The Musketeers, The Good Soldier. Television Review. B.B.C. Television.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Santiago Cabrera, Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Howard Charles, Peter Capaldi, J.J. Field, Tamla Kari, Alexandra Dowling, Ryan Gage, Hugo Speer, Anna Skellern, Adrian Schiller, Simon Paisley Day, Phoebe Fox, Peter- Hugo Daly, Jim High.

Sunday nights have not been the same since The Musketeers came swashbuckling into the living rooms of audiences up and down the country. The French tale of swords, honour and friendship has perhaps never been more popular and rightly so.

The casting throughout has been of the highest quality and in The Good Soldier, this fine tradition carries on. The programme also has the very great fortune of having some very talented writers working on it, writers that surely have been told to go away and read completely from start to finish the great works of Alexandre Dumas and not come back with anything less befitting the classic work, no sideshow, no forced humour thrust down the audiences throat that some of the adaptations managed to do and most of all to treat each character with the respect they deserve. Perhaps none more so than the power behind the throne of France that of Count Richelieu as portrayed by Peter Capaldi.

With just a raised eyebrow, Peter Capaldi showed exactly why he has been chosen as the next actor to play the time traveling man from Gallifrey in B.B.C.’s long running programme Doctor Who. As he looks at D’artagnan in awe at having pulled off an audacious switch, the pointed beard quivers, the eye narrows, he showed exactly why he has been one of the great actors of the last decade. For somebody to be able to covey so much with a steely fixed stare is of the highest quality and just confirms what so many have been saying about the actor’s rather sublime ability. As Count Richelieu, Peter Capaldi is magnificent, as The Doctor, he can only be only out of this world.

The Good Soldier also saw J.J. field make an appearance as the battle scarred Marsac and the exceptional, if at times criminally underrated, Adrian Schiller also bring his rather unique talent to the fore. However it was Santaigo Cabrera as Aramis and Hugo Speer that set pulses racing with excitement as they fought over the application of orders given five years previously which led to the slaughter of a whole regiment of Musketeer guards at the hands of The Duke of Savoy. The rising anger in Santiago Cabrera’s demeanour matching the intensity of the betrayal he felt had been meted out by his Captain was pitched at just the right tone, any less and the episode could have failed completely, too much and the whole idea of injustice would have been seen as a vendetta. That was not the Musketeer way and showed off the difference between Marsac and Aramis faultlessly.

Trust and loyalty was the name of the game and at times even a good soldier must choose between the two devils on offer.

The Musketeers continues next Sunday.

Ian D. Hall