I had real problems with Season 1, because both my brain and the writers were expecting this to be a Saturday evening family show that was instead scheduled at 9pm on a Sunday. The slot that was home to Doctor Who, Merlin, Atlantis and Robin Hood seemed a perfect fit for a show about the swashbuckling Musketeers. But the 9pm slot required more adult storylines and the writers and actors struggled for a bit to find the right tone. But after a while they all settled down and the season ended on a pretty high uptick, leaving me pretty optimistic for season 2.
Long story short, I wasn’t disappointed. Despite meandering to yet another timeslot (9pm on a Friday, traditionally known as the graveyard slot in America at least), the season was much, much more consistent and a lot stronger in terms of plots and characters. The arc storylines held everything together nicely and reduced the formulaic feeling that the first season had, even though there was still a bit of a tendency to focus on one character at a time.
Changes in context have given most characters an opportunity to develop beyond their very basic biographies, d’Artagnan has actually grown up, Aramis is seeing the impact of his passionate choices, Constance actually has a purpose and reason to be around and Treville became more than just “the Captain”. Athos was a bit mono-syllabically mopey as usual and sadly Porthos was still rather under-used, but maybe they’ll get their turn. I can’t say I really missed Peter Capaldi’s overly camp Cardinal Richelieu But it was a shame that he was replaced by the equally pantomime Marc Warren as Rochefort
The Three Musketeers as always been one of my favourite stories, or should I say set ups. It’s not the actual plots that make or break something based on Dumas’ book, it’s picking up the characters and the setting and then doing something interesting with it. The Musketeers is managing that very well. The focus is always on the characters and the camaraderie between them. The period is beautifully vibrant, both in production design and in the history of the period with lavish richness in the palace and extreme poverty and violence outside. The series also has plenty of entertaining banter and exciting action sequences so there’s rarely a dull moment. It’s entertaining, interesting and emotionally engaging. What more could I want?