Robert Rodriguez was a name that was gaining recognition with his independent film El Mariachi and it's sequel, Desperado; both films were a bolt of energy that the movie landscape desperately needed. These movies looked and felt different than anything else at the time and you could feel the excitement over this newly discovered talent. Now, thanks to a fortuitous relationship with Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez is a household name after delivering one of the most fun and original vampire movies in a very long time. From Dusk till Dawn is so amusing, that it has it's own documentary covering the making of the film; Full Tilt Boogie.
From Dusk Till Dawn is an absolute blast with dark humor, great effects and a 100% perfectly cast ensemble. Clearly, my obvious adoration of this film meant only one thing when I heard that it was being made into a television show.
How can this story be drawn out into a season's worth of episodes and remain entertaining? Will it go beyond Seth and Kate making it out of the Titty Twister? Who can possibly even dream of trying to fill Salma Hayek's fierce snake dancing shoes?
Well, the answers to these questions are not as black and white as one would think. If you love From Dusk Till Dawn, the movie, then you probably love the series, Not necessarily all of the time, though. If you weren't particularly impressed by the film then, don't watch this show. From Dusk Till Dawn, the series, boils down to a really lengthy version of the film and that is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Starring D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko and Zane Holtz as Richie Gecko, these two men certainly had some big shoes to fill and mostly did a good job. At times, Cotrona almost seems as though he's doing an impression of George Clooney and that becomes distracting. You know how Christian Slater felt a bit too much like Jack Nicholson in Heathers? Yeah, like that. Some moments it really pays off and others....not so much. In fact, a lot of Seth's backstory feels like a rip off of the fantastic Steven Soderbergh film Out of Sight. So, really, Cotrona is doing an impression of George Clooney in From Dusk till Dawn and Out of Sight; he only gets away with it because he's almost as equally handsome as Mr. Clooney. Ultimately, as the show progresses, Cotrona ends up owning Seth Gecko rather than George Clooney owning him.
Holtz definitely improved upon Tarantino's performance, but that's not exactly an amazing feat. Quite frankly, I didn't care for Holtz until he stopped being Richie from the movie and became Richie from the show. These are two different characters and it's a bit hard to believe that someone as seemingly crazy as movie version Richie Gecko would turn into television version Richie Gecko; the man who anchors the entire storyline and is everyone's savior. The transition between the two Richie's is a wee bit clunky, but once you accept it, everything flows a lot better.
In order to make a 1hour, 48 minute movie into ten hour long episodes, a lot of history has been added to explain the vampires who inhabit the Titty Twister, where they came from and what their ultimate goal is. This also interweaves Richie's backstory and how he plays into all of this "ancient reptile God stuff". A richer history of Jacob Fuller, a fantastic Robert Patrick, and a "what the what" story for a certain iconic character in the Titty Twister, plays in as well.
The series has added a Texas Ranger (Jesse Garcia) who relentlessly pursues the Gecko brothers and also becomes entangled in the gigantic mess that Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama) and Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza Gonzalez) have created in order to serve their own selfish needs. Valderrama is clearly having a great time playing Santanico's right hand man who will stop at nothing to bring the Gecko brothers to the Titty Twister for nefarious reasons all at the behest of his beloved Santanico. The additional characters are all wonderful and at no point do they ever feel tacked on or not fully fleshed out. The series' ability to turn a movie into an engaging 10 episode season is actually pretty impressive. This was not something that was just thrown together in order to have a tentpole for the new El Ray network; this is a lovingly thought out project. The biggest downfall of the series is the inevitable comparison to the film. It's not until the series gets past the events at the Titty Twister, that it really comes into it's own and all of the characters feel genuine and all of the story threads really start coming together.
Robert Rodriguez seems to be one of those directors that you either "get" or you don't. His movies all have a very distinct look and feel to them. Just like Rob Zombie, for every fan there is an adamant detractor and that is what will, ultimately, affect your feelings towards this show. I would follow Seth Gecko and El Mariachi to the ends of the earth just because it would be a fantastic time full of action, violence and kick ass music, so, I really enjoyed my time with this show. It could certainly be improved upon, but it's downfalls are forgivable. On the other side of that, if you don't care for Sin City, Planet Terror, Machete, or Once Upon A Time In Mexico, chances are good that you don't care for From Dusk Till Dawn;The Series.
Oh and you know who can fill Salma Hayek's shoes? Eiza Gonzalez.