The Adventures of Sinbad

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Name: The Adventures of Sinbad'
Abbreviation(s): AOS
Creator: Ed Naha, Sandy Gunter
Date(s): Season One - September 8, 1996 - May 24, 1997
Season Two - October 4, 1997 - May 23, 1998
Medium: Television
Country of Origin: Canada
External Links: The Adventures of Sinbad on Wikipedia
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The Adventures of Sinbad is a Canadian action/adventure fantasy television series loosely based on the fictional Sinbad the Sailor from the One Thousand and One Nights. Created by Ed Naha, the show aired from 1996 to 1998, with two seasons and forty-four episodes.

Like its contemporaries Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, the series was set in a fictional version of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin inhabited by gods, demons, monsters, and magicians from a wide range of cultures and traditions.

Due to the show's generic title, it is frequently mistaken for unrelated Sinbad media, including Sinbad (2012 BBC Series), Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and the anime Sinbad no Bokuen (Adventures of Sinbad). On the Archive of Our Own, fanworks for this series are tagged as The Adventures of Sinbad (Canada TV) to avoid confusion.

In the years immediately following the series' run, it was popularly abbreviated as "AOS". This has also led to confusion with the later and unrelated Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which shares the same abbreviation.

Canon

Synopsis

Season one opens with the legendary Sinbad the sailor (Zen Gesner) returning to Baghdad after two years' away, remembering nothing of that time period after washing up on a beach after being lost at sea, wearing a mysterious rainbow bracelet. Sinbad is reunited with his older brother Doubar (George Buza) and quickly acquires a new ship, the Nomad, along with a new crew, including old friend and inventor Firouz (Tim Progosh), the African warrior Rongar (Oris Erhuero), and Maeve (Jacqueline Collen), apprentice magician to Sinbad's old mentor Dim-Dim (Wayne Robson), who shares a mysterious bond with her hawk, Dermott. When Dim-Dim is cast into another dimension by the machinations of the evil sorcerer Turok (Juan Chiorian), Sinbad and Maeve must work to overcome their differences to find their beloved teacher. In between their other adventures the crew must cope with the frequent machinations of Turok's daughter Rumina (Julianne Morris), who is attracted to Sinbad, yet seeks to destroy him. Scratch the Devil (Tony Caprari) is another recurring antagonist; he and Rumina join forces against the crew in the season finale.

Following the abrupt departure of Jacqueline Collen after the conclusion of the first season, season two introduced a new female lead, Bryn (Mariah Shirley) after Maeve is washed overboard in a storm, and the plot moved away from previously established storylines. Like Sinbad, Bryn suffers from amnesia about her past connected to the mysterious rainbow bracelet she carries. Bryn has access to magical powers she does not fully understand, and quickly bonds with Dermott in Maeve's absence.

Comparison of the two seasons

Most episodes in both seasons are linked but independent one-shots, with the crew exploring a new place and meeting new characters, only to sail away with relatively little changed by the end. Although the plot of many episodes was often based on preexisting mythology and legends, historical accuracy was rarely a concern in scenery, setting, or Firouz's many inventions. Over the course of the show's run, the crew encountered Vikings, samurai, aliens, zombies, and Greek gods, as well ghosts, harpies, and giant animals on a regular basis. Many recurring monsters, such as the rock colossus and the skeleton warriors, are a direct homage to the stop-motion special effects of Ray Harryhausen in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963).

However, the two seasons varied wildly in tone and content. In contrast to the lighter, more comedic tone of the first season, the second season was darker and edgier, with more violence and a drastically different look and attitude for Sinbad. In addition, many plot threads and other elements from the first season were dropped, including Dermott's origins, and the characters of Rumina or Turok.

The cancelled third season

A third season was planned (see Beyond Outline), but never filmed due to misgivings from new studio executives[1]. It was intended to occupy a middle ground between the first two seasons, incorporating both the intense action of the second season with the characters and humor of the first.[2]. The series was officially cancelled by Pearson Entertainment on April 1, 1998.[3]

Creator Ed Naha expressed his admiration for fan enthusiasm for the series, and encouraged them to continue dreaming big:

I grew up watching the old Sinbad movies and I wanted to pass the magic, the wonder, the sense of "spirit" onto you. And I did. And you were there for me.

