Sean Bean’s Major Sharpe Gets a Resurrection (Of Sorts)
I’m not sure how many readers will have caught The Frankenstein Chronicles which went out on British television recently, but I imagine a fair few would have found something of value in the creepy six part series, even if it was only the welcome return (well, sort of) of Sean Bean’s classic Sharpe character. Before his successful transition into the movies and that meandering HBO series, well, the first season anyway, Bean had already made a household name for himself on British television playing Major Richard Sharpe, celebrated working-class war hero of the Peninsular Campaign.
In The Frankenstein Chronicles, the ever-dependable Bean plays Inspector John Marlott, a grizzled, care-worn policeman, haunted by his troubled past (just the kind of character I like to see) investigating the appearance of a child’s corpse washed up on the bank of the Thames. The body, which at first appears to still be alive, turns out to have been stitched together from the bodies of several unlucky kids. Marlott’s investigation takes him from the poverty-stricken streets of London, to the heights of Georgian society as he gets closer and closer to discovering who created the abomination, and why. Interestingly, the series is set in a world which acknowledges the existence of Mary Shelley’s famous novel and Shelley herself is an incidental character.
The main draw though, is Sean Bean. He’s good at this kind of thing. I’d say he’s pretty much the go-to-guy for material like this, being able to do it quite effortlessly in his sleep. And although his character here isn’t officially related to the swashbuckling hero Richard Sharpe, there are so many references to that series, that I, as a fan ever since I was a kid, had a massive shit-eating grin on my face whilst I watched this.
Marlott himself is uncompromising. His frequently underhanded tactics reminded me of ol’ Vic Mackey from The Shield, as he strong-arms the pimps, killers and other assorted trash of historic London. There’s a particularly good scene where he and his men use lethal force to take down an impoverished family of mass murderers who suffocate their victims to order, just to make a few shillings. A word of warning though, Marlott’s inept right hand man, Nightingale, is such a snivelling and miserable bloody cur that you might find yourself feeling irritated and aggrieved at Marlott having to fucking put up with him, like I did. He’s the kind of character who’d be more at home in a series like ‘The Walking Dead,’ where at least he’d eventually, and deservingly, get his wrists bitten into and his intestines munched on by walkers.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, most of the shows people seem to talk about these days are, in my opinion, overrated. And I’m not saying that The Frankenstein Chronicles is that good, it’s somewhat clichéd for example. But I was genuinely compelled to see it through. At only six episodes, this one certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. And the end was good, leaving the doors open for a spectacular, bloody and revenge driven sequel, which I’d fucking love to see happen. And if it does, I hope that lame-ass Nightingale dude either redeems himself, or gets wasted, or both.