richelieu does what he does because he believes it’s the only way to keep Louis on the throne and France a sovereign nation.
The musekteers see none of that, even when Richelieu tries to explain it to d’Artagnan. But even though the protagonists don’t accept his reasoning, the show continues to paint Richelieu in a fair light, as a multi-facetted character who does questionable things for a rainbow of reasons (it’s a very colourful show. Aramis’s hat is bright pink, okay?)
Richelieu even pays off d’Artagnan to drop his grudge against Rochefort (claiming the money comes from Rochefort who actually has no intention of ever paying up for causing d’Artagnan to lose money in the first ep - not like the book, but makes more sense than the reason the book gives for why the duel). And he does it because he doesn’t want two men to fight who he doesn’t think should be fighting - since they both serve their King in different ways.
He’s so pragmatic!
He is even sorry when Milady insists on killing d'Artagnan, because he realises d'Artagnan is actually going to be a useful soldier who could have a stellar career one day, but Milady is an even more useful agent, as since they can’t be as easily reconciled as d'Artagnan with Rochefort, he lets Milady have her way.
(Rochefort, btw. , also benefits hugely from this adaptation. In most adaptations he’s either nothing more than a one-note henchmen or a villain in his own right, but in this one he’s got - *gasp* - emotions and principles and appears to be just a little bit in love with Milady (as of episode 6 at least. That’s where I’m at right now).
They even give Richelieu a scene with Buckingham in which the Cardinal urges the Duke to stop supporting La Rochelle. Unfortunately, Buckingham is a douche (so, like in the book) and goes on and on about how there has to be a war until Richelieu resigns and leaves Queen Anne, Buckingham’s great crush, in peace. And so Richelieu tells him “dude, you’re a politician in an extremely high office, you can’t afford your political decisions to be ruled by selfish emotions.” To which Buckingham responds that he doesn’t care, he’s “important enough to do what what I want.” That’s when Richelieu sends Milady back to him and makes it clear that Buckingham needs to go.
Oh, and the reason Athos goes after Milady at the inn is to protect d'Artagnan (whom she’s sworn to kill), not to prevent her assassinating Buckingham. Athos even says he doesn’t care about the Duke, because he’s waging war against them and their enemy.
This show is so silly. Let me repeat: It is EXTREMELY silly! EXTREMELY so! It’s very much into slapstick and that shit, and there are bits when I just can’t help and roll my eyes. It feels, in a way, very Old School like that (like something from the 70′s actually. It shares a kinship with the Russian musical series and the two-parter with Richard Chamberlain. Both in the comedy aspects of the show, as well as the fact that there isn’t a modern twist on any of the characters - they are as bigotted as they are in the books.
But there is this broadening of those characters that usually get reduced to one-note villains that is very satisfying.)
Yet, in golden moments like these scenes I mentioned, it’s so perfect and sensible, and willing to interrogate the heorics and the villainy of its characters in ways that few other adaptations of the novel do. I hope it stays this nice for the remaining four episodes.
That’s why I’m still watching even though the show also likes to stick 3-minute sequences of d’Artagnan watching Constance frolick in a field in the middle of an episode about the siege of La Rochelle (whaaaaaaaat was that? Did the script-writer fall asleep on the keyboard?).
From our stacks: Frontispiece “The Combat between the Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Guards Photogravure - From Painting by E. H. Blashfield” from The Works of Alexandre Dumas. Illustrated. (Vol. 11) The Three Musketeers Parts I and II. Edition De Luxe. Limited to One Thousand Sets. New York, Philadelphia, Chicago: The Nottingham Society, (18–?)