And, if I never get to do another "Sinbad," maybe one of you, ten, twenty years from now, will figure..."Gee, I saw this TV show, once, a long time ago. I liked it. Maybe I can do something NEW with it."

And so it goes,

Magic continues. It's all around us. It's in the birth of a baby and the growth of a flower. You will make it flow.

bestest to you, now and forever,

ed [4]

Popular Character Tropes and Fanon

Main Cast

  • Sinbad
  • Doubar
  • Firouz
  • Rongar
  • Maeve
  • Dermott
  • Rumina
  • Turok
  • Dim-Dim
  • Scratch
  • Bryn

Minor Characters

Prince Casib (Rob Dunne) of Baghdad is a spoiled royal who initially clashes with Sinbad upon his return to the city, having confiscated Sinbad's house and possessions and ordering Sinbad's execution. After his betrothed Princess Adeenah is kidnapped by Rumina and Turok in the pilot episode, Casib undergoes a change of heart and sails with Sinbad and his crew to rescue her. Thanks to Sinbad's efforts, the couple is reunited at the end of the second episode. Both Casib and Adeenah regularly appear in fanworks set in Baghdad, along with Casib's father, the elderly Caliph of Baghdad.

Tetsu (Von Flores) is a ronin, or masterless samurai from Nippon (Japan). Although he and Sinbad are originally set against one another in a duel to the death, Tetsu undergoes a change of heart after a private meeting with Sinbad, who is familiar with the customs of his homeland. Struck by Sinbad's empathy and the mysterious rainbow bracelet both carry, Tetsu fakes his own death to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a sailor. Tetsu is one of the few minor characters to appear in multiple episodes in the canon series, and frequently appears in fanworks as a Sixth Ranger].

Eyolf (Bret Hart) is a Viking warrior. He and his companions attempt to sacrifice Maeve to a demon to appease him to release their ship. He becomes the leader of his band following their battle against the demon. Eyolf offers his hat to Maeve, and extends an invitation to the crew to come and visit them in the north. Although this offer was never followed up by the show, many fanworks used it. Although Maeve/Eyolf shippers existed, Eyolf primarily served as an opportunity for Maeve to make Sinbad jealous.

Caiprais a skilled practitioner of magic living in the city of Basra, which the show envisions as a haven for practitioners of the art. She is later revealed to be Dim-Dim's wife, in some sort of long-distance relationship. In fanworks, Caipra is often Maeve's teacher and mentor, offering advice and wisdom to the crew when they are befuddled by Rumina, Scratch, or other magical obstacles.

Omar of Basra is the leader of Basra, known as the "Savage Sultan" for his temper and fierceness in war. In canon, it is mentioned that he and the Caliph of Baghdad have feuded, which fanworks often elaborate on. When the crew is in Basra, they stay at his palace.

Talia, "the Black Rose of Oman," is a pirate queen and former lover of Sinbad's. Although Sinbad no longer returns her feelings, she is often used as foil for Maeve, and a source of jealous misunderstandings.

Sinbad's mother Mala died when Sinbad was a child, and continues protecting him against Scratch even after her death, unbeknownst to Sinbad. She frequently appears in fanworks, either alive in prequels and flashbacks, or as a ghost striving to protect Sinbad from Scratch's machinations.

Fan Reactions

Appeal of the show to fans

The show's kitchen-sink approach and low-budget visuals were frequently cited as a feature, as in the tag line for the FYeahAdventuresOfSinbad Tumblr:

It had pirates. It had ninjas. It had Vikings. It had terrible CGI. It had pure, undiluted, 90s camp, and we love it. [5]
meganbmoore: This series will make you regret ever requesting good acting of your TV shows. No, seriously, you will watch this and go "Why is everyone so big on good acting? It is so overrated! Who wants good acting when you can have THIS? Who needs good accents when Jacqueline Collen's Irish accent is coming and going as she sets off to seduce the magic sword from the bad guy with absolute glee? How can you complain about scenery chewing villains with Julianne Morris devouring everything in sight with a smirk? One can never complain about corny dialogue if one has watched Zen Gesner deliver awful cliches with a completely straight face! And how can you complain about bad FX after magic fire gives a guy furry gloves that turn people into stone!"[6]

