Masterpiece Theater -- two Richard Sharpe episodes

I caught the first one last night – Sharpe’s Challenge – and enjoyed it. Another one will air this coming Sunday. Sean Bean plays Sharpe. Anyone else catch it?

It makes me wish PBS had the budget to do Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, but I imagine they’d be terribly expensive.

Are the novels as entertaining as the dramatization?

We saw Sharpe’s Challenge and thought it was pretty amateurish, in spite of being on Masterpiece. Sean Bean has been disappointing in almost everything I’ve seen him in. This was no exception.

I had set to DVR the next one, but have decided not to bother. I’ve seen Tarzan movies with better battle scenes.

I DVR most Masterpiece Theater shows on PBS - finally got around to see the first of the Judi Dench series that ran months ago.
I have this one on DVR and will do the same for next week’s episode.
Usually, Masterpiece Theater has some great shows, and rarely disappointed - especially considering a lot of the crap that is on TV now anyway.

Check out the Hornblower series.

The Sharpe episodes shown on British TV were excellent, even allowing for the Socialist bias. There’s an upper-class twit and a rant against privilege in almost every one. I imagine they were cut somewhat for American TV for the additional advertising.

AuntiePam, you do realize that PBS doesn’t make the Sharpe series, don’t you? It’s made for British TV and then sold to various TV channels around the world. While the money made by selling it to PBS for showing undoubtedly increased the budget for it by some amount, I don’t know how much. Does anyone have any idea what proportion of the gross for the Sharpe series comes from American TV showings and DVD sales?

I wish I had a DVR for that reason alone. I think you can also buy the series at Amazon.

No, I didn’t know that. :smack: Although I should have, since last week was pledge week on NPR and they spent a lot of time talking about how it works, how the local station buys programming from different sources. I should have realized that public TV works the same as public radio.

quartz, Hornblower it is! Thanks!

The story didn’t have any surprises – might even be considered cliched – but I liked it anyway. It’s not often that we get a costume/adventure story on TV. My husband even watched it and he never watches costume stuff.

I could watch and listen to Sean Bean all day (“Chosen men, eh? Well, *I *didn’t choose ya.”) so that’s a factor, but I love the Sharpe series.

The original episodes are much better than these last few they’ve made. I’ve been watching them lately with my 13-yr-old, and he’s enjoying them a lot more than I thought he would. Admittedly, you have to accept battles being fought with 15 extras. (The French column is always approaching from around a bend.)

AuntiePam, the Sharpe books have nowhere near the depth of the Aubrey-Maturin books, but I like them. The Sharpe in the books is darker and more bitter than Bean’s Sharpe. The older books are better than the newer ones, too, so I’d recommend reading them in publication order.

I like the A&E Hornblower series, too.

Several years ago BBC America showed a bunch of the Sharpe episodes during the summer, one episode each Saturday night. I think they showed all of them through Sharpe’s Challenge but not Sharpe’s Peril. So I’ll be recording Sunday’s Masterpiece Theater.

The two new Sharpe episodes are not based on the books, unlike most (but not all) of the original Sharpe series.

I prefer the original series, particularly the ones featuring Peter Postwaithe (sp?) playing Sargent Hakeswill with such delicious evil.

In the category of “impossible fantasy tv-moviemaking”, I’d love to see a remake of the Sharpe series, with much of the same (excellent) casting (though turning back time on the ages of the actors) but with a vastly increased budget … so you get Napoleonic battles with more than ten soldiers on each side. :wink: Plus, they could do the original first few books, set in India when Sharpe was still a young soldier.

[The two latest are set in India, but after the Napoleonic wars - sadly, Sean Bean is now a trifle too old to play a twenty-something soldier].

Pete Postlethwaite.

I rented quite a few of the Sharpe series off Netflix, and found them enjoyable. I got bored with the later movies and quit watching. I read one of the books, but it paled so badly in comparison to the Aubrey/Maturin series that I couldn’t enjoy it on its own merits.

I doubt the PBS sale added anything to the budget for making Sharpe’s Challenge. It was a co-production between ITV and BBC America, who both broadcast it in 2006 – the sale to PBS would have been long after production was finished, like most of the programmes broadcast as Masterpiece Theatre.

I have seen occasional British programmes with a co-production credit for WGBH Boston (who produce Masterpiece for PBS, among other things). The one I’ve seen most in the past was on the BBC2 documentary series Horizon, which I believe was shown on PBS as part of the Nova series.

A lot of the nature documentaries made by the BBC Natural History Unit have co-production credits with overseas channels like NHK, Discovery, National Geographic etc. I guess they chip in towards the large cost of sending film crews to the four corners of the world for years in exchange for broadcast rights.


In any case, my point was that the budget for the Sharpe series was a little larger because it is being shown around the world, not just on British TV. It’s still not a very large budget, as other people here have pointed out.