After a barnstorming and rather hurried pilot episode, the second instalment of Sinbad appears to have set the pace for the rest of this ambitious series.
Having fled Basra, Sinbad and his crew find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean, squabbling over how to sail a ship and debating where the nearest port is. The cast do well to hold this opening together, although Sinbad (Elliot Knight) is the only one with any real meat on his character bones, so long as you can avoid being distracted from his costume which seems to resemble that of a ‘90s boy band.
While this scene is a world away from the breathless street chases and spectacular city landscapes seen last time round, the witty dialogue and chemistry between the characters prevents any early boredom setting in, although younger viewers may fail to grasp some of the subtle humour.
However, it’s not long before Sinbad and his friends find themselves in peril. After laying anchor off a small island, their ship is boarded and they are taken hostage by a group of mysterious children and young adolescents that can only be described as an Aztec tribe who have read Lord of the Flies once too often.
Our heroes’ captors are revealed to belong to a people known as the water-thieves, led by the spirited Queen Razia (guest star Sophie Okonedo). Almost inevitably, Sinbad’s roguish charm quickly catches the eye of Razia, who persuades Sinbad to spend the majority of the episode in her bed chamber, although it is clear Sinbad does not need much persuasion.
This is where Elliot Knight excels as the flawed hero, displaying Sinbad’s arrogant and more selfish side but while the dramatic exchanges between Razia and Sinbad are tense and well-written, the predictable love story feels as though it is forced into the plot. Thankfully, it does not last long, and Sinbad ends up having a better relationship with Razia’s huge CGI pet bird, involving a rather strange message about freedom and culminating in a very unsubtle reference to Braveheart.
While Sinbad may struggle finding its footing with the more emotional subplots, it has no trouble in providing an efficient finale, which sees Rina, Gunnar, Nala and Anwar (who are imprisoned for most of the time) and Sinbad attempt to escape the island while being pursued by hordes of the water-thieves tribe. The action is visually impressive but it is broken up by one of the emotional subplots, which sees one of the tribe being revealed as Razia’s son. From then on, the action falters slightly and the direction loses focus as the twist is brought too late into the episode, but it is not enough to spoil it.
All in all, this week’s instalment is an improvement on the first and if Sinbad can find a healthy balance between action and emotion it promises to be a successful series for Sky1.
Aired at 7pm on Sunday 15th July 2012 on Sky1.
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