TV review: 'Dusk 'Till Dawn' on El Rey

Monday, 10 March 2014 12:49 PM Written by 

DTD topNot many viewers will get a chance to see "From Dusk 'Till Dawn: The Series" (9 p.m. Tuesday) on newbie cable network El Rey, which is only available locally on DirecTV (Channel 341). And that's a shame.

El Rey, created by film director Robert Rodriguez and Univision, gets off to a strong start with a 10-episode scripted, original series on its air just a few months after launch. I can't recall another cable network that was so ambitious. A second scripted series is in the works for later this year.

I am by no means a Rodriguez afficianado. I never saw the 1996 film version of "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" that this series is based on; I think my only exposure to his work was the first "Spy Kids" film. But I really liked the first episode of "From Dusk 'Till Dawn: The Series" that was made available for review.

Read more after the jump. ...

FDTD jumpThe premiere begins with Indians chasing a woman through what appears to be a rainforest until she falls into a pit of snakes and one snake enters her mouth. What this has to do with what follows is unclear, so best to just ignore it for now.

So the story really begins when veteran Texas Ranger Earl (Don Johnson) and his young partner Freddie (Jesse Garcia) stumble into a bad scene at a roadside liquor store. Through flashbacks, viewers see how these two characters began their day, which then takes an ugly turn.

While the flashbacks deepen the characters, some elements are smack-you-in-the-head obvious. (When a character starts talking about time and how long until he retires, it's not a big leap to guess he won't live much longer.)

Still, the stylization of the story is impressive as is the way Rodriguez, who wrote and directed the premiere, introduces the robber characters, the more level-headed Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona) and his possibly crazy/possibly prescient brother, Richie (Zane Holtz, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"), who sees their two young, female hostages as terrorizing demons.

"From Dusk 'Till Dawn" is violent and it's not initially clear if viewers should be rooting for the Rangers or the robbers, who previously shot up a bank and killed several Rangers. But the characters are engaging, the humor winning in its darkness. There was enough to appreciate in the first episode that it made me eager to see more.

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