The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Satur­day, 8.20pm, ABC1 Ev­ery­one loves a bit of swashbuckling, don’t they? There’s cer­tainly plenty of it, along with buck­et­loads of vi­o­lence, in this rein­ven­tion of a char­ac­ter that first ap­peared in ex­plorer Richard Bur­ton’s 1885 trans­la­tion of The Book of One Thou­sand and One Nights. Cu­ri­ously, while the show seems aimed at the same sort of youth­ful de­mo­graphic as Doc­tor Who, Sin­bad is not re­ally suit­able for young chil­dren. Set in Basra, in what is now south­ern Iraq, the se­ries fol­lows the ad­ven­tures of a healthy young man who hasn’t much to call his own. Though the an­cient city is beau­ti­fully re­stored, the re­gional ac­cents make you won­der if it isn’t all hap­pen­ing in a dis­used mar­ket some­where in East Lon­don. We first meet Sin­bad, played with tremen­dous phys­i­cal en­ergy by El­liot Knight, in a street fight. Though he ap­pears to be tak­ing a shock­ing beat­ing, Sin­bad keeps an eye on his brother Jamil (Devon An­der­son), who is up in the stands, scamming the equiv­a­lent of a bookie. Once the bet is placed at ridicu­lous odds, Sin­bad gains the up­per hand. Un­for­tu­nately, his op­po­nent, the son of the pow­er­ful Lord Ak­bari (Naveen An­drews, of Lost fame) dies. Ak­bari has the throat of Jamil cut in re­venge. The broth­ers’ spooky old grand­mother (Janet Suz­man) blames Sin­bad for Jamil’s death. Grief-stricken and fu­ri­ous, she con­jures up an amulet that af­fixes it­self to Sin­bad’s neck. He is now cursed to drift for­ever at sea and can­not come ashore for more than one cy­cle of the sun. McCloud is usu­ally filmed pop­ping in to mon­i­tor high-end home­own­ers as they grap­ple with prob­lems such as vaulted ceil­ings that don’t vault, con­trac­tors that don’t arrive on time and rea­son­ably well-off folk ex­ceed­ing epic bud­gets while they armwres­tle plan­ning au­thor­i­ties for per­mis­sion to build an in­dul­gent atroc­ity. In this pro­gram, McCloud is de­ter­mined to prove — us­ing his own money — that ev­ery­one can have a grand de­sign. For once the strain is on McCloud as he strives to find a site, then build 50 beau­ti­ful bud­get homes. He is hop­ing to in­spire the builders who de­sign cheap hous­ing in Bri­tain to get their act to­gether and stop build­ing places that look like pe­nal in­sti­tu­tions. This time it’s McCloud who looks ashen when things don’t go to plan, when bud­gets over­run and when con­trac­tors let him down. It’s McCloud who oc­ca­sion­ally looks as if he’s about to ex­plode when he feels he is be­ing judged. A bril­liant in­ver­sion of the typ­i­cal re­al­ity-TV for­mat with a host who demon­strates that he is more than a smarmy git made rich by his own long-run­ning show. on­set of her fatal ill­ness. As the only one who knows about it, Frances (Vir­ginia Gay) tries to be a cool friend but keeps putting her foot in it.

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