As a longtime fan of Robert Rodriguez, the news of a TV Show based in one of his best movies, which also happens to be my favorite vampire movie of all time, was received with 50 % suspicion and 50 % excitement. Being part of this recent trend of adapting horror classics to TV shows, [From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series](series:957663) have a strong back up, Rodriguez himself, who was planning to direct, produce and broadcast the show in his own brand new channel, El Rey network. But at the same time, the very idea of the show brings up an old question: Where are the new ideas?
The original movie, written by Quentin Tarantino, had the Gecko Brothers as protagonists, played by Tarantino himself and George Clooney; two criminals on the run after a bank rob. During their runaway, they’ve crossed paths with the Fuller family, played by Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu. With the promise of a crime thriller, most viewers got surprised with the vampire twist in the final act, which transformed From Dusk Till Dawn into a full blown slaughter fest. Memorable characters, the craziest situations possible, vampires and intense violence are some of the ingredients that made the movie so great; basically, the TV show had the perfect formula for success; it only needed to be properly applied.
When the first trailer came out, it became clear that they were going to use most of the classic characters, as Richie and Seth Gecko, the Fullers and even Santánico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek!). Jacob Fuller, previously played by Harvey Keitel, this time came to life through Robert Patrick, a familiar face for the fans of From Dusk Till Dawn, as Buck, the protagonist of Texas Blood Money, the second movie in the franchise, and to be honest, the only name with some weight in the cast.
If there were any doubts regarding the direction the show would take in relation to the original story, most of them were cleared in the Pilot Episode. At the very beginning, a character that is probably Santánico (Eiza González) is chased through the woods by some sort of Mayan warriors and a Shaman, who wanted to perform some dark rituals on her; there it is the ancient evil taking a seductive human form. It’s important to observe that this first supernatural element, involving snakes instead of bats, will be a very important element later.
The introduction of Seth and Richie Gecko is very similar to the movie; at a road stop, they meet the sheriff and they greet each other with bullets, an encounter that was the last event on a sequence of misfortunes which started with the brothers robbing a bank. Using flashbacks throughout the episode, which might be a characteristic of the series as a whole, Seth and Richie are presented as two very different individuals at a first sight, but underneath, both very inclined to violent behavior; Seth has a very strong relationship with violence, as he spent some time in jail, where he learned that survival of the fittest is more than just an expression; on the other hand, Richie was supposed to be the smart one, the brains of the team, but something went very wrong in his head while his brother was gone, and violence became a constant for him as well.
The Pilot only introduced the Gecko brothers though, focusing in their run towards the Mexican border and their relationship. Even though the two actors, D.J. Cotrona (Seth) and Zane Holtz (Richie) are not the best out there, and Cotrona had the challenge to replace George Clooney, they are convincing enough to make the start interesting. The other characters from the original movie, the Fuller family, only appeared on the second episode, also with good prospects.
The supernatural element aforementioned, related to snakes, led to an unexpected twist, one that must be seen rather than spoken and which is probably the biggest differential between TV show and movies. Most of it is related to Mayan Mythology, which is definitely a very unnusual but interesting take. I'll say only one thing in advance: Do not wait for the common Vampire here.
Whereas we can see Rodriguez’ style all over the place, one thing is undeniable: he is holding his hand so far. His action and horror styles are completely over the top, usually very graphic; just look at the insanely awesome Mariachi trilogy or the recent Machete franchise, or Planet Terror, they all have outstanding sequences of violence and gore, remarkable by the amount of craziness in it, but for some reason the tv show started very light on that aspect. As the show premiered at his own channel, is hard to imagine why he is being so contrived; probably he is aiming to larger audiences than his usual fan base, but at the same time there are some spikes of notably fantastic and intriguing sequences, such as Richie’s visions involving monsters, which could scare the less accustomed viewer.
From Dusk Till Dawn started a bit slow, especially to Rodriguez’s standards, however, it holds the potential to grow up to be something really great. Is the show a reflex of the lack of original ideas so common these days? Yes, it is. Does that means it must be a bad show? Not at all. As we like to say in Brazil, the producers of the show have the knife and the cheese at hand, or in other words, they have everything necessary to make the show as memorable as the movie, it is just lacking boldness and endeavor in this start. Luckily, a second season has already been confirmed, so the show will have time to work out those problems, and hopefully, it’s going to be worth the while.