While the El Rey network’s small screen take on From Dusk Till Dawn came and went without much noise from anyone outside the genre community, their second original series looks like a solid sophomore effort. The undercover cop thriller Matador, not to be confused with Richard Shepard’s film, released its first full-length trailer, along with a poster, and there’s definite appeal in what this fast-paced actioner has to offer. Even if part of it happens to be hoping a character’s arc is trying to measure the circumference of Alfred Molina’s beard.
This is the kind of bing-bang-boom trailer that gives editors nightmares in the weeks following its completion. It steadily builds up for the first minute and then just unloads a flurry of compelling rapid-fire images taking us into this storyline, which was created by Star Trek rebooter Roberto Orci, Andrew Orci (Static, and writing partners Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie, who produced and wrote for shows like Revenge and The Event. The combined resumes of all these guys reveals a love for high-concept, somewhat melodramatic secret-filled dramas. Some worked, and some didn’t, but I have a good feeling about this one.
Matador follows Tony “Matador” Bravo (Gabriel Luna), a very popular soccer star for the L.A. Riot who, like many famed athletes before him, enjoys off-field mingling with pretty ladies and other more dangerous people. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Matador is actually working for a small branch of the CIA in an extremely deep cover, as his sports ties put him in contact with people higher up the criminal chain. Of course, the double life leads to double the problems, and the risks this mission involves can’t be solved by making new fans.
The trailer plays up Matador’s entry into the mission, which pits him with handlers Noah Peacott (Neil Hopkins) and Annie Mason (Nicky Whelan). Luna is suave and charismatic enough to lead this dark tale, in which he attempts to take down an unlikely bad guy. Something tells me he plays by his own rules, too, and doesn’t get any yellow flags for it. There are probably more soccer references to make, but I’m out already.
The first episode was directed by TV vet Nick Copus (Arrow) and El Rey co-head honcho Robert Rodriguez (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For). There’s a good tone here that feels light and flexible despite the heavy risks involved, kind of like a really stellar episode of an otherwise average USA series. I look forward to seeing Luna kick some ass, though I hope they don’t overdo it with the “CIA cam.”
Defend your goal from your couch when Matador hits El Rey for a 13-episode season on Tuesday, July 15.