Many of television's heavy-hitters are filled with wrenching moments, whether "red weddings" or situations so presumably staggering that they set the entire TV-watching crowd ablaze. Sinbad, produced by Impossible Pictures and initially broadcast on Sky1 in the United Kingdom, is no such show.
Yet its single season of a dozen episodes offers a sea of delights all its own, especially for the less fussy viewer. What winds up being the complete Sinbad is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Malta-filmed series brims with the sort of youthful cool that might prove annoying in other circumstances, but its diverse cast and gorgeous sets and costumes make Sinbad an above-average television fantasy.
The series begins with the titular hero, played with a predictable smidge of Captain Jack Sparrow by Elliot Knight, accidentally killing the son of Lord Akbari (Naveen Andrews). In order to settle the score, Sinbad's brother is killed as payment for the blood debt. Unfortunately for the hero, the powerful Akbari isn't satisfied.
Sinbad's grandmother Safia (Janet Suzman) is also far from satisfied, so she curses her grandson with a talisman that prevents him from remaining on land for more than one "cycle of the sun." Banished to the sea, Sinbad stows away on a ship that is beset by sea demons. When the dust settles, the remaining crew and the stowaway set out for unanticipated adventure.
The crew of the ship includes Gunnar (Elliot Cowen), Rina (Marama Corlett), Anwar (Dimitri Leonidas), Nala (Estella Daniels), and the cook (Junix Inocian). This group of character makes for some good fun as they all have their own motivations and proclivities. Rina, for instance, is a thief with a rather flexible sense of honour. The cook, meanwhile, uses his culinary aptitude to his advantage.
Sinbad is one of those "something for the whole family" television shows. It doesn't take many risks to that end, but it does offer enough variety to hold interest though its 12 episodes. The story possibilities are endless, from the Water Thieves encountered in the swift and wet second episode to the giant egg gambit of the tenth episode.
Guest stars range from the tremendous Timothy Spall as Anicetus to Georgia King as the memorable Roisin. The main cast is more than up to the task of carrying the series and Knight is a charismatic if unoriginal lead. There is plenty of eye candy around, too, which certainly helps raise Sinbad's sails.
This certainly isn't a show on the level of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, but there's little about Sinbad that purports to be anything but good-looking fun. It's more reminiscent of Xena: Warrior Princess than any modern fare, which certainly works in its favour for those looking for a change of pace from some of the overly serious stuff that makes it on TV.
The Blu-ray edition looks crisp and colourful, with glorious shots of the open water and some rather thrilling landscapes looking as pristine as Sinbad's guyliner. For a show that is very clean and very visually-oriented, the 1080p format is a must. The audio comes in DTS-HD 5.1, which makes the creatures and magic sound involving and engaging.
There are three features on the two-disc (despite what the image says) Blu-ray edition. Each is of the "Making Of" variety, with subjects covered including the costumes, background and location shooting of the series. There are no episode commentaries.