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Author Topic: Try Sharpe  (Read 607 times)

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Try Sharpe
« on: August 23, 2019, 01:09:55 PM »
Want a TV suggestion? Try Sharpe

Looking for a TV series full of great writing, acting, and swashbuckling adventures?

Look no further than Sharpe, starring Sean Bean, which ran from 1993 through 2008. Based on a series of books by Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe follows the adventures of its namesake, Richard Sharpe. Set primarily in the Napoleonic Wars, Sharpe is an army officer raised from the ranks. This sets him apart from the vast majority of British Army officers of the period, most of whom purchased their commissions or were appointed based on their membership of the British upper classes. We quickly learn that Sharpe is not welcomed by many of his equals or superiors; they deride him as an invader to the elite ranks of military society.

That pretense of class versus merit is a sustaining one in the Sharpe series, of which there are 16 episodes ranging approximately 90 minutes each. For Americans who view the British class system through the prism of lovely royals and big palaces, Sharpe offers a grounding counterpoint as to the darker side of that system, and of course a stark contrast to America's stunningly egalitarian ethos, which Americans, isolated from European social customs, take completely for granted.

Sharpe, ultimately, is a military adventure series. It's about the bonds of skilled soldiers fighting in brutal conditions. It's about wide landscapes across the Iberian Peninsula. It's about life and death. It's about heroism. It's about adventure. We see Sharpe and his squad of "chosen men" storming through mountains, across rivers, and against the parapets. But thanks to Cornwell, there's a sustaining historical foundation to the series. We see the Siege of Badajoz, for example, where British soldiers went on a rampage after suffering thousands of casualties assaulting the fort. We also see, in the climactic episode of the Napoleonic-era series arc, Sharpe and his men playing a central role at Waterloo.

Most of all, this is a hard-headed adventure series. It's entertainment that doesn't try to lecture, but rather tries to provoke contemplation.

You should check it out.