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03 February 2013


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The Twisted Genius

Thans for the heads up, PL. This does look intriguing. If anyone else is as cheap as me and refuses to dole out the ducats for cable or satellite, the series is available on YouTube. I've watched the whole "Sharpe's Rifles" series on YouTube.

Abu Sinan

We watched this the other night and really enjoyed it. The only draw back was that it seems either WETA/UK or our cable has an issue and it cuts in and out for about 30 seconds even 20 minutes or so. In the case of the last episode we watched, during a dramatic court scene.

Charles I

It is a great series.

For something at the other end of the legal spectrum, I first encountered Andrew Buchan as John Mercer in ITV's 12 part series "The Fixer:

Set in modern Britain, it follows the life of an ex-British Special Forces soldier arrested by police after he killed his aunt and uncle following his discharge from the military. He is recruited from prison to serve in a covert police squad as a government-backed assassin responsible for eliminating criminals and renegade police officers that the law cannot apprehend.


Its a really good run, watch for Paul Mullan playing "Lenny", the grizzled tough leader of the assassination cell who ruthlessly manipulates his crew. Mullan recently turned in a very good hand as a British gangster, " Peter" in 2012's The Liability.

I highly recommend both The Fixer and The liability, the latter with the added bonus of Tim Roth starring as a beleaguered hitman doing one last job.

Medicine Man

I like the Sharpe's series too. I only wish they'd had the budget to reproduce more of what Bernard Cornwell wrote (big battles, etc.). Lots of actors I like in those films though. Sean Bean, roughly treated in US cinema, is a joy to watch. Daragh O'Malley plays a good Harper and Pete Postlethwaite played an absolutely loathsome Hakeswill. Good fun all around.

David Habakkuk


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the – very fine – rendition of ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ by John Tams in the ‘Sharpe’ series sanitises the original song. The original version comes in the play ‘The Recruiting Officer’, written in 1706, in the wake of the Battle of Blenheim, by George Farquhar, who had himself been a recruiting officer.

The first two verses are sung by Sergeant Kite, when he has got two young men he hopes to recruit drunk:

“Our ‘prentice Tom may now refuse/To wipe his scoundrel master’s shoes,/For now he’s free to sing and play/Over the hills and far away.

“We shall lead more happy lives/By getting rid of brats and wives/That scold and brawl both night and day,/Over the hills and far away.”

The song is later taken up by Captain Plume:

“Over the hills, and far away./Courage boys, it’s one to ten/But we return all gentlemen;/While conq’ring colours we display,/Over the hills, and far away.”

The ‘sales pitch’ Kite and Plume deploy portrays soldiering as an escape from the constraints of ‘respectable’ life – including being tied down by women and children – but also as honourable. The same ambivalence is present in the related Scottish song which begins ‘Twa recruiting sergeants came frae the Black Watch’.

A spirited rendition is at


Medicine Man

Apropos of nothing, one of my favorite scenes from Sharpe's Sword: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPpkIEifWx8&list=PLA63AFA477036B884

Sir Henry Simmerson's "duel" with Father Curtis; high grade just desserts.

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