BBC’s The Musketeers The Challenge TV Show Review. The Musketeers: Season 1, Episode 8: The Challenge is a good episode from The Musketeers and the improvements are obvious. The acting, the story and the visual style are better. By now it is quite obvious that The Musketeers will never rank among the very best of BBC shows. Even after eight episodes we haven’t yet seen something truly masterful but on its own terms The Musketeers entertains just about enough.
The Challenge finally provides us with some sort of loss, which is vital for the creation of believable drama. Despite the storylines of the previous episodes, which never failed to hook us in, they were missing a serious threat which is bigger than our heroes. The Challenge is unique because it shows us a protagonist who doesn’t end the episode all happy of being powerful and unbeatable.
As a whole, the episode looks beautiful but sadly, as always, the fight scenes are directed with surprising lack of imagination and dynamism. We see a lot of fights in The Challenge and most of them are capable of creating tension, especially the concluding one. That doesn’t change the fact that the camera is so painfully close to the swordfighters that you can barely see the sword itself.
In Star Wars for example you have great sword fights: fast editing, awesome music and nice choreography. You have those things in The Musketeers as well, although they are obviously not as good. However, in every good Star Wars fight you see the light-saber combatants in a good long shot so that you can properly witness the swords slicing at the enemy. You don’t have that in The Musketeers.
For some odd reason, every fight scene in The Musketeers follows one person in a medium close up or medium shot at best. Such a shot gives you only the intense expression of the fighter and that is not really of any use whatsoever because during a fight his face is always moving. All the directors of The Musketeers have to do is take wider shots and the fight problem will be largely solved.
That being said, the fight scenes in The Challenge did excel because of Vinnie Jones’ terrific. He is genuinely menacing as the movie monster in the episode, regardless if he is wielding a fire-consumed weapon or if he is taking multiple soldiers (some of which Musketeers) at the same time.
When it comes down to the story of The Challenge, you will witness some quality moments. We finally have an open confrontation between Richelieu, the commander of the Red Guards and The Musketeers and the mysterious Lady De Winter utilizes her wits as well. Another intriguing feature of the story is that this time, we really get to concentrate on each of the Musketeers in more or less equal measure. We also have a common theme uniting them all: Is Musketeer life worth the sacrifice of everything else?
D’Artagnan is visibly in the centre of it all but out of all four he does seem like the best choice. He is the least experienced and the wildest. Atos, Portos and Aramis are there to support him so literally-they are his rightful supporting characters and he is the central character of their and rightfully our attention. The best moment of the story for me is the subplot of D’Artagnan’s poverty that concludes in a wonderful heart-breaking way towards the end of The Challenge.
All in all, The Musketeers is going forward as always. The cinematography is good, the story never loses its infectious nature and the acting is nice. The fight scenes are bad but that doesn’t make any of the episodes unwatchable. Can The Musketeers rise to the heights of Sherlock and Doctor Who for instance? Can it spawn an entire army of fans which will wait for the second season? We just have to wait and see how good the show can become before the quickly coming end.
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