Sinbad: The Complete First Season DVD Review: A Unique Version with a BBC Twist

Most people’s idea of Sinbad is of the swashbuckling hero from the Ray Harryhausen films of the 1970s. But the BBC has brought forth and the Syfy channel has recently broadcast a re-invented version of the adventurer and his legendary journeys.

Sinbad (Elliott Knight) and his brother, Jamil (Devon Anderson ), are a couple of street rats doing whatever it takes to put food in their mouths and take care of their invalid mother and elderly grandmother. This includes lying, stealing, and fighting.

It’s during one of these fights that Sinbad is pushed onto his path of destiny. While Jamil takes the bets on the winner, Sinbad does all the fighting. Unbeknownst to our future hero, his knockout blow that puts his opponent down for the count is also a fatal blow as his head smacks against a jagged piece of stone.

Caught up in the celebration and enjoying the payout the two brothers are shocked when they are arrested for murder. But not only is it a serious crime, but the victim also turns out to be the son of Lord Akbari (Naveen Andrews) who is extremely angry demanding the death penalty for Sinbad. And to partially satisfy his appetite for revenge, Akbari kills Jamil in front of his eyes so he too can feel the loss of losing a loved one.

While awaiting his morning execution, Sinbad manages to escape his prison and races home in order to get the rest of his family out of town before the soldiers come looking for them too. When he approaches his grandmother (Janet Suzman) and explains what has happened to his brother, she is furious. She clamps an iron band around his neck and places a curse on it. He can no longer spend more than a single day at a time on land or else the necklace will kill him.

In order to escape Lord Akbari and the curse of the necklace, Sinbad stows away aboard a merchant vessel. But shortly after boarding the ship is attacked by some kind of demons that kills the captain and crew, leaving behind a handful of passengers and Cook (Junix Inocian), the only surviving member of the original crew. Without a leader and nobody willing to step up and assume the role of captain, Sinbad ends up with the title thrust upon him. Not knowing where they are or how to sail the ship, the newly pressed crew stumbles about running into many different adventures, all the while, Taryn (Orla Brady), a dark priestess has weaseled her way into Lord Akbari’s favor and is sending creatures of magic after their ship.

The three-disc set contains 12 episodes and three special features. “The Magic of Sinbad” is an in-depth documentary that covers every aspect of the television show from the characters, to the actors, the storyline and most importantly, the magic. “The Magic of Malta” is hosted by Marama Corlett as she takes you on a tour through the city showing off all of the landmarks and the different sets where many famous films were shot. There’s even a section on the giant water sets that were used to give the illusion of the ship being at sea. Overall it is one of the best special features segments included on any DVD set. “The Magical Costumes of Sinbad” is all about the costumes, how they are designed, what inspires the looks and how they are created. It’s a little dull for those not really into the costuming craft, but it is still very interesting to watch.

This latest incarnation of Sinbad is a nicely unique version. Mostly because it’s a BBC production, the storylines have a different twist and feel to them and don’t end up pandering to clichés that have become too common in American television. There is a slight bit of humor to the episodes, but not so much as to make it cheesy. It’s very well balanced.

The casting is interesting because it’s not simply just the best-looking actors they could find. With the exception of the main character, everyone else looks like normal people. And each one of the characters is fairly well fleshed out. Rina (Corlett) is the tiny pickpocket running away from her terrible childhood. Anwar (Dimitri Leonidas) is the doctor who for some unknown reason has left his family and way of life behind. And Gunnar (Eliot Cowan) is a bloodthirsty warrior who has had his fill of bloodshed and is on his own personal path to redemption.

There are a lot of good things working for the show. The scenic locations are beautiful and special effects are near movie quality. It’s also nice that the season has an arc that is developed and actually comes to some kind of resolution. The season does not leave you hanging. The quest to remove the curse is completed. Lord Akbari is no longer chasing them and Sinbad even comes to terms with losing his brother.

Shortly after Season One was completed, the series was cancelled. Sinbad may live once again in future films or television programs, but for now fans will have to be content with just the DVDs of this one enjoyable sesaon.

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Todd Karella

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