Thursday, January 23, 2014

We haz snow... and series!

   Finally, the winter arrived here and I'm sure I will hate it by the mid-March. Few new series started, few ended, some went on a hiatus. And since none of Fall/Winter Kdramas were doing it for me, I naturally went back to the pond I crawled from in the first place. 

   Today I watched the first episode of The Musketeers and, surprisingly, I found it entertaining when after 1.5 minute I realized it had NOTHING in common with Dumas' work, except for names and some vague resemblance to the characters. There has been quite a lot of series/movies lately re-telling the original work and frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn as long as it's entertaining. The creators of this particular series made a brilliant move - at the beginning of credits they placed: "characters based on Alexandre Dumas work". Brilliant! They used only characters' tropes to create their own story, which of course gives them a weapon held against anyone who may claim that this is a veeeeery loose adaptation of the books. In such a clever way they removed this dreaded "adaptation" completely out of the picture.
One may call it a TV fanfic. Yup, that's what it is.

Horrendous clothes, ugh.
    I will stick with the series to see how it will develop and how the characters will proceed because, don't shoot me, but I grew quite fond of them over the hour we spent together. 
Going back to this re-telling I mentioned earlier, it's a trend to make adaptations, cross-overs and versions of classic works while changing not only the details but also the plot, characters and the concept. This way we can see empowered women, ethnicities and minorities that were quite absent from the original work. I dislike the aggressive feminist theories, and lots of gender studies specialist make a capital error in their readings of classical work by looking at something through polarized glasses. There's nothing wrong with dissecting some works to show the particularities, however imposing personal opinions on autors and their characters seems unfair to me. The example? There is this japanese novel from early 11th century, Genji monogatari, and those who read it, may learn a great deal about the women situation in classic Japan. However, some gender studies specialists claim that the autor of the novel, Murasaki Shikibu, voiced in it her disdain and objections towards the woman position and treatment in Heian era. Which, in my opinion, is pure bullshit (can bullshit be pure, btw?). The fact she described the polygamy and suffering it caused to aristocratic women, doesn't prove she condemned it. There is NO such word in the whole 54 chapters of it. And here we come to the main point - I love to see strong, relatable characters: be it a man, woman, cat, white, black, mixed, android (on the second thought, suddenly remembering David and Ash, maybe not that much), adamantium-filled or Cylon lady, but for fuck's sake, let's not distort the probabilities just to please everyone.
That's my (minor) problem with modern films and series. Some characters don't belong in period things because either actor acts too modern or the character is written as too modern. Or both.

   See, I love Constance because she's exactly what Milady is not. And she's a strong character in her own way, but making her act on bravado and shooting around during the reckless attack, somehow makes her similar to de Winter. Milady herself is symbolizing the empowered (I'm starting to hate this word) woman. She may be perceived as tragic, yet she is not. She's done everything with cold conscioussness, she knew what she was doing. Some may say she was independent, strong willed and too defiant to be subdued by a man. Yes, she was all that, but instead of working through that, she resorted to bloodshed and crime. Noble goal doesn't sanctify the means to achieve it.

   One thing before I start posting pics mainly. Three Musketeers (and 20 Years Later) is a story I almost know by heart, it's among my first books I read around age 8 or 9, don't remember. I watched EVERY version and adaptation (even Micky Mouse one, yes). And I will watch every other that may come in the future. I love musketeers that's why I'm writing this special post just for this series.
   Since we cleared this out, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the main characters.
Meet D'Artagnan, reckless, impulsive young (and kinda cute) Gaskon.

   If anyone of you watched Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, then you know this fellow. Luke Pasqualino has some experience in playing pricks, so D'Artagnan is a good choice. He's likeable though, not repulsive and series created some hints of a nice dynamics between him and Constance.
Oh, and funny thing is, in the version from 1948, Constance was the niece of Monsieur Bonacieux, probably just to avoid the topic of adultery.

Hugo Speer plays Captain De Treville and I must say I'm impressed, I liked him in Bleak House, and my liking even grew. Poor guy has to deal with such guys like, let's say, Aramis.

   Meet Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) in his natural habitat, that is escaping his latest lady's bedchamber to not be discovered and probably killed on the spot. This man I have met only once while watching brilliant, witty and absolutely genial ShakespeaRE-Told: Taming of the Shrew, he played Lucentio and his killer one-liner "Cosa?" entered our vocabulary for eternity.
Then we have Porthos (Howard Charles), described as very strong, very well build and well, he's quite fitting. 

Never seen him before, so I have no opinion as of yet, but he makes likeable Porthos. Who, however was not Hispanic, but maybe, just maybe it's a slight nod to Dumas himself, who was of mixed ethnicities.

   And we have the man that stole my heart ever since, Athos. First thing first: there never was and never will be a better version than the one of Oliver Reed. Some come pretty close though, and judging only after first episode is always hard, but Tom Burke's Athos may be in this category. May be. So far better than Malkovich' one-dimentional portrayal. If it wasn't for ludicrous concept, script, hideous jokes and idiocy of 2011 version, I'd say that melancholy filled Matthew Macfadyen's version was also good.

There is also the King Louis XIII. He was a weakling and an idiot, the series also makes him a man who is totally alone and relies on the presence of Richelieu. And sorry to say but Peter Capaldi so far is one of the weakest there. Of course not every cardinal has to be as pompous as Charlton Heston, but there's nothing terrifying about him, no power, nothing. Just a usual Royal advisor, nothing much.

And don't get me started on Milady. Faye Dunaway came and cleaned the house being the best Milady ever. EVER!

   Now, I know it's not the Lester's film, and I know no version will come close to it (did I mention the perfect Athos?), and this 2014 series, while I enjoyed the first episode, had also few things that I can't classify as only my whims.
The clothes. I almost ripped my own, seeing how inacurate the fashion from 1630 is here.
The political correctness. I realized it's been going on for some time in BBC productions.
The early disclosure of reasons for which Athos prefers wine to people.
The lack of Aramis' predisposition to be a priest. Sorry, but Richard Chamberlain's Aramis is still superior. Even with silly jokes.
Music was bland and out of the time period.
No Rochefort yet.
Milady de Winter.

It's still better than the godsawful version from 1993 and some celuloid cauchemar that was 2011 version. Yet, it's somewhat disappointing as well. Me, I will be watching because Dumas is one of the Apostles of literature for me and Athos is a magical character. Let's hope they won't kill it.
Verdict? I will watch it. For Dumas.