At a time when broadcasters are under review for not supporting Australian Kids TV, you’d think a network would want to promote the hell out of a $12.5m animated drama, created by one of this country’s leading animation companies, before it goes to air.
Network Ten doesn’t seem to think so when it comes to Sherazade: The Untold Stories.
Your kids will probably have missed it, because it was sandwiched between two old episodes of Mako: Island of Secrets on Channel 11 at 10am on Sunday, 17 September – though they might catch it on Tenplay.
The new animated drama is loosely based on the book 1001 Nights – better known as The Arabian Nights – with it’s magical collection of characters like Ali Baba, Aladdin and Sinbad.
Those who read the original will recall Scheherazade married Shahryar to stop the ongoing slaughter of his wives.
Each night she tells stories she doesn’t have time to finish and her execution is postponed for 1001 nights so he can hear the ending – until he finally accepts her as his wife.
In this wonderful series, Scherherazade is now Sherazade – who’s similarly bright and smart. But she’s now a 12-year-old best friend to 12-year-old Karim who has been anointed Sultan of the Golden City upon the death of his much-loved, wise father.
Karim’s podgy, rather nasty and mean older brother, Shazaman, is very unhappy he has been overlooked to become sultan. With his friend, the witch-like sorceress Dunyazad, they turn Karim into a blue hairy monster and Shazaman becomes Sultan.
Karim and Sherazade go on the run to find an antidote to the potion Dunyazad used. Along the way they bump into some of the amazing characters from the original books, who help in their search.
This is a modern, fast moving, engaging epic tale; a very rare thing in commercial television. And it’s a clever updating of a classic, which should be part of the literary lives of all young Australians.
There are wizards, flying carpets, musical moments, cute and funny genies and each episode is full of action.
It’s produced by Melbourne’s Chocolate Liberation Front – creators of the highly successful The Adventures of Figaro Pho for ABC Kids. They worked in conjunction with Germany’s Han Film, broadcaster ARD/RBB and Toonz Animation in India.
There are 26 episodes. They took almost five years to complete, with a team of 400 people from around the world.
It’s a mammoth series – funded partly by taxpayer dollars from Film Victoria and Screen South Australia.
The kids will find it if they are regular watchers of 11, because it has been promoted there, as Network Ten pointed out when questioned by The New Daily.
But, while there are a gazillion promos for Sophie Monk and Bachelorette, Australian Survivor etc on Ten’s main site there’s nothing for this show.
Worse still, at the time of writing (before the show aired), there’s nothing on Tenplay Kids. Not a single promo or reference.
So, if you’re browsing for good TV for 10-13 year olds, make the effort to find this series. It’s a cracker and a milestone for children’s television in Australia.