In the vein of big-screen adventures like MASTER AND COMMANDER (2003), A&E's
made-cable-TV swashbucklers are energetic and well-acted. 1803: Once commander of the Retribution, Horatio Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) is now just another unemployed seaman; tentative peace between France and England has relegated
officers like Horatio to half-pay in Portsmouth, England. Although his landlady, Mrs. Mason (Barbara Flynn), is a bloodsucker, her daughter, Maria Mason (Julia Sawalha), intercedes to keep a roof over Horatio's head. As always, Admiral Edward Pellew (Robert Lindsay) steps in to save his protegee's bacon and appoints Horatio to helm the Hotspur. The only catch is t...