You could say that I am a fan of Robert Rodriguez, besides the Spy Kids series, Once Upon A Time In Mexico and the awful Machete Kills. Well, for those fans of his that haven’t heard the news, Rodriguez has launched his own television network entitled the El Rey Network. NBCUniversal, based out of a commitment by Comcast, needed to carry more minority-owned networks, and they figured that El Rey could target young English-speaking Latinos. Thankfully that isn’t Rodriguez’s only target audience, because it seems like this channel was built from the ground up to cater towards our audience here at Morbidly Amusing.
According to the El Rey home page, this is how they describe their channel, “It’s a white-knuckled suicide leap into a chum bucket filled with the sex, gore, and fist-pumping action that’ll have you screaming.” So basically any show or movie that caters towards sex and violence are welcome. So far, the El Rey Network’s schedule includes movies like Reservoir Dogs, El Mariachi and The Street Fighter Trilogy. The syndicated TV shows included are re-runs of Starsky & Hutch, Dark Angel and The X-Files. With El Rey you are getting tons of genre and cult programming, all of which are most likely things that have influenced or have been made by Robert Rodriguez.
The success, however, of television networks usually revolves around their ability to create original programming and because of the fact that Robert Rodriguez runs the station, he has the ability to reach into his extensive film library and turn one of them into a series. Of course he picked the 1996 cult classic vampire film, From Dusk Till Dawn, and that led to the 10-episode From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series that premiered on Tuesday at 9 PM. The first thing that you need to know is that this series isn’t a sequel to the original, but is in fact a remake that expands upon the material, scenes and characters seen in the 1996 film. Think of the movie as the short story and the television show as the novel.
So, the big question is whether From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series lives up to the pedigree of the original film, and whether or not the show is any good. The good news is that this show is spiritually very much like the original film, although I found it hard to figure out how this show is going to turn out because, honestly, not enough has happened. Seth and Richie Gecko, the parts that were originally portrayed by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, are introduced as they enter Benny’s World Of Liquor, which was also the way that the original film opened up. The Gecko Brothers, played in the series by D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz, are very much the same characters that you have grown to love, despite the fact that they are raging psychopaths.
One way that the TV show differentiates itself away from the movie is the inclusion of law enforcement, which gives a very different perspective and take on the actions of the Gecko Brothers. Don Johnson, a very likable actor, plays a part in the Pilot episode as Sheriff Earl McGrath who is the mentor of Deputy Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia), a brand new character who looks to be the hero of the series. There is a lot of potential in the cat and mouse relationship that it looks like Freddie Gonzalez will have with the Gecko Brothers. Another character that looks like they were added to the series is crime lord Don Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama), who was briefly mentioned in the movie but never shown. The ability to expand upon elements only touched upon in the film definitely adds a lot to the series and is one of the reasons why fans of the movie will want to tune in.
While the Pilot episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series was well-made, which was both written and directed by Rodriguez himself, there wasn’t enough of a variation to the source material that I could really review. The best part of the episode was the introduction and inclusion of Deputy Ranger Freddie Gonzalez who looks like the moral center of the show, something a series like this needs to consistently make you want to tune in. And genre favorite Robert Patrick has yet to make his first appearance, as the father of the kidnapped family that also appeared in the movie. Also, I heard that Rodriguez was planning on adding Aztec and Mayan mythology into the entire vampire mythos, which could definitely be interesting.
Personally, I really hope that the El Rey Network is successful and I encourage everybody that enjoys cult or genre cinema to check it out. But in the end I believe that this station will live or die with the success or failure of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. So far its off to a good, but not great start, although I think that this show has limitless potential. Check it out for yourselves and see.