The sex appeal of the show's cast was a draw for many fans, with the actors playing Sinbad, Maeve, Rongar, and Bryn frequently cited as examples. However, much of the audience during its television run were children, who enjoyed the action-adventure aspects as well as the drama and romance. For young female fans, the character of Maeve was particularly inspirational:

once-in-a-blue-moon: I don’t think I will ever love another TV show like I loved this one. I think I’ve just realised that it may have actually subconsciously shaped my entire life. I spent most of my childhood trying to turn myself into Maeve. Now that I look back on it, I haven’t done too badly at that. I just need a hawk and I’m pretty much there. [7]

Fan archivist Liz summed up the show's appeal for many in an introduction to her site:

The best part of the show was the chemistry between the characters and the humor. Although most of the dialog and special effects were cheesy, that was just part of it's charm. The relationship between Sinbad and Maeve was also a huge draw for us and for many other fans of the show at the time it was on. Something about this series just really inspired us - we learned how to create a web site so we could have one for the show, we wrote a lot of fan-fiction, made a ton of fan-art and montages, and the first autograph request I ever wrote was to Zen Gesner. Looking back, I'm not sure what it was about the show, but it just struck a chord with me and I also made a lot of great friends on the AoS forums and had a lot of fun chatting about the show and sharing fan-fictions with them.[8]

Save Our Sinbad Campaign

Following the announcement there would be no third season, fans began a campaign to save the show, either through a two-hour movie or a renewed third season inspired by successful actions in the Star Trek fandom. Dubbed "Save Our Sinbad" (SOSinbad), it was primarily a letter-writing campaign aimed at the TV network executives advocating for a return of Sinbad[9]. The campaign also advocated for a larger AOS presence at conventions, and more interactions within the fandom, and several petitions[10][11] were circulated.

Lady Wynter summed up many fans' feelings about the cancellation in a poignant essay:

She walks along the deserted beach. The ocean wind blows through her hair and sweeps little strands into her face. The day is dark and overcast, dreary...the ocean waves roar, still raging from the sudden storm that swept through the area, much like the storm that was raging in her heart. She hears birds crying overhead and lifts her head to look. She sees a lone hawk flying in the air. It seems to be searching for something. Then suddenly, it is joined by others.

They all circle, crying their greetings. She smiles a little as she watches them sail throughout the air, carefree and strong in their little band. A small band of 7. And suddenly, the smile disappears as the pain in her heart renews with a vengence. 7...the number brings back a wave of memories...of good and true friends, sailing the seven seas, standing by each other through both good times and bad. 7 Wonderful people....

Taken separately, the 7 of them were wonderful. But together, they had been so special...so very special. They had shared a bond of friendship most people only dreamed of having. And adventures...so many adventures. With magicians, gorgons, gryphons and demons...They had shared heartaches and triumphs, weathered storms both natural and unnatural, laughter and tears.

And now...they were gone. All of them...gone. No more will the Nomad sail the seven seas, her Captain at the tiller. No more will Sinbad be there to offer hope where none exists. Faith where it has died, goodness where evil dwells. No more...

And finally, the tears start. And she grieves...for dreams left unfulfilled. For lives cut short before their time..for the loss of those she has come to know and love beyond imagining. A deep despair fills her soul as she wonders how she will go on without them. And wonders who will remember them. Who will still be here to carry on their lost dreams. Who will remain to tell others about their adventures. In 6 months, a year, will those who remember now still remember? Still care? Or has Scratch finally won?

... A small light of hope begins to burn within. Maybe, if she cares, there must be others who care, who feel the same as her. Who feel the same hurt, anger. If they all worked together, kept the dream alive, maybe, maybe the Nomad and her crew would return. WILL return. She would make this happen, had to MAKE IT happen. She stands on the water's edge and makes a solemn vow. A vow similar to the one she heard Sinbad make to Bryn. She promised she would do everything that could be done. And she hopes, with all her heart, that others like her are making the same vow, the same promise. They will not forget, will not give up the fight.

