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March 20, 2014

Mini-review: From Dusk Till Dawn 1x1 (El Rey/Netflix)

Posted on March 20, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

From Dusk Till Dawn

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm, El Rey
In the UK: Available on Netflix. New episode released each week

Robert Rodriguez is best known as being a pal of Quentin Tarantino. His first big success was a Tarantino-scripted flick, From Dusk Till Dawn, which saw Tarantino and George Clooney play two brothers who rob a bank then head off to a strip joint that just happens to be run by sexy Latina vampire Salma Hayek. As a piece of grindhouse, it was fine and clearly benefited from Tarantino's ear for dialogue. But it wasn't exactly a classic.

Rodriguez went on to greater success with the Spy Kids movies, but he's produced more grindhouse over the years. Bizarrely, he's just launched his own TV network, El Rey, which is an English-language channel targeted at Latinos. The flagship drama he's using to launch the network? A TV-length adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, starring almost no one you've heard of and written by Rodriguez rather than Tarantino.

Hmm.

Okay, not strictly true. Don Johnson appears in the first episode and although this isn't a spoiler if you've seen the movie, gets killed before the end of it (although, you know, vampires). And Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The Unit, The X-Files, The Last Resort) takes over Harvey Keitel's role as a vicar vampire-hunter in later episodes. 

However, largely, this is just a slower, duller, much, much cheaper version of the movie, played out over an entire series. It's not terrible and there are attempts to emulate Tarantino's style; the two leads (DJ Cotrona from Windfall and Zane Holtz from nothing much at all) do just fine as more generic versions of Clooney and Tarantino, the cool one and the psycho-crazy one respectively; the action is okay, if not especially thrilling; it's not got a great attitude towards women, but it's no that much worse than many other shows I could name on that score; and there are promises to flesh out the vampires' Mayan backstory. 

But, you know, they killed Don Johnson. Why bother watching after that?

Here's a trailer:

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March 20, 2014

News: Netflix reunites Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, NBC renews 3 shows, Doug Liman's Splinter Cell + more

Posted on March 20, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Ooh look – a new category!

Film

  • Doug Liman to direct Splinter Cell with Tom Hardy

Internet TV

UK TV

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

  • Sharon Gless to co-star in ABC’s Saint Francis
  • Desmond Harrington to play Alan Shepard in ABC’s Astronaut Wives Club
  • Victor Garber and Sonya Walger join Starz’s Power
  • Maggie Q to star in CBS’s Kevin Williamson drama pilot
  • Leslie Odom Jr joins NBC’s State of Affairs, Rebecca Corry joins NBC’s One Big Happy
  • Sara Chase, Lauren Adams join NBC’s Tooken, Debra Monk joins NBC’s Feed Me

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March 5, 2014

Mini-review: Those Who Kill 1x1 (A&E)

Posted on March 5, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Chloe Sevigny on A&E's Those Who Kill

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, A&E

There’s a lot of debate about the purpose of international remakes, particularly in the age of the internet, BBC4 and streaming services that allow you to watch the originals even before the remakes air.

I think there’s a point when

  1. It’s a good show
  2. Not many people will have seen it
  3. You do something good with it

So, for example, there was a point to Showtime’s remake of Prisoners of War/Hatufilm, Homeland, which told a different story from the original, which being on Israeli TV hardly anyone had seen; there was also a point to The Tunnel, Sky Atlantic/Canal+’s remake of Denmark/Sweden's Bron/Broen, since it tied up the narrative considerably and gave it far more local colour and humour, even if the female lead character was nowhere near as good.

I will tell you what there’s is absolutely no point to, though: it’s A&E’s Those Who Kill, which fails on all three counts. Firstly, the original Danish show, Den Som Dræber, which aired on ITV3 in the UK and is available on Netflix in the US, was rubbish - a terrible attempt to make a US serial killer and crime show that treated women terribly and was unremarkable in every way, beyond featuring Lars Mikkelsen.

Neither of those would have been insurmountable issues, had the writers and producers actually done something good with it. But they haven’t. It’s almost exactly the same.

In it, Chloe Sevigny, who was so good in Sky Atlantic’s Hit and Miss but is utterly ignorable in this thanks to having to play a thankless, by the numbers, blank cipher of a rookie detective, goes through exactly the same motions as her Danish predecessor, assisted/hindered by dodgy university professor/potential serial killer James D’Arcy. The big change, if you can call it that, is that while Lars Mikkelsen’s character was a surprisingly supportive and emotive boss, James Morrison's (Space: Above and Beyond, 24) is a surprisingly supportive and growling boss.

It’s clearly got a much bigger budget than the original, has Glen Morgan (Space: Above and Beyond, The X-Files) writing and producing, and Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team, The Blacklist) directs the pilot at least. But it adds nothing to something that was incredibly derivative and cliched in the first place.

This is rubbish in any language. I don’t need to review it because I’ve reviewed it already and I don’t need to watch any more of it because I’ve watched it already.

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