Cliché surmounts cliché, and cleavage surmounts corsets, in the overproduced first episode of The Musketeers. Musical themes from Murray Gold resonate over swashbuckling sword and pistol fights, like less-inspiring versions of Pirates of the Caribbean compositions. We ride through the woods like we’re outlaws in Sherwood Forest, except the fighting is rather more like we are watching a late night Disney parody. The villains lack all gravitas, as they meekly attempt gritty, gruff threats like adolescent boys attempting to lower their register. With so many pretty faces, one might suspect the casting team were desperately attempting to compensate for this poorly written script.
It’s all very silly indeed. One musketeer resorts to duelling with a fork, lacking a sword. The secret lover hangs out of a window by his fingertips while the mistress’s paying client talks about his feelings and court secrets. This is Peter Capaldi (new Doctor Who, don’t you know), playing the villainous Cardinal Richelieu, who will let nothing get in the way of his duty to rid the world of the evil Musketeers. In fact, the goodie-baddie storyline just seems like a confused, sexed-up plot which, rather than occupying the Sunday night primetime slot, should have been aimed at the pre-watershed audience.
Freddie from Skins has gone back to the noughties for a floppy hair mop-do, and instead of dropping at Bristolean raves is now prancing about on set in very-well-lit Prague pretending to be a dashing seventeenth-century hero in Paris. He gets all the ladies, from the alluring scarlet woman to the cute married ones, satisfying rampant teenage instincts (both his and the audience’s) by whipping out his pistol at every opportunity. All his shots are accompanied by an obligatory, intense period of Flynn Rider-esque smouldering.
Here comes the smoulder…