Sinbad 1.02 "Queen Of The Water Thieves” REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer James Dormer
Director Andy Wilson
THE ONE WHERE The crew of the providence almost become some savages' dinner while Sinbad becomes the sexual plaything of their ruthless queen.
VERDICT Episode two, and already we’re in body-painted, grunting savages territory. Admittedly, the body-painting is magnificent – we have everything from Scottish football supporters through Casper the Friendly Ghost to Voodoo guy from Live And Let Die , not to mention a bloke with a bag on his head – but the whole premise has a whiff of overfamiliarity about it. You’re half expecting someone to announce “Welcome to the Thunderdome” at any point. The Providence crew are even imprisoned in mini-Thunderdomes in one scene.
The plot tries to beef things up with by trying to shift the emphasis away from a pure piece of capture-escape-cooking-pot pulpiness with some observations on power politics; the Queen of the Water Thieves only maintains her hold over her multi-coloured minions by proving she can out-badass the lot of them. But while Sophie Okonedo is fun when she‘s toying with Sinbad, she never convinces as the Aunty Entity of this particular bunch of savages.
Though it’s fun at times, and boasts some great action scenes and FX, the episode is all a little half-arsed and slightly silly-looking. While the main action may look a little CBBC, the episode is also bizarrely sprinkled with more adult moments, not least, the Queen’s kinky seduction of Sinbad. Elliot Knight and Okonedo play this well, but it feels slightly out of place; the episode is a little too adult for kids and too kiddie for adults. You can see it’s a show still trying to find its tone.
Sinbad suddenly turning Doctor Doolittle with the giant flying creature is a little odd too, though maybe we’ll see he has a way with mystical creatures in episodes to come. And it’s good to see the nature of the curse explained; the constricting torc is a great little gimmick.
Knight is still very watchable, though he doesn’t get as many decent lines as last week. The rest of the Providence crew, though, have little to do other than growl and bicker. After a promising pre-credit scene which shows them trying to work together, there’s little else in the way of character development aside from more mysteries (why won’t the Northmen fight?) and a hint of a bromance between Sinbad and the doctor. The ship’s cook gets some amusing moments but the two female members of the crew remain particularly thin in terms of characterisation. We need to see some more interesting interaction amongst them soon.
The annoying thing is, there seems be a really interesting story brewing back at Basra, with the Emir and Akbari at odds, and Taryn with her own agenda. Although it would be a mistake for Sinbad to become overly serialised this soon in its run, if the plots-of-the-week don’t become more adventurous, hopefully the arc plot will come to the fore.
Still, it’s only episode two, and new shows have a habit of treading water for a while after a decent pilot. It’s still a solid enough slice of Sunday tea-time action adventure, but you can’t help hoping that it becomes a little more inventive and adventurous.(opens in new tab)
THE BEST BIT It might be a little cheesy, but the climactic moment when the giant bird thing flaps its wings to put some wind the sails of the Providence felt gloriously like a classic moment from a Ray Harryhausen film.
Water Thief: “No weapons. One rule. To the death.”
Rina: “If I win?”
Water Thief: “You live longer.”
Sinbad airs in the UK on Sky 1, Sundays, 7pm
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