Sharpe’s Challenge (2006/BBC Blu-ray) + Sharpe’s Peril (2008/BBC Blu-ray + DVD)
B-/B-/C+ Sound: B-/B/C+ Extras: C+ Telefilms: B-
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.
of you unfamiliar with the series and characters, you can read more about the
original series at this link:
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.
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.
be happy, but unless you are going to see the Blu-ray editions, you might as
well start with the earliest programs.
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.
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