She turns to leave when something catches her attention. For a long moment, she stares intently out across the ocean. Then she slowly turns away and begins to walk inland. A small smile plays across her lips, and a sense of peace settles in her heart.

For in the last rays of sunlight, before the sun sets below the waves, she thinks...no, she KNOWS that she saw the billowing sails and proud profile of the Nomad, sailing across the distant horizon. And she knows, she believes with all her heart, that the Nomad will again, someday, sail.[12]

Torra_K included this parody of "Message in a Bottle" by The Police:

Just a castaway

an island lost at sea another lonely day no-one here by me more loneliness then any man could bear rescue me before I fall into despair

I'll send an AoS to the world I'll send an AoS to the world I hope that someone gets my I hope that someone gets my I hope that someone gets my

E-mail in a bottle [13]

Despite fan efforts, the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.

Impact of canon shifts on fanworks

The abrupt shift between season one and season two, as well as the series' ultimate cancellation, resulted in a large number of fanworks from disappointed fans in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many fanfic authors chose to ignore the second season entirely, while others chose to incorporate some or all of its elements into their works. Maeve's absence and/or return was a popular subject, with many fanworks focusing on a romantic resolution between her and Sinbad, often with Sinbad's discovery of a child conceived before Maeve's disappearance. The mystery of the rainbow bracelets, Bryn's heritage, Maeve's tutelage under Dim-Dim's wife Caipra, the restoration of Dermott to human form, and the defeat of Rumina were also frequent story elements.

Virtual seasons were also common, with many different collections posted on Internet fansites. As with shorter fanfics, there were varying responses to canon. Some, like The New Adventures of Sinbad Fan Fiction Season 2, ignored the events of the canon second season in favor of their own interpretations. Others, such as The Adventures of Sinbad Fan Fiction Seasons picked up where the series left off, incorporating many elements of Ed Naha's Beyond Outline for the third season.

AOS Fandom on the Internet

AOS fandom activity primarily took place on the Internet. Many fansites were created using free hosts such as GeoCities, and were taken offline following the site's shutdown in 2009, and are now only visible through the Wayback Machine. Sites were frequently connected via webrings.

While AOS fanart was relatively uncommon, fanvids were popular.

Fan Discussion and Controversies

First vs. second season

Shipping

Despite the small number of major female characters, the most popular pairings for the series were heterosexual, with slash rare or non-existent in most fanworks. Maeve/Sinbad was the most common romantic pairing, followed by Bryn/Sinbad and Rumina/Sinbad. Fanfics with both Maeve and Bryn usually paired Bryn with another member of the Nomad's crew--usually Doubar, but occasionally Firouz[14] or even Dermott in human form[15].

Crack pairings for Sinbad were with various guest stars, especially the samurai warrior Tetsu [16], [17].

While certain sites favored one pairing over others, true ship wars were rare.

Historical Accuracy

Whitewashing, Racism, and Stereotypes

A common critique of the show was the large number of white actors for a show with ostensibly Middle Eastern characters. Many background characters are dressed in a manner evoking "Oriental" or "exotic" stereotypes, with many female background extras appearing scantily clad or with bared midriffs.

The show's treatment of its one black character also raised eyebrows:

meganbmoore: Rongar has fewer lines than Dermott, who at least squawks. This is because Rongar has no tongue.This was explained to us by a character who basically lived long enough to tell us why we'd never hear a peep out of the black man who is so ripped that arrows literally bounce off his chest. (Literally. I kid you not.) Sometimes, Rongar plays music and thinks longingly of starring in a series that does not fail so majestically in such an offhanded manner.[18]

External Links

Resources

Meta

Adventures of Sinbad on TV Tropes

Archives

AOS on Fanfiction.net

AOS on the Archive Of Our Own

The Sinbad Pack - host of The Great Library of Adventures of Sinbad Fan Fiction and The New Fan Fiction Adventures of Sinbad

Great 2K's World of Adventures of Sinbad - archive for fanfiction and fanvids

Liz and Jen's AOS Site - host of The New Adventures of Sinbad Fan Fiction Season 2

Forums and Message Boards

Distant Lands - Forum for AOS fans including several fan-run RPGs.

Fansites

Ms. Rumina's Wonderful World of Sinbad

References