TV preview: The Musketeers | Girls

The Musketeers. Picture: BBC
The Musketeers. Picture: BBC
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For people of a certain age, the phrase “all for one and one for all” is irresistibly followed by “Muskehounds are always ready!” before the chorus which went, roughly, “di-di-da, di-di-da” (you’re humming it now, aren’t you?).

The Musketeers

Tomorrow, BBC1, 9pm

Girls

Monday, Sky Atlantic, 10pm

What had originally been a classic novel for adults became cemented in many minds as a children’s tale, starring cartoon dogs.

There have been many other versions of Alexandre Dumas’ 17th Century-set adventure, including the popular Richard Lester films of the 70s. But perhaps it’s that 80s cartoon which has left the BBC’s glossy new adaptation somewhat confused about its audience.

On the face of it, The Musketeers is aimed at grown-ups, with a 9pm timeslot and a number of sexy scenes including a chap making a hasty window exit from his lover’s bedroom, to avoid her other lover, who then orders her to strip off. And yet, the rest seems designed for kids: silly slapstick humour, simplistic baddies, plots a seven-year-old could follow and good guys who are supposed to be ruthless soldiers yet will only kill enemies in accidental self-defence. Cut out those racy bits and it could easily have fitted into the slot held by Atlantis and Doctor Who.

But if any children do happen across this show, they may be traumatised to find the new Doctor Who himself, Peter Capaldi, playing a very bad man. As the scheming Cardinal, who hates the Musketeers for no particular reason, Capaldi does his best to inject some gravitas, but the script is pretty thin stuff. Of the rest of the cast, Tom Burke stands out as a moody Athos, while Luke Pasqualino as D’Artagnan is thankfully less wooden than he was in Skins. There is much sword-flashing, even though they do – for once – actually have muskets.

Of course, it’s just meant to be a fun adventure romp: no one’s looking for a version of The Musketeers which reinvents Dumas’ story as a scathing exposé of pre-revolutionary French politics (though you could make a case for the Cardinal as a proto-Malcolm Tucker). But does it need to be dumbed down quite so much?

Lena Dunham’s series Girls is a huge talking point in its native America; here, either because it’s on Sky Atlantic or due to the narrowness of its hipster Brooklyn setting, it doesn’t seem to have connected much. That’s a shame, because it’s one of the most interesting series around, trying to represent those awkward corners of experience which other shows ignore. Its four heroines may be young and privileged, but they’re grappling with ordinary things like confidence, identity, careers and friendships.

Last year, Hannah’s gradual relapse into a distressing OCD condition and the fracturing of the group saw the show moving into much darker territory. But the first couple of episodes of series three pull back, with Hannah seeming to have things under control and Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna also back on track. Yet though there are laughs, there’s an underlying sadness still, suggesting that nothing is that simple.

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