Nothing says "late 90s" like a shitty low-budget action fantasy TV show. The hammy performances. The cheesy costumes. The horribly choreographed fight scenes. The sub-PlayStation-caliber CGI. The essence of the halcyon days of my youth.
I know a lot of people look back fondly on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: The Warrior Princess, but that's because those shows actually had some talent behind them. I'll still catch the occasional Hercules rerun on Boom and enjoy the hell out of it. Even their less successful Action Pack siblings - Cleopatra 2525 (a strong contender for worst theme song of all time) and the criminally underrated Bruce Campbell vehicle Jack of All Trades - had their charms.
But what really brings me spinning like a chakram back to that magical era of Edgardo Alfonzo at second base are the really crappy specimens. BeastMaster. Highlander: The Series. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (exceptionally foxy female cast notwithstanding). Mortal Kombat: Konquest. Tarzan: The Epic Adventures. And of course, the absolute shittiest of them all.
The Adventures of Sinbad!
I had totally forgotten this show existed until my brother found whole episodes posted on YouTube and we basked in the warming glow of its crapulence once more. I don't know what exactly it is about The Adventures of Sinbad, but it's way ahead of the rest of the pack in the shittiness department. Maybe it's because it's a Canadian production. Maybe because the title character is played by a guy in a headband named Zen Gesner. Maybe it's because the animal sidekick is a fucking falcon (actually, that kinda rules). Maybe it's the trademark lack of political correctness of a simpler, edgier time. Whatever it is, I was just floored by the shittiness. So I decided I had to share it with the internet.
And now, this is where I subject you to a recap of The Adventures of Sinbad - Episode 1: "Return of Sinbad"~!!
We start things off with some establishing shots of Sinbad's hometown of Baghdad, and already things are hilariously racist. I will say this right off the bat, though - the production values on this aren't abysmal. That's a lot of extras. And the costumes and sets aren't even as bad as they could be. From the looks of things some schmucky Canuck sank a decent amount of money into this shit sandwich. Or at least the pilot episode, anyway.
Signs This Guy Is The Main Character:
1) The only white guy with a mullet in Baghdad
2) Unnecessary backwards douche entrance
3) Fantasy rules dictate that the guy with floppy hair and a headband is super important
So yeah, this white dude is Sinbad. OK. He's recently back in Baghdad after finding himself shipwrecked and washed up on a distant rock with a brand new magical mystery bracelet. Seconds after we meet our hero, he attempts to steal a loaf of bread. Not to feed his starving family or anything noble, but because he's a world renowned pirate and loves to steal. Anyway, he gets easily caught by the bread vendor, so Sharia law or whatever dictates that he get his hand lopped off.
Sinbad diffuses the situation by blaming everything on an adorable dog. But then he presses his luck by trying to pull the old "Talking Dog For Sale" routine on some gullible rich fool who is shopping for an extravagant wedding gift. That plan predictably fails, but only once Sinbad badmouths the Prince's strict new laws and the gullible rich fool turns out to be the Grand Vizier, accompanied by the Prince himself!The Prince hits the scene and isn't pleased to hear his politics being questioned by some floppy haired rogue. I'm glad to see the Prince dresses like Prince. Purple Reign. Anyway, the Grand Vizier volunteers Sinbad for the traditional wedding beheading, leading to an EXTENDED STUNT CHASE.
So basically, Assassin's Creed is just a huge ripoff of The Adventures of Sinbad. Zen Gesner was doing parkour about a decade before it was cool. He Ezio'd the fuck out of that situation. I do like how instead of swan diving off a building into a pile of hay, Sinbad falls ass over teakettle right into a bed of whores. Unfortunately, the Prince's guards just barge into the whorehouse and catch him, and now they can add prostitution to Sinbad's wrap sheet. I wonder what they cut off for that? (Since it's the Middle East, probably the whore's head.)
Doubar then introduces Sinbad to his prison buddy, a weird combative little prick named... MUSTAPHA? Oh come on, The Adventures of Sinbad. Who was in charge of casting this show? Why are all the Arabic guys white?
