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Review: Matador 1x1 (El Rey)

Posted on July 21, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

El Rey's Matador

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm ET/PT, El Rey

There is something of a stereotype in the US that there’s only three groups of people who play what the rest of the world calls football/le football/Fußball/ποδόσφαιρο/etc but which America calls soccer:

  1. Children, particularly girls
  2. Immigrants
  3. Latinos

'Real men', on the other hand, play what the US calls football, but the rest of the world calls American football.

Now, the World Cup this year, at which the US did surprisingly well, might have helped to start the slow process of neutralising this stereotype. But film director Robert Rodriguez made his career playing with Latin stereotypes in films such as El Mariarchi and From Dusk Till Dawn and with grindhouse homages such as Sin City, Machete and, erm, Grindhouse. Given that Rodriguez now has his own English-language, Latin-interest, pro-grindhouse TV network, El Rey, it’s no big surprise therefore that his second scripted drama, which follows hot on the heels of the TV adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, should capitalise on that stereotype.

Matador is a partial grindhouse homage about an undercover DEA agent (Gabriel Luna) who gets recruited by the CIA when they spot he’s not only quite good at undercover work, he can also run very quickly. Luna’s task? To somehow infiltrate LA’s professional football team, run by Alfred Molina, to uncover a global conspiracy.

Plausible, no?

By turns Chuck-like then Escape From Athena ridiculous, Matador is unfortunately only moderately exciting and, it has to be said, is full of immigrants. Brits and Australians. There’s just loads of them.

Here’s a trailer.

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Quite literally the stupidest bit of product placement ever

Posted on July 21, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

So product placement is a big thing in US TV. In an age when ratings are dropping, Internet viewing is increasing, people skim through shows on PVR, foreign sales are a big source of revenue and boxsets are binged aplenty, the chances that anyone will even get the chance to see an ad you’ve bought during an ad break, let alone watch it, are getting smaller and smaller every day. On the other hand, stick one of your products in the show and no matter which medium the viewer uses to watch the show, wherever they are in the world, they will see that product in action at 1x speed.

Obviously, you have to spend more to get that product into the show, and such is the cash required, it’s often been able to keep afloat shows such as Chuck and Heroes that would have died sooner if they’d relied purely on ad break funding. There’s competition with other advertisers, too, since there’s only so many cars that can be driven or Subway sandwiches eaten per episode.

So spare a thought for TNT’s The Last Ship, which appears to have had the novel idea of piggybacking two product placements on top of each other. Unfortunately, I don’t think Apple are going to be very happy with them for doing that.

Here, we have a perfectly humble webcam being shown off to punters. It’s the end of the world, the captain of The Last Ship is recording possibly the most vital messages possible for his family – he’s going to want good HD quality recordings. And the webcam glows all blue, which is cool!

Last Ship's webcam

I must buy this webcam!

Except… it turns out that he’s using a MacBook Air to make his recording.

MacBook Air in The Last Ship

Cool laptop that. Problem is that the MacBook Air has a built-in HD webcam. In fact, it’s right underneath that other webcam the captain’s using.

MacBook Air webcam

So either the captain’s a technological idiot or his lovely MacBook has broken at a vital moment in world history. Not the message Apple wants to be sending out with The Last Ship.

I will not buy this MacBook Air.

Particularly since it’s very, very expensive.

Disclaimer: this post was in no way sponsored by anyone, particularly Apple or any webcam manufacturers. Of course, if they want to, I’m not going to say no…

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Question of the week: have you ever abandoned TV shows during the final seasons?

Posted on July 1, 2013 | comments | Bookmark and Share


Dexter has been going on for seven seasons and has just started on its eighth. Now I loved the first season – it was great. The second season was excellent, too, after a faltering start. Then came the Jimmy Smits season and the first sense that maybe the show was losing its edge. Season four gave us John Lithgow as Trinity, which was a much more promising affair.

All seemed to be good.

But then along came season five, with Julia Stiles as an abuse victim who turned the tables on her abusers with Dexter's help. Despite the presence of Stiles, Chris Vance and Jonny Lee Miller, it was very Mamite-y: you either loved it or hated it. I loved it… right up until the end of the season, which had possibly the stupidest ending imaginable.

After that, things just got ridiculous, with Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks as the Big Bads of season six, with a twist you probably saw coming, but even if you didn't, you wondered how Dexter got so stupid the rest of the time. And then Debs decided she fancied Dexter. Ugh.

Then last year gave us season seven, the stupidest of them all, which despite a good start, gave us Dexter shagging one of his victims while she was still on his 'table', all the while Debs was trying to wean Dexter off this murdering thing. Before murdering someone herself.

So Dexter's eighth season started last night. I hear it had some good elements. Yet despite having watched seven seasons already, I find myself not wanting to watch it. At all. I just can't see, short of Dexter being killed or stuck in prison, how they could make it interesting enough and smart enough again for me to want to watch it. Not even Charlotte Rampling can do that.

Now this isn't the first time I've bailed on a show at the last moment, as a result of a show's increasingly insipid nature. I gave up on Chuck for much the same reason. So this week's question is:

Have you ever given up on a long-running TV show just as it's hit its final season? If so, why?

As always, leave your answers below or on your own blog.

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