×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: El Rey’s ‘Matador’

With:
Gabriel Luna, Alfred Molina, Nicky Whelan, Neil Hopkins  

Being pragmatic about it, you can’t blame the producers of espionage series “Matador” for trading the stodgy old tennis circuit in “I Spy” for a growth sport like soccer – especially (and opportunistically) coming out of World Cup mania. But this latest original offering from Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network comes in so wide of its gooooal of approximating an old-fashioned spy yarn as to practically border on parody. Gabriel Luna plays a DEA agent who is drafted to go undercover as a professional soccer player, but the resulting pilot is about as exciting as its opening slow-motion chase. More marketable than watchable, “Matador” is worth sidestepping.

Luna’s Tony “Matador” Bravo is introduced in the midst of a sting operation, in which he runs down a suspect (never mind the bad guy’s awful German accent) despite having consumed several tequila shots. This catches the attention of the CIA (don’t ask), which enlists him to try out for the L.A. Riot, a pro soccer team, hoping to get a foothold (heh heh) in bringing down the team’s corrupt billionaire owner, Andres Galan (Alfred Molina, deserving of better).

Bravo’s handlers, naturally, include an icy blond (Nicky Whelan) who cleans up really well and a smart-talking skeptic (Neil Hopkins), with the former saying things like, “You’re not here to shoot guns. You’re here to shoot goals.” Alas, that gives way to a practice sequence set to music, which is something of a relief if only because there’s no dialogue.

The show’s quartet of creators includes the prolific Roberto Orci (“Sleepy Hollow”), and Rodriguez directed the pilot. Those auspices notwithstanding, the show plays like a slapdash effort, conceived less by creative spark than as the product of focus-group testing, with a dash of nostalgia thrown in.

In a very pay-cable-like move, El Rey has already extended a vote of confidence in the show by ordering a second season. Thus far, though, the network has failed to impress with original offerings like its “From Dusk Till Dawn” reboot, exhibiting less of the renegade image the channel claims to serve than an appetite for trotting out retreads in new packages.

It’s early, of course, but like Tony at tryouts, there are only so many chances to make a good impression. And with something that misses the mark like “Matador,” the network isn’t putting its best foot forward – or looking particularly ready for the big leagues.

TV Review: El Rey's 'Matador'

(Series; El Rey Network, Tues. July 15, 9 p.m.)

Production: Produced by K/O Paper Products, Rodriguez Intl. Pictures, FactoryMade Ventures and Distilled Fiction.

Crew: Executive producers, Roberto Orci, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie, Heather Kadin, Robert Rodriguez, John Fogelman, Cristina Patwa, Alex Kurtzman; supervising producer, Steve Lichtman; producer, Jill Danton; director, Rodriguez; writers, Dworkin, Beattie, Roberto Orci; story, Roberto Orci, Andrew Orci, Dworkin, Beattie; camera, Joseph E. Gallagher; production designer, Anthony Medina; editor, Adam Wolfe; music, Juan Carlos Rodriguez; casting, Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham. 60 MIN.  

Cast: Gabriel Luna, Alfred Molina, Nicky Whelan, Neil Hopkins  

More TV

  • TV Roundup: Pop TV Releases Teaser

    TV News Roundup: Pop TV Releases Teaser for 'Schitt's Creek's' Final Season

    In today’s TV news roundup, Pop TV releases a teaser for the final season of “Schitt’s Creek,” and Nickelodeon kicks off the holiday season with “Top Elf.” DATES Nickelodeon’s “Top Elf” series will premiere Nov. 29. “Top Elf” is a new competition series featuring guest judges Frankie Grande, Amirah Kassem, Peyton List, Alex Wassabi and [...]

  • Karen Cogan’s 'Fled' Tops The Brit

    Karen Cogan’s 'Fled' Tops The Brit List, a League Table of Unproduced British TV Scripts

    Karen Cogan’s “Fled” has come top of The Brit List, a league table of unproduced scripts from British writing talent, this year devoted to television projects. The list, similar to The Black List in the U.S., was compiled from recommendations by British production companies, talent agencies, financiers and broadcasters. Cogan, represented by Independent Talent Group, [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets HR and Inclusion Chiefs

    ViacomCBS has named corporate heads of HR and inclusion as the companies prepare for the merger that is set to close early next month. The soon-to-combine Viacom and CBS have tapped Nielsen alum Nancy Phillips to serve as exec VP and chief people officer. Viacom alum Marva Smalls will serve as global head of inclusion, [...]

  • Cedric the Entertainer

    Cedric the Entertainer to Produce Multi-Cam Comedy in Development at CBS

    “The Neighborhood” star Cedric the Entertainer is set to executive produce an untitled multi-camera project in the works at CBS, Variety has learned. The series follows two young women who, after repeatedly being turned down by investors, hatch an outrageous plan to raise capital for their new sports app. According to sources, the project had been [...]

  • HBO Max logo

    HBO Max Developing CIA Interns Comedy 'Classified' (EXCLUSIVE)

    There are plenty of tough places to be an intern, but the CIA must be near the top of the list. HBO Max is developing a comedy series which tackles just how hard that might be, Variety has learned exclusively. The forthcoming WarnerMedia streamer, which is set to launch May 2020, has set a script development [...]

  • Sony Pictures Studio Culver City

    Sony Pictures Entertainment Buys AT&T's Stake in Game Show Network

    Sony Pictures Entertainment has bought out AT&T’s minority interest in Game Show Network for about $500 million. The deal makes Sony the sole owner of GSN. AT&T had owned 42% of the company, which the telco giant inherited with its purchase of DirecTV in 2015. AT&T has been on a mission this year to pay [...]

  • WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY

    The First BravoCon Provides an Outlet for Obsession (Column)

    Were you one of the thousands flipping tables for not managing to snatch up tickets to the first ever BravoCon? Did you find yourself refreshing your Twitter and Instagram feeds incessantly for updates on who said what to whom and where over the weekend? Are you wondering if you should try harder to get in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content