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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > TV > Sharpe’s Challenge (2006/BBC Blu-ray) + Sharpe’s Peril (2008/BBC Blu-ray + DVD)

Sharpe’s Challenge (2006/BBC Blu-ray) + Sharpe’s Peril (2008/BBC Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B-/B-/C+     Sound: B-/B/C+     Extras: C+     Telefilms: B-



Sometimes a TV franchise has unique success and finds itself doing well long after its initial broadcast.  The Sharpe series from the 1990s with Sean Bean as adventurer Richard Sharpe was a major hit on TV and then on DVD for BFS.  When it ended, it seemed that was the wrap-up, but in 2006, Bean returned for two more runs as the character to date and they are now on Blu-ray (the first time any have been issued in High Definition) and DVD.  Sharpe’s Challenge (2006) and Sharpe’s Peril (2008) have been picked up by the BBC and fans should know it is as if the show never ended.


For those of you unfamiliar with the series and characters, you can read more about the original series at this link:





That makes these installments #15 and #16 in the series.  In Challenge, the Duke of Wellington (victorious over Napoleon) sends Sharpe to free the kidnapped daughter of a general by a vicious Indian warlord.  Toby Stephens, Daragh O’Malley, Hugh Fraser, Padma Lakshmi, Lucy Brown and Michael Cochrane also star in this decent return installment that does not abandon the pace of the old show.  Not that I was the biggest fan of the older show, but I can see it appeal to fans.


Showing that the return was no fluke, Peril has Sharpe and Harper (O’Malley) has him back in India battling all kinds of thieves, backstabbers, bandits and killers in another tale that reminds up of the colonial origins of the show and how it revisits old British action genres of the British Empire in their controlled territories.  It is all we have seen in earlier shows, but has some energy and is a little better than the first installment overall in pacing.


Fans will be happy, but unless you are going to see the Blu-ray editions, you might as well start with the earliest programs.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is a little noisy and weak on both Blu-rays, possibly to match the new shows with the old ones, but I think that is a mistake.  Directors of Photography Nigel Willoughby and James Aspinall (Wire In The Blood, TV series reviewed elsewhere on this site) do a good job but the producers should have gone for more clarity and still could have had the look and feel of the old shows just the same.  Both versions of Challenge and the DVD of Peril only offer Dolby Digital 5.1 mixed that are better than the old shows, but not as much as they could be.  More money was put out for the sound on Peril, so the Blu-ray has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 and easily has the best sound of any Sharpe release to date.  That too could have offered a better soundfield, but will impress fans who have settled for simple stereo for years now.


Extras in both versions of both productions include a Photo Gallery, while Challenge adds two feature length audio commentaries (one with Bean and O’Malley, the other with Director Tom Clegg, who directs both installments here and helmed the original shows), Creating the HD Master featurette, a Behind-The-Scenes featurette, Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.  Peril adds a 100 minutes telefilm version of the 138 minutes version here.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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