From Dusk Till Dawn: Pilot Review

We see hints of the old and the new as From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series begins. Here's John's review...

This From Dusk Till Dawn review contains spoilers.

Robert Rodriguez, one half of the satanic duo that originally graced us with From Dusk Till Dawn, has taken his new network to bet back to his roots and bring us back to our childhoods (and who wouldn’t be psyched) with From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Made for the El Rey network in the U.S. and Latin America, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is available as a Netflix Original Series elsewhere. 

Before the opening credits even roll on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, the images start to build with hints of what’s to come: A young girl flung into a snake pit by three men in outfits and body paint reminiscent of old mayan or aztec warriors (and some interesting special effects as the snakes take hold of the poor girl, by the way), and a familiar face (Don Johnson) as a U.S. Texas Ranger stopping by a local liquor store to grab a bottle of hooch and take a quick bathroom break…the only one for miles right before he’s shot in the back for asking one too many questions for someone’s liking. 

Backing up in time a bit, we get to know our two Rangers a bit more. Ranger Earl McGraw (Johnson) gives us his views on the necessity of knowing how time flies (tempus fugit) even if depressing his partner (Jesse Garcia) a little bit in the process. The radio tells us they’re after a pair of brothers, the Gecko brothers, who robbed a bank, killed several Rangers and kidnapped a woman. Cue our favorite wanted men.

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The brothers are happily familiar, in attitude, in swagger, and even in general mental health, if not the same faces. Richie (Zane Holtz) is just as crazy as we remember, with flashes of the hallucinations that swap and mirror truth and lies in his mind as he tries to interact with people around him… and we can guess he’s off his meds. Seth (D.J. Cotrona) is just as much of a calming influence on Richie as …well, as much as was ever possible, really. Both brothers are younger, in their twenties, which begged the questions: is this a prequel to the first movie? A reboot of the entire From Dusk Till Dawn universe? Will the series stick with canon or will it deviate? With Rodriguez driving, we have good reason to hope that if anything it might expand our understanding of the mythos instead of radically changing it…right?

So, I know I’ll get yelled at by you guys for saying it, but I think they chose well for Seth. No, he’s not George Clooney (who is, really?) but the swagger, the no nonsense “just let me do my thing and get the hell out of here” attitude is dead on, and shots like the one above are reminiscent of Clooney in ways that made my geek DuskTillDawn-loving heart smile. 

As they’re trapped in the liquor store, they call their friend Carlos for some escape route help. Carlos doesn’t really seem concerned about their safety (shocker, right?). Strange as it seems, Carlos not only promises help get them out but asks Seth to trust Richie. TRUST RICHIE?!? “He sees things others don’t.” is Carlos’ only explantion.

The show goes back and forth in time, giving us backstory on our Rangers and their relationship, and then returning to the present fit-hitting-shan-ness where we left off. Carlos soon calls back and tells them they’re out of luck on a ride, but they can meet him. Before they can leave our Ranger friends and them have an all-out shootout and Richie gets shot in the hand. Ranger friends down, Richie and Seth start making their way towards Mexico, to a bar near the border. Sounds awfully familiar…

So, first impressions…

Starting from right before the original movie’s storyline gives them the time to get us used to the new faces of the Gecko brothers, and to give us the backstory that the film didn’t have time to do anything more than hint at. Seth being both fully aware of and also not quite used to Richie’s episodes easily captures that he’s been away a while. When it comes to Richie, these extended looks into his hallucinations will no doubt give us some ammunition later if Carlos turns out to be right. Besides, who doesn’t like sneak peeks into how characters think? 

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As for the rest, my curiosity abounds. Will they make the first season be a mirror of the original movie? Will we continue to follow the Gecko brothers past that as well? Will we see a Winnebago with a Harvey Keitel-esque preacher and his kids on vacation? 

I plan to find out. Do you?

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4 out of 5