SYFY Sinbad

Syfy dusts off the “Sinbad” (9 tonight, TV-14) story for a whole new generation. The special effects-driven fantasy also asks audiences to identify with heroes of a non-Western culture and complexion.

Elliot Knight stars in the title role, and he’s first seen in a fight club somewhere in the city of Basra, located in modern-day Iraq. The period is not determined, but emphatically pre-industrial. As in many fantasy stories, we’re told that the age of magic is slowly giving way to belief in science. (Exactly the opposite of the philosophy of today’s cable TV executives!)

At first, Sinbad is getting badly beaten by a cruel opponent, but unbeknownst to his adversary, he’s taking a dive just long enough for an accomplice to place a long-shot bet on him. Then they can all clean up when the fighting is over.

Sinbad projects a brash confidence. He swaggers when he walks down the streets and winks at children like characters in Mickey Rourke movies of old. He’s going to need that moxie, because fate is not on his side.

Not to give too much away, but our charming hero accidentally kills his opponent in the ring, and that unhappy boxer turns out to be the son of the powerful Lord Akbari (Naveen Andrews, “Lost”). That and other complications, including a stolen amulet and a curse from his grandmother, send Sinbad on an unhappy voyage of exile, confronting one darned digitalized monster after another for 12 action-packed episodes.

According to my crystal ball, viewers will have to settle for these dozen “Sinbad” adventures. This series originally ran on Sky TV in the U.K. and was canceled after one season.

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