"The Musketeers" is a pretty terrible show, what with its desecration of classic literature, its attempt to be all 'adult' and 'racy' (and, worse, it's abject failure to do so), and its evident desire to be something else. I sometimes wonder if they knew while filming it that they were producing a terrible show, or if they really thought they were making something good and it has just gone horribly wrong?
This week's episode was a case in point. On the face of it, it may have seemed a good idea - it had all the elements needed: a seeming attack on the King, the Musketeers investigating a politically-dangerous woman, intrigue, and assassination attempt, Athos falling in love... There was even an opportunity to make a social point about the education of women, ticking the BBC's political correctness card. Huzzah!
But it sucked, because the needs of the political correctness card meant that it had to play out a certain way: the "politically-dangerous woman" had to be idealistic but, ultimately, innocent of any wrong-doing. Yet, despite being a "strong, powerful woman", she had to run into trouble and need the noble Hero (Athos) to rescue her.
And that point about "education of women" ultimately had no impact, because all that could be done is for the makers to preach at us: in the UK, it's not a question whether women should be educated or not. Indeed, merely considering it makes me feel dumb: of course women should be educated. I get that that's not a universally-accepted conclusion around the world, and that's really unfortunate (and needs changed), but a light-entertainment programme from the UK (especially a bad one) isn't going to change that.
Now, if they'd really wanted to do something edgy on the topic, how about a single, simple change: instead of our feminist educator being an innocent unjustly accused of witchcraft, how about making her a true radical - her agenda is not merely the education of women (again, a Good Thing), but to go beyond that: the abolition of the monarchy, and the removal of the patriarchal church from power in the land. (And before you say 'anachronism', let me just note that "The Musketeers" doesn't have even the faintest claim to historical accuracy, or indeed accuracy of any sort.)
That way, you have a much more ambiguous story. In "The Musketeers", the King, despite being an ill-tempered teenager, actually isn't a terribly bad sort. The Queen, certainly, doesn't deserve the sort of treatment that a revolution would bring. And even Richelieu is a rather ambiguous figure in many respects - sure, he's the bad guy, but he's also clearly shown to be Good For France. Making that change would also mess with our Heroes' abilities to pick a side, since they are sworn agents of the very power structure she then opposes, and Aramis is (nominally at least) still destined for the church, while Athos and Porthos could go either way. That's actually got some interest built in.
But, alas, no. Instead, we get this oh-so-terrible bogeywoman thrown up (Oh, horrors! Women might become educated!!!), then some running around, and then (surprise!) it turns out that the feminist is right all along. Well, yes, she is. I didn't need you to take an hour to tell me that, though.
Anyway, I believe there are three episodes to go: this week's D'Artagnan-centric episode, then presumably one about Porthos, and then the series finale in which, and I'm just guessing here, D'Artagnan gets to become a Musketeer after all in a surprising but inevitable plot twist. Huzzah!
(Also, on the subject of subtraction, we're now down to 3. The flat electrics are done, and I'm hoping to get the kitchen light done this weekend. Watch this space.)