Of course I'm only learning about this show two years after it aired and one year after the BBC canceled it (after only one season).
Estella Daniels absolutely shines as Nala, an African noblewoman who finds herself aboard Sinbad's ship and a member of his oddball crew. What thrills me about her casting and characterization is that she's the "Princess" character of the show - she's the beauty, the nobility, and has the kick-ass wardrobe. She's also the love interest of the titular hero, Sinbad.
Or rather...she was.
For reasons I absolutely cannot fathom (sarcastic voice), the aristocratic Nala was written out of the show by the seventh episode, and by episode nine, a white female character takes her place.
Then again...maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that the show got canceled. After all, interest gradually declined and ratings dropped, and I bet you it had something to do with the abrupt removal of Nala.
*shrugs* Who knows.
...For me, Nala and her arc in the series represent both the show's unique strengths and the way it could stumble a little with them. In episode four (The Old Man and the Sea), she's tempted to fulfil an agreement her people made in which Death (played by Timothy Spall) spared them in exchange for her hand in marriage. Nala, however, comes to realize that the spectre of her father that Death offers as a pending resurrection is hollow. It's the first episode that the beautiful and smart noblewoman really lets her guard down.*rubs temples*
It seems so simple to appreciate Nala on the show's terms, but typical casting might have had her played by someone who looks more like Rena’s Marama Corlett. When a siren is feeding off of Sinbad's good memories in episode six, his defining memory of Nala is one of her vitality being unaffected by the scorching Basra heat - which makes it all the more pity that when Sinbad breaks free of the amulet's curse, Nala's character decides to leave the ship and held rebuild a broken Basra. The goodbye kiss they share takes Sinbad by surprise, but it also seems like it was a kiss he'd been waiting for.
I don't know why Nala was written out of the show by its seventh episode, but the traits of replacement Tiger (played by Tuppence Middleton and making her first appearance in episode nine) speak to the possibility that the show's creators at least partly wanted a more action-oriented love interest for Sinbad. For all of her qualities (her bounty hunting skills and savvy do leave a favourable and strong first impression), Tiger as a character is also a bit more typical to the genre than her predecessor. Both Nala and Tiger could have been better served in the long run by storylines that saw their respective strengths tested and improved upon. In this regard, it seems like the show's creators had a more fully fleshed out sense of the rest of the Providence crew-members. (Source)
Thank goodness we still have so much pretty to enjoy.