Sinbad 1.04 "Old Man Of The Sea” REVIEW
Writer: James Dormer
Director: Andy Wilson
THE ONE WHERE While stuck in a windless sea, the crew of the Providence rescue an old man from a ghost ship, and Nala wishes they hadn’t.
VERDICT Sorry, it’s an obvious gag but Sinbad has well and truly hit the doldrums here. Episode four of a new show seems way too early to resort to obvious budget-scrimping, but that’s what we get here: the nautical equivalent of trapping all your characters in a lift.
Not that this necessarily has to a bad thing in itself. It could have been a chance for the kind of bonding and character building that I’ve been complaining has been missing from the show so far. Alas no. Two or three moments aside, the dialogue remains largely functional, designed to explain the plot and the situation, rather than to let us peer into the souls of these characters and see how they interact. Even when the episode does reveal some background details – as with Nala – it feels more because the story requires it than as a way for us to get to empathise with her better. Tellingly, there’s a scene where Sinbad briefly seems interested in her past, but when she begins to explain it, he loses interest halfway through. Which could be a metaphor for what the audience is feeling.
Because the actual story is very, very dull. Timothy Spall tries his best to give the villain some presence but this has to be one of the most unexciting depictions of the Grim Reaper ever. Why appear as a plump Brummie with bad teeth? Why not something more terrifying or charming? Why play a bunch of cheap parlour tricks on Sinbad and co? Why not just kill them? Or ignore them? It all feels like a half-hearted exercise in filling 45 minutes.
Even the cook, by far the best character aside from Sinbad himself in previous weeks, is rubbish this week, though his chicken impersonation nearly redeems him.
Goodwill towards the show is evaporating fast, and its lack of ability to build any kind of chemistry between its lead characters is laid painfully bare in a story that relies so heavily on those characters. Aside from Sinbad, the cook (usually) and Anwar, the rest of the crew are so much driftwood.
HISTORY LESSON Anicetus is an apt name for Timothy Spall’s character. As mentioned in the show, it does indeed mean unconquerable (it is the Latin spelling of the Greek Anikêtos – one of the sons of Herakles), but it was also the name of a pirate during Roman times.
HISTORY LESSON 2 The ancient Greek considered butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away. Their word for butterfly was “Psyche”.
OUR CONCLUSION The writer of this episode knows how to use Wikipedia as well as we do…
A tie this week between:
Cook: “Cock-a-doodle-doo. Chicken. Chicken. Chicken…”
Anwar: “And there's his name.”
Gunnar: “Does it mean something?”
Anwar: “It means unconquerable.”
Sinbad: “So his parents were optimists…”