Review: From Dusk Till Dawn The Series Episode 1

When I first heard about  From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series show my initial question was… why?  From Dusk Till Dawn is a great film, one of the most enjoyable of the nineties. But the two sequels that followed failed to live up to those lofty standards (by a long way) and thus it was hard to see what a TV show could offer, especially one that seemed to star the Gecko Brothers once again.  After all one of them didn’t exactly leave the Titty Twister in one piece.    So… questions abounded.  And the first episode went at least someway to answering those, not least the direction of the 10 episode show.

From Dusk till Dawn: The Series is created by original director Robert Rodriguez, and is the showcase show on his new El Ray Network.   Rodriguez himself directed the first episode and is expected to helm at least 5 others across the run.  Starring Zane Holtz as Richie Gecko (originally played by the films writer Quentin Tarantino) and DJ Cotrona as Seth Gecko (Originally played by George Clooney), the show also features Don Johnson, Robert Patrick and Jake Busey.

Firstly let’s get this out of the way… this isn’t the disaster you’re probably expecting.  No if you want THAT series check out the European produced TV version of The Transporter.  Nope, From Dusk Till Dawn (at least the first episode) is well produced, well made and pretty slick for what is obviously a modestly budgeted TV show.   That said, if you’re a fan of the original film, it is also will prove to be a pretty pointless experience…

I guess the biggest question is, what is From Dusk till Dawn: The Series ?  Is it a prequel or is it a Sequel?  Well actually it’s neither.  Based on the events from the shows first episode (and a quick spin over the show’s Wiki entry) it looks like From Dusk till Dawn: The Series  will be a 10 episode retelling of the original film, taking in key events but expanding on the mythology and charecters.   Episode one then is set almost in it’s entirety (save for a few flashbacks) in Benny’s World Of Liquor and, for the most part, retreads the events of the pre-title sequence of the movie, with a few subtle additions and twists.  For a fraction of the budget and with a fraction of the gore and harsh language.   Think From Dusk till Dawn reborn as a PG13.

So as events play out and as the rather familiar episode drew to a rather familiar close,  I (like most viewers I expect  when this airs in the US on Monday evening and in the UK on Netflix 24 hours later) was left scratching my head as to whether I would be tuning in for episode number two.   Because whilst the show IS well produced, does have a few nice bloody moments and doesn’t feel like a poor mans knock off TV show (see Transporter, Robocop The TV show and many others), it offers nothing that I hadn’t  seen before in a far superior film, with a far superior cast and with far superior blood and gore.

It just felt a bit… pointless.

Now maybe as the show rolls on it will expand the film’s mythology and events but still, its events and mythology that for the most part we’ve seen before.   And knowing that each story beat is already mapped out, from a film I’ve seen probably twenty times or more kind of takes the drama away.

Away from the story, the cast are a bit of a mixed bag.  Whilst Holtz’s Richie Gecko is a vast improvement on Tarrantino’s somewhat wooden approach, DJ Cotrona has the unenviable position of follow what is still one of Clooney’s most Iconic roles.  Needless to say when he get’s around to the “Everybody be cool…” line you can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for him.  He’s trying his best and he’s not bad.  But he’s also not George Clooney.  The screen is lifted (naturally) when Don Johnson is about.  But you’d expect that, wouldn’t you…

So overall then this ended up being a bit of a strange experience.   It’s not a bad episode and certainly has potential to build on.   The cast are fine and Rodriguez brings his trademark flare to proceedings to lift it from a run of the mill TV show.

BUT if you’ve seen From Dusk Till Dawn the film, this is probably an experience that won’t do much for you…. then again If you haven’t seen the film  then I’d probably recommend watching that instead as, I expect,  it will prove to be a much tighter plotted, much quicker moving and in the end  no doubt will prove to be much more fun experience.

From Dusk till Dawn: The Series debuets on the El Ray Network on Tuesday 11th March 2014.  It will air on Netflix in the UK and Europe the following day.

Rating: 3/5

GS Reviewer: Phil Hobden

 

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