From Sharpe’s Gold to Sharpe’s Siege

TV miniseries/films reviews: Sharpe, based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell

Sharpe is a TV series about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. For those of us who love to watch men in uniform saving ladies in low-cut dresses, it doesn’t get much better than this. Sean Bean plays Sharpe to perfection. I started watching this series after falling for the talented Mr. Bean in his role as Boromir in Lord of the Rings. I have watched 14 out of 16 episodes. After 14 seemed to be a natural stopping point since (1) the Napoleonic Wars ended, and (2) I found Sean in a lovely version of Lady Chatterley that made watching Sharpe somewhat superfluous. (Somewhat = Sgt. Harper / Daragh O’Malley is not in Lady Chatterley.) The production website has a wealth of information on the series, so I’m not going to do much rehashing. What follows is a list of some of the more enjoyable scenes, characters, and plot devices (including spoilers).

6. Sharpe’s Gold

HATED THIS ONE!!! Absolutely stupid. Did the screenwriter forget that he had watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? OR think that nobody else had seen it? I looked the synopsis up, and surprise surprise, the screenwriter was quoted as saying “this story has nothing to do with the book [by Bernard Cornwell] by the same name.”

7. Sharpe’s Battle

One of the better episodes, from a spy vs. spy point of view. Also one of the few episodes where Sharpe is not involved with a slut in a skirt, so that’s refreshing. There is a great deal of swashbuckling with swords and racing around in wagons loaded with ammunition, very exciting.

Favorite scene: Lord Kiely’s wife has fainted, Sharpe carries her inside to Ramona. Ramona leaves the room for some water, and asks Sharpe to untie the Lady Kiely’s dress so she can breathe. Of course the lady revives to find Sharpe undressing her. However, since she is still in love with her STUPID colonel of a husband, she is appalled, instead of taking her turn with Richard. Too bad.

Young Perkins finally gets laid, but then his girlfriend gets killed and by the end he is dead as well. VERY SAD. This gives Harper a good excuse to go off in an Irish rage, though.

8. Sharpe’s Sword

This episode is one of my favorites, perhaps tying with the premier. Here’s a brief list of highlights:

Emily Mortimer plays a novice struck mute by terror! She renounces the Church by passionately throwing away her crucifix on a chain! Sharpe wears the crucifix around his own neck until she regains her faith (shades of Edward Fairfax Rochester! sniffle)!

James Purefoy! James Purefoy!! James Purefoy!!! (That’s as brief as I can be.)

Harris has to crack a code based on Voltaire’s Candide! He manages to do so, even though the author of the code is the best French agent EVER! Tons of spy vs. spy.

Sitterson reappears and is disgustingly evil. Emily Mortimer forces him (at knifepoint) to swallow a gold coin after he threatens to rape her and make her his slave. All while still mute! This makes him even hotter for her, so he tries to rape her AGAIN the next day, and James Kavanagh has to subdue him with a sword. YUM.

Sharpe turns back into a Man of Integrity temporarily (probably because they poured ice-cold water over him to bring down a fever), and resists the lusting novice. (“Give it a REST, lass!”) Although they do their best to IMPLY that he shags her: he kisses her at least once while she is in her nightgown, Harper keeps Harris from interrupting, and (miracle of miracles) she speaks her first word: “Richard…” and then “I love you….” To which he responds, “I wish I could say the same.” So he probably did shag her. Despite the fact that his fever-causing wound is still bleeding and he can’t walk without a cane.

Harper finally marries Ramona. This scene is absolutely hilarious.

9. Sharpe’s Regiment

The beginning of the end for me. Jane Gibbons, Sharpe’s new skirt, is the most beastly simpering idiot. And what is wrong with her eyes?! She could play Cathy the snake-woman from East of Eden. What he sees in her is absolutely beyond me (other than her cleavage, and there is no lack of that around for Sharpe to choose from). Especially compared to another new character, Lady Anne, who is a terrific spy. My respect for Sharpe took another abrupt plummet, and I only watched the rest of the series to hear Jane repeatedly being called a whore.

10. Sharpe’s Siege

Jane is brought down by a fever, but unfortunately survives.

Sharpe insults a French girl who offers him her virtue by telling her “I’d rather have the gold.” Then he has to fan himself, because he really wanted her. Very amusing.

The ending battle is very satisfying – they have run out of ammunition so they have to improvise.

To be continued next Monday!

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