Tag Archives: Peter Capaldi

New <7>Musketeers<8> refreshes the swashbuckler genre

The Musketeers

From left, Athos (Tom Burke), Porthos (Howard Charles), D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) and Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) set off for new adventures in ‘The Musketeers,’ premiering Sunday on BBC America.

The Musketeers, a new period adventure series premiering Sunday on BBC America, opens as D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino, The Borgias) and his father are on the road to Paris from their farm in Gascony when they are set upon by a band of masked highwaymen dressed as Musketeers. One of the group, who introduces himself as Athos, murders the older man in cold blood.
Bent on revenge, D’Artagnan continues on his journey and seeks out the Musketeers, determined to kill Athos. Eventually, however, the truth becomes evident: The attackers were impostors, and D’Artagnan teams up with Aramis (Santiago Cabrera, Heroes) and Porthos (newcomer Howard Charles) to bring the real killer to justice and clear the name of the real Athos (Tom Burke, The Hour).
The trio soon realizes they have been drawn into another crafty plot by the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (the great Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who), who hopes to use them as pawns in his scheme. Much wisecracking and swordplay ensue.
Reduced to bare-bones synopsis, the episode may sound like standard-issue swashbuckler fare, but that’s exactly what series creator and head writer Adrian Hodges (My Week With Marilyn) doesn’t want The Musketeers to be.
“Too often, swashbuckling has become a kind of code word for insubstantial characterization, endless swordfights which have little or no consequences, and (an) old-fashioned approach to storytelling which is dull and encrusted with period trappings and lame jokes,” Hodges writes in a lengthy introduction to the series included in the BBC America press materials.
Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Three Musketeers has been adapted for both film and television many times, so Hodges started out with a decision not to remake the same story, but to send the well-known characters – which also include the treacherous Milady de Winter (Maimie McCoy) and the delightful Constance Bonacieux (Tami Kari) – on a series of new adventures inspired in some cases by events in the novel, in others by the historical context of the story.
This creative approach is reflected in the costumes for the Musketeers, which jettison most of the frou-frou from earlier Musketeers entries in favor of dark, leathery outfits that have eye appeal while also being action-friendly. And speaking of action, it’s very well choreographed and filmed (and, by the way, not all swordplay – the Musketeers, after all, got their name from the handguns they carry).
Also contributing to what Hodges calls “a swashbuckler with teeth” is a gallery of really excellent performances. Pasqualino is right on the money as the hot-headed D’Artagnan, while Cabrera is all sly seductiveness as the ladykiller Aramis. Burke is a thoroughly charismatic Athos, while Charles, who comes to the series from a theater background, makes an amusing, affable Porthos.
For all the merits of the men in the cast, though, I have to give huge props to Kari, whose charm and spectacular comic timing help Constance steal pretty much every scene in which she appears. This actress is a real keeper.
The wintry Czech Republic, which stands in for 17th-century France, provides one breathtaking natural backdrop after another, and the episodes I’ve previewed all move at a breakneck pace, propelled by some genuinely witty wisecracking between the Musketeers. It’s easy to see why The Musketeers, a co-production of BBC America and BBC Worldwide, already has been given the greenlight for its second season even before the first one starts airing here in the States. It’s that good.
D'Artagnan and Constance

To evade arrest, D’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) stuns Constance (Tamia Kari) with an unexpected lip-lock just minutes after their first meeting.

Look, ‘Who’’s turning 50 with ‘Day of the Doctor’

'The Day of the Doctor,' Saturday's special 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who,' will air as a global simulcast in more than 75 countries.

Allons-y! Matt Smith and David Tennant somehow interact in their roles as, respectively, the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors in ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ a 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Doctor Who’ premiering Saturday.

The venerable British sci-fi series Doctor Who airs what promises to be a very special 50th anniversary episode of the program Saturday as a global simulcast to more than 75 countries. In the United States, BBC America will carry “The Day of the Doctor” (as the episode is titled) live at 2:50 p.m. ET, followed by an encore broadcast that evening at 7 p.m. ET.
As usual, the BBC is cloaking this special episode in the kind of secrecy that usually is reserved for nuclear launch codes, although the network has released the following brief (and enigmatic) summary:
“In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comoes back to haunt him.”
Here’s what else is known about the episode, which is penned by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat. First, and most bafflingly, the episode will feature both the current 11th incarnation of The Doctor (Matt Smith) as well as his previous embodiment, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), sharing scenes together. As if that’s not enough, John Hurt, who was seen very briefly in the final moments of the Season Seven finale, will appear as The War Doctor, a “forgotten” past incarnation of The Doctor.
Fans who are searching for further clues also can view a related and very tantalizing mini-episode prequel of sorts called “The Night of the Doctor,” with Paul McGann reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor online here: http://youtu.be/-U3jrS-uhuo.
The other big news is that “The Day of the Doctor” also will include an appearance by fan favorite Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, former traveling companion for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Jenna Coleman also co-stars in this special episode in her current ongoing role as the Eleventh Doctor’s traveling companion, Clara Oswald. Joanna Page guest stars as Queen Elizabeth I.
Moffat has said in related interviews that “The Day of the Doctor” will “change the narrative” of the series in a big way. Fans are speculating this may involve a long-standing conundrum built into the basic premise of Doctor Who: namely, the notion that any Time Lord can regenerate only 12 times. (Actor Peter Capaldi is scheduled to begin appearing as the Twelfth Doctor sometime after Smith’s upcoming Christmas Day episode. If we count Hurt’s appearance as a regeneration, which is how it is described in “The Night of the Doctor,” that would mean Capaldi’s Doctor would be the 12th time the character has regenerated).
In addition to their joint appearance in “The Day of the Doctor,” Smith and Tennant also are scheduled to appear together late Saturday evening on BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show. That show was taped and aired in the UK earlier this week, however, so expect their comments to be fairly guarded.
Fan favorite Billie Piper guest stars in Saturday's 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who.'

Former series regular Billie Piper feturns in ‘The Day of the Doctor.’