TV Review: ‘From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series’

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series

No one can blame Robert Rodriguez for turning to his own filmography to help launch his El Rey Network, and there’s no denying the name recognition offered by “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” derived from the 1996 movie that previously spawned a couple of cheap direct-to-DVD knockoffs. The problem is the movie’s mashup of two genres — noir-ish crime and monster gore — worked precisely because it was so compact and silly, whereas the results of stretching it out to 10-plus episodes, as Rodriguez and company have done, can’t help but seem pompous and flabby. And unlike the movie’s notorious bar, viewers won’t need to fight their way to an exit.

Unlike many past attempts to create a new mythology around a franchise name (the syndicated “Friday the 13th: The Series” comes to mind), Rodriguez, who wrote and directed the premiere, appears content to simply take every part of the movie and expand it. So the murderous brothers originally played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino — now D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz, respectively — are in the midst of their crime spree and trying to make it down to Mexico, while the latter experiences eerie visions offering some foreshadowing of what’s to come.

Don Johnson also turns up, briefly, as a Texas Ranger on their tail along with his young partner (Jesse Garcia), who will inherit the task of following the outlaws across the border. Robert Patrick assumes the Harvey Keitel role of the former pastor they kidnap — and he isn’t even in the premiere, offering some clue as to what a protracted journey this threatens to be before they get to the vampire bar where all hell eventually breaks loose.

While the press notes say the more expansive format will allow the series to deepen the tone and explore “the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club,” this is “From Dusk Till Dawn,” for heaven’s sake, not “Gone With the Wind.” If people want to learn something, they’re probably better off watching PBS.

Like any startup, part of the battle for something like El Rey is just getting noticed, and the title (being distributed internationally via Netflix) has accomplished that.

After the plodding premiere, though, all I could think was wake me around the time they get to the snake dance. And maybe not even for that.

TV Review: 'From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series'

(Series; El Rey Network, Tue. March 11, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Texas by Sugarcane Entertainment, Rodriguez International Pictures and FactoryMade Ventures and distributed by Miramax.

Crew

Executive producers, Robert Rodriguez, Carlos Coto, Cristina Patwa, John Fogelman; co-executive producer, Diego Gutierrez; producers, Mark McNair, Nigel Sinclair; writer-director, Rodriguez; based on the film directed by Rodriguez, written by Quentin Tarantino, story by Robert Kurtzman; camera, Eduardo Enrique Mayen; production designers, Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddleblute; editor, Ian Silverstein; music, Carl Thiel; casting, Mary Vernieu, Michelle Wade Byrd. 60 MIN.

Cast

D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Jesse Garcia, Eiza Gonzalez, Wilmer Valderrama, Adrianne Palicki, Jake Busey, Don Johnson, Madison Davenport, Robert Patrick, Brandon Soo Hoo

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  1. Mack says:

    Thank you Variety for calling it like it is. This show is nothing more than a padded version of a silly movie trying to be stylish. Some of the worst dialogue (what kind of weird speech was the ranger giving just before the last shootout) coupled with some strange character actions ( the 2 terrified female hostages suddenly taking on the psycho brother and then defying still-armed more reasonable one). This is bollocks.

  2. So do you skip to the middle of all the movies you watch? When the new Arrested Development premiered on Netflix did you start with ep 7? It’s a show, we have to get to know these characters, motivations etc and being a show they have more time to develop it.

    “Rodriguez, appears content to simply take every part of the movie and expand it.” This is an assumption on your part. Even if this is true, so what? The characters in the film were just archetypes anyways, so what if we are getting to know them better? Personally I can’t wait to learn more about those biker/bounty hunter miscreants in the bar.

    This may shock you but not everyone on the planet went to see the movie, including a generation of eighteen year old kids who may be seeing this for the first time. This review reads like you just took 20 minutes from your lunch break to pound it out.

    • I agree 100%. The few reviews I’ve read were all like this, stuff like, “BOR-ING! Who wants to see this movie stretched out over ten episodes?” with a really snotty tone to them. Who wants to see the movie expanded? Uh, how about REALLY devoted fans of the movie who never get sick of watching it? I had a blast seeing it in the theater and just as much fun every time I re-watch. Glad to know there’s others out there who thinks the reviews are not only being too hard on the series, but impatient as well!

  3. aw come on….give R & R, a break! Yea, I thought the epileptic fit of the guy with the glasses a bit, hmm, a bit…..well, dumb! But, hey, these psychic imagery has to lead us into the depths of the pyramid. I mean, the guy is starting a network with kill them all classics like “Reservoir Dogs”! Criminy, make room for Rodriguez, he may bring in the Kid Spies as back-up.

  4. Shirley says:

    Man its E I Z A not Elza. Thats it

  5. Bob Hammer says:

    Don Johnson eh…I thought it was him in a kinda sorta way. Poor Don looks like he’s already been in the snake pit. Overall I enjoyed the first episode and am looking forward to the remaining nine. El Rey, if it wants to stay alive needs to expand it’s programming after This series is completed; I “think” I read somewhere that there is a few more original programming in line for El Rey; Those Cheba movies are not what I or my friends would watch. Hope they succeed so that HD is in their future; I got tired of watching the Dusk to Dawn on a tiny picture set well within my screen. Yes I liked D 2 D the series.

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