TV preview: The Musketeers | Girls

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. Picture: BBC
The Musketeers. Picture: BBC
The Musketeers. Picture: BBC

The Musketeers

Tomorrow, BBC1, 9pm


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.

Hide Ad

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.




Monday, Channel 5, 10pm

From producer Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica), this new US drama sees a team of scientists investigate a potential virus outbreak in the Arctic. Quickly they discover that secret experiments have exposed them to a risk which could spread across the world. Starring Billy Campbell.


Don’t Look Down

Tomorrow, Channel 4, Sunday

Hide Ad

Not for those with vertigo, this film profiles the adrenalin-fuelled nuts of the urban free climbing craze who (illegally) shimmy up cranes and buildings without any safety equipment, just for the thrill of hanging hundreds of metres above the city. .


Mr Selfridge

Tomorrow, ITV, 9pm

So, last year we saw how American businessman Harry Selfridge (Jeremy Piven) successfully launched his London department store. But the second series of this amiable Downton wannabe skips forward to 1914, where war is casting a gloom over the home furnishings, while both staff and management have romantic troubles.



Monday, ITV2, 9pm

Hide Ad

From the makers of Two And A Half Men, this US sitcom stars likeable Anna Farris as a waitress and single mother trying to conquer a drinking problem, whose demanding mother is the always-reliable Allison Janney, above.