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Syfy to premiere 'Sinbad,' 'Primeval: New World' tonight

by By DAVID WIEGAND San Francisco Chronicle on June 08, 2013 10:30 AM

Don’t get too attached to the new Syfy series premiering today: “Sinbad” (9 p.m.) and “Primeval: New World” (10 p.m.) are imports and they each lasted a single season before getting the ax in the U.K.

That’s actually too bad because “Sinbad” is uncomplicated and unpretentious fun. In fact, it reminds me of the kind of entertaining silliness the Halmis — Robert Sr. and Jr. — used to concoct every year for sweeps month, but with much more sophisticated special effects.

Elliot Knight makes an attractive and believable Sinbad in the series pilot, which takes the young hero from a street brawl that ends in the death of the emir’s nephew to being cursed to spend his life at sea by his grandmother (the luminous Janet Suzman, of “Nicholas and Alexandra” fame) and a properly scary shipwreck complete with water monsters.

The cast includes Naveen Andrews as Lord Akbari, the emir’s vengeful brother; Gunnar (El’iot Cowan), a Norse trader; Nala (Estella Daniels), a wealthy African woman; Anwar (Dimitri Leonidas), the ship’s seasick doctor; Rina (Marama Corlett), a stowaway; and the ship’s cook (Junix Inocian). Future episodes will feature Dougray Scott, Sophie Okonedo and Timothy Spall.

You may want to watch “Sinbad,” record it and immediately watch it again, thereby avoiding altogether the evening’s other new offering, “Primeval: New World,” a stupefyingly boring and unintentionally funny dinosaur saga.

The show is a Canadian-British co-production, which alone supports even the most outlandish argument for dissolution of the British Commonwealth.

It was created by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and is a spin-off of the British series “Primeval.”

The plot follows a bunch of dinosaurs who escape into modern times through some kind of worm hole that looks like a cartoon tornado struck a pile of paper. Believe it or not ... well, that’s a silly thing to say; of course, you won’t believe it, but when the first dinosaur victims turn up, the authorities suspect bears. More and more victims turn up and despite the fact that raptors seem to be prancing everywhere and pterodactyls are swooping through the city like pigeons, it takes a while before humans figure out that the dinosaurs are among them.

The characters are forgettable and interchangeable, and the dialogue is ridiculous. At one point, one of the main characters seeks out a long-secret government office set up to track aliens and other weird things. The occupant is some guy who keeps his lunch in a briefcase with secret instructions. To reassure his visitor that his office can help, he delivers an oration of singular silliness: “Look, I know what you’re probably thinking, that you’ve reached the bottom of your particular barrel, if the powers that be shoved you this far down the rabbit hole. You’re likely out of options, so think of me as the light at the end of your tunnel, the last port in your personal storm of hopelessness and despair.”

Don’t just block that metaphor — stomp its guts out and throw it in a wood chipper.

OK, so the speech is possibly meant as humorous hyperbole, but the rest of the dialogue is so bad, it doesn’t stand out as such.

For the record, the cast includes Sara Canning, Niall Matter, Miranda Frigon, Danny Rahim and Crystal Lowe.

“Primeval: New World” was also scrapped after one season, but that was one season too many.

This thing is so bad, it makes Syfy’s goofy piranha-gator-shark movies seem like they were made by Terrence Malick.

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