This UK action adventure puts the "bad" in Sinbad. Shame about that.
It can be ever so treacherous trying to produce television for a family audience. How do you speak to such a broad demographic without dumbing down the content? Do you lean more towards males or females?
The consensus is if you skew towards males, you’ll pick up females along the way, but not the reverse. Hence FMC has Conspiracy 365 on air this year. More recently we’ve seen the UK’s Primeval and, arguably the best of them, Merlin.
Now ABC1 brings us the adventurous Sinbad, also from Primeval‘s Impossible Pictures.
It stars Elliot Knight as the mythical Persian sailor, who sailed the seas of Africa and Asia, meeting monsters and facing magical adventures.
Knight is a dashing young hero with his thick eyeliner, buff torso, wind-swept hair and five o’clock shadow. Together with an outfit that could have been picked up at a GAP store, he’s managed to turn Sinbad into a bit of a poster boy.
We meet our hero on the streets of Basra with his brother Jamil (Devon Anderson). Both get into mischief beyond their capacity and Sinbad soon finds himself set against Lord Akbari (Naveen Andrews). Angered by his foolish behaviour, his grandmother exiles him to sea and curses him with an amulet. Thanks, granny.
So begins the voyages for which the young Persian has become famous, stowing away on a merchant ship which encounters all sorts of CGI terror on the high seas.
There’s not a lot of depth to this yarn, which is quick to lurch from one moment of peril to the next. But the characters espouse dialogue that is more fitting for children’s TV rather than a family audience, with distracting British accents from Middle-Eastern and Maltese performers.
Naveen Andrews, who was so compelling in Lost, is allowed no room for subtext or emotional depth. Elliot Knight handles the action scenes well and may fill the brief as a cool, juvenile hero, but this undervalues the magnitude of a literary legend.
Added to that, as action television it is tepid in its tension.
The series was originally set to air on Nine (who may well have wisely reconsidered), and whilst it may pair conveniently with the vastly superior Doctor Who on Saturdays, I’m seeing this one as putting the “bad” in Sinbad.
And not in a good way.
Sinbad airs 8:20pm Saturdays on ABC1.