BBC America offers a different look at 'Musketeers'

The Fresno BeeJune 17, 2014 

PASADENA —It's all for one, one for all — again, but with a twist. BBC America is the latest company to turn to Alexandre Dumas' classic novel, "The Three Musketeers," as the basis for a new production.

The cable channel's "The Musketeers" looks at the life, loves and lunacy of D'Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino), Athos (Tom Burke), Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) and Porthos (Howard Charles) as they fight for truth, justice and the French way in 17th century Paris as King Louis XIII's personal bodyguards.

Lead writer and executive producer Adrian Hodges didn't want to do an adaptation of the book. Instead, Hodges takes themes, ideas and characters from the book and uses them in ways that sometimes are similar to the book and sometimes very, very different.

One noticeable change is that Hodges' "Musketeers" actually use muskets. Oh, there are swords, too, but these latest Musketeers are true to the origins of the elite fighting unit.

Burke suggests that this latest version is different because it takes the traditional elements of the book and gives them a modern feel.

"Certainly the beginning flows exactly like the original story, but then that's totally dismissed," Burke says. "That change gives the story much more energy."

One big change has D'Artagnan, a skilled fighter from rural Gascony, meet the three Musketeers while on a mission to avenge his father's death. The men initially battle but eventually Athos, who has rejected his noble roots to become a Musketeer, befriends D'Artagnan.

Playing D'Artagnan is just the latest time-hopping role for Pasqualino. Before signing on to "Musketeers," he appeared in the futuristic "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome" and the historical "The Borgias." The English actor isn't certain why he gets cast in such diversely different time-period roles. He's just happy that he was the right pick for this project.

"If there is something about me that lands such roles, I haven't figured it out yet," Pasqualino says with a smile.

The Musketeers face a familiar foe in Cardinal Richelieu (Peter Capaldi), a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. He gets assistance in his evil ways from Milady (Maimie McCoy), a mysterious and beautiful villain whose motives are often concealed.

"She's pretty terrifying in the book, more terrifying than anyone has ever played her before," McCoy says. "She's very complicated, and dark. She's clawed her way out of where she's come from and I think she's battered, had her heart broken. There is something very animalistic and raw about her.

"I took a lot from the book to bring a new dimension to her. I think that's what everyone else has done with their characters, which gives the show more life and energy because of the complexity of the characters."

There was a feeling of one for all during the filming as the series shoots in the Czech Republic. Not only did the cast and crew spend six months there working on the show, they attended a Musketeer boot camp before filming started. Pasqualino explains:

"We spent a week in a beautiful castle just outside Prague. Sword fighting a few hours a day and horse riding and then come back for lunch and do the same again all over again in the afternoon. It was a tough week. It was hard work, but it kind of set the benchmark for what we got to do for the next six months, really, so it was great."

The first season features 10 episodes, and a second season will air in 2015.

Hodges is certain the timing is right for this updated look at a very familiar story.

"One of the great things about this kind of show is that it's about heroes. There's a lot of anti-heroes out there in the landscape, and we've got plenty of those in 'The Musketeers' as well," Hodges says. "We have four heroes and that doesn't mean they are without complication. It doesn't mean that they don't have an interesting backstory, but they are fundamentally heroes. And I think that's something this genre can lend itself to very well."


Show info

"The Musketeers:" 9 p.m. Sundays on BBC America

 

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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