With The Musketeers, the BBC is taking a stab (no pun intended) at reviving another TV staple - the glossy Sunday night family drama - and on this early evidence, Primeval creator Adrian Hodges's revamp of the Alexandre Dumas classic is a palpable hit.
Hodges makes The Three Musketeers work for a modern age by essentially using Dumas's 1844 story as the template for a period procedural - right down to the tongue-lashing they receive from Hugo Speer's Captain Treville in his office, our Musketeers are cast as the maverick cops of 17th century Paris.
There's plenty of action, humour and saucy bed-hopping from the get-go, while the framing story is, appropriately enough, a framing story - Athos (Tom Burke) finds himself accused of murders he did not commit, while an innocent D'Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) also faces the blame for another's crime.
D'Artagnan's backstory - he's an angry young kid who must overcome his thirst for revenge in order to become a true hero - is an invention of Hodges's, but it's hardly novel. Thankfully, a spirited performance from Luke Pasqualino helps to smooth over any cracks.
Burke, Howard Charles and Santiago Cabrera also impress as our Musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Each of our heroes is more or less defined by a singular trait, meaning that they're sketched rather thinly at this early stage - Athos is steely, Porthos brash, Aramis a romantic - but that's fine for now. Development and evolution is what the next nine weeks are for.
It'll come as little surprise to anyone that Peter Capaldi - our new Doctor - is also a delight as the devious Cardinal Richelieu, scowling and skulking about in the shadows with his husky voice and sinister beard. It's true that for much of the episode's running time, the Cardinal seems perhaps not quite dastardly enough - you're itching for him to do something truly despicable - but in the final moments, which involve a double murder and plenty of glowering, Richelieu's established as a truly formidable villain.
But while our heroes and their nemesis are presented in sketchy if satisfying form, the female characters in The Musketeers come off less well. The standout here is the spiky Constance, played by the terrific Tamla Kari, but even she's briefly reduced to the role of eye-catching totty to be used as a tool by the menfolk.
Granted, Hodges is hampered somewhat in his representation of women by the period, but part of putting a modern spin on The Musketeers should be finding meaningful roles for the show's female characters.
That grumble aside, this premiere is a promising opener with heaps of potential, boasting action, romance and some genuine wit. The extensive location filming in Prague has also clearly paid off - you wouldn't describe it as "gritty", but the location work lends the show a grounded feel.
A slick, whirlwind adventure, The Musketeers is essentially old-fashioned fare with a fresh lick of paint, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
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