Anyway, we jump to the Prince's wedding ceremony, where he and his Princess-to-be are being showered with riches along with the Grand Vizier and none other than the Caliph himself. Everything is moving along swimmingly, until this obviously evil dude and his foxy evil daughter make their entrance.
The guy wearing a castle on his head is the diabolical sorcerer Turok (Dinosaur Hunter). It seems he's pretty peeved with the royal family because he had hoped the Prince would pick Rumina - his aforementioned foxy daughter - to be his bride. The Prince retorts that he would rather "wed a cobra than share a bed with the daughter of a sorcerer," so Turok and Rumina just start straight up disintegrating fools.
Having had their fun, our villains decide to scram. But before they go, Turok gets in one last dick move as he summons a swarm of bad, original-Playstation-graphics-caliber CGI harpies to abduct the would-be Princess, then cackles about how evil he is.
As a final parting note Turok declares that if the Prince were a real man he would seek out his stronghold on the ISLAND OF TEARS!!! and come to his Princess's rescue. Turok and Rumina teleport out of dodge, and the Prince swears vengeance. However, the Caliph claims only one man in all of Baghdad is bad enough to take on Turok. A sailor. A legendary adventurer. A "young, swarthy" (!!??) fellow. Acrobatic type. Why - except for swarthy - that sounds like someone we know! Sinbad!
The very same Sinbad who is just about to have his head chopped off by a guy who bought his executioner gear at a Party City Halloween sale. Fortunately, Doubar and Mustapha stage a daring rescue in the nick of time, and the Caliph manages to talk the Prince into pardoning Sinbad before the execution comes to a head~!
To smooth things over, our heroes are granted an audience with the Caliph. Sinbad uses the opportunity to get political and diss the Caliph's trickle-down economics (seriously). Take that Reagan! After some convincing (and the promise of the finest ship in the land, plus riches), Sinbad agrees to escort the Prince to the ISLAND OF TEARS!!! and help him rescue the Princess. But first they have to fill out the crew.
First, Sinbad pays a visit to his comic relief inventor pal Firouz. Holy shit! This show pretty much is Assasin's Creed. Firouz demonstrates his crappy prototype flying machine and offers to outfit Sinbad's ship with a specialized catapult. Sinbad agrees to take him along, and then zaniness ensues as Firouz's Rube Goldberg Device doorbell launches a tomato into the Prince's face. Haw haw!
Next, Mushapha takes the gang to meet his actually brown! friend, Rongar. Unfortunately, the only brown character in the main cast has had his tongue cut out, so I guess he'll have to be our requisite strong silent type. And man, can he throw a knife! I love the irony of the little white guy with the inappropriate black power name being bros with this bad motherfucker.
They round out their numbers with a few nameless, faceless extras, and now that the crew is all assembled (minus one Action Girl with a falcon - more on her later!), it's time to hit the sea. Sinbad's back in his element, spouting nautical nonsense that sounds halfway legit and manning the wheel of a fancy new ship. Rather than head directly to the ISLAND OF TEARS!!!, Sinbad convinces the crew that the best plan of action would be to seek the counsel of his mentor Dim-Dim, the former Grand Vizier of Baghdad who was banished by the Prince and the only man whose magic is a match for Turok's.
The Prince is none too pleased, but he gets put in his place for like the sixth time in the episode. However, Dim-Dim's domain - the Isle of Dawn - is magical, and Sinbad has to trust his instincts to find it. But what harm could come of sailing around aimlessly in cursed waters while the villains spy on your every move?
FUCKIN SEA DRAGON! With the villains not content to simply spy on our heroes using black magic, Turok's dastardly daughter Rumina sacrifices a goldfish to summon this fucked up thing. Or maybe she was just evolving a Magikarp. It attacks, and thus ends the first half of the two-part premiere episode on one hell of a cliffhanger. Tune in next time for "Return of Sinbad, Part II."
To be continued... Here!