From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Review: Judging the Premiere in the TV.com Court of Television
Since the scales of Lady Justice balanced their first load, our legal system has protected the innocent and punished the guilty with 100 percent accuracy. The wisdom of the courts is the one certain thing we puny humans can depend on in this uncertain, big blue marble called "Earth." Why not, then, apply the rules of law to televised entertainment? Why not look at the evidence—ALL the evidence—and decide where a new show stands in the annals of entertainment? Why not judge From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series in...
Side note: TV journalists are not allowed inside the Court of Television, but we were able to obtain the following transcript through a private source:
Judge: Please be seated. We will now hear opening statements. Prosecution, please rise.
Prosecutor: Thank you, Your Honor. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is nothing more than a rehashing of a story we’ve all heard a thousand times before. Vampires attacking unsuspecting heroes? Sure, it was fun when TARANTINO came along for the ride. But this cast of characters was merely created by the Oscar-winning auteur, and it's being trotted out now to capitalize on a trend. This show is a copy, with no more definition than the vision of an old woman suffering from astigmatism, trying to see underwater without goggles. Ladies and gentlemen of the TV Jury, this show deserves the chair, and the prosecution will not rest until justice is done. Thank you.
Judge: Strong words. Let’s hope you have the evidence to back it up. But all sides shall be heard in the Court of Television. Defendant, please rise.
Defendant: Your Honor, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a fresh new take on the beloved vampire genre. Its source material is a proven cult classic and this extended version will only allow viewers to spend more time in Robert Rodriguez’s sultry, terrifying, and fun world. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a necessary contribution to the television landscape and worth enjoying. As you’ll see, the following evidence CLEARLY proves that From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is a cool piece of TV that successfully achieves what it aims to accomplish.
Judge: Ooh, sounds like we got a juicy case on our hands. Prosecution now has the floor.
Prosecutor: Seriously Your Honor, thanks. Just... thanks. I’m a woman of few words and I know the jury’s time is precious. So, I’ll make this quick—
[Clicks open a briefcase, produces an envelope marked "TV EVIDENCE."]
Prosecutor: The dialogue from the premiere was nothing special. Need we multiple metaphors for using the bathroom? Delivered by esteemed actor Don Johnson no less? And a character talking at length about Jolt Cola? Lines like "I’d rather change the channel than listen to your little soap opera" feel very stagey. Verbal cleverness gets used in excess here, and it shows—
Defendant: Objection, Your Honor!
Judge: On what grounds, lawyer?
Defendant: The jury has no context.
Judge: Good point actually. Sustained. Please, defendant, fill us in on the story.
Defendant: Thank you, Your Honor.
Defendant: The story of this first episode was commendable. On the side of the good guys, we have Sheriff Earl McGraw (Don Johnson) and Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia). They have a fun rapport. Freddie was trying to get Earl to baptize his new baby. Earl was reluctant. The two stopped at a convenience store so Earl could urinate, and wouldn’t you know it, there were some criminals also hiding out there. They go by the name of the Gecko brothers. First names Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz). The latter had killed people during a bank robbery. Now before all this went down, there was a foreboding scene where an Aztec girl was tossed into a snake pit. And believe me, it was cool. Engaging. Overtones of something real scary coming. Part of that turned out to be Earl getting shot by Richie. Right through the heart. The rest of the episode was a standoff that led to the clerk (Lane Garrison) also being shot to death, some customers held hostage, and Earl dying on the store floor. Throughout the whole ordeal, Richie had some monster visions, and believe you me, they were frightening.
Prosecutor: Your Honor, the defendant is overstepping her legal bounds.
Judge: I'll be the judge of that. Get it? Because I'm a—oh, never mind. Prosecution now has the floor.
Prosecutor: Yes, everything described about the plot is true. But the following key elements have been omitted...
Proscecutor: The performances were totally uneven. Sometimes they were great, sure, but just as often, the line delivery among some of the actors could be quite stiff. Johnson’s lived-in Earl (who, might I add, had the best monologue of anyone and got killed off by the end of the hour) made Holtz's Richie and Cotrona's Seth feel meek, even though they were the ones doing the shooting. Even Garcia could stand to breathe a little more life into Gonzalez. But who knows, maybe this is the fault of an overly wordy, and ultimately confining script. Which brings me to my next point...
Prosecutor: Most of this first episode took place in a single, small location. While this made sense, story-wise, the effect of the adventure being restricted to an area of a few square meters (albeit except for flashbacks and a few cutaways) was one of frustration. As viewers, we wanted to get going on this journey, but couldn’t because of what was essentially a "bottle episode"—something that's hard to pull off even in an already familiar universe. The whole affair felt too small to get excited about. That is all, Your honor.
Judge: Defense, you may now offer a rebuttal.
Defendant: Wow prosecution, tell us how you really feel.
[Light laughter in the courtroom.]
Defendant: Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the TV Jury, the setting here was so much larger than the purported "few square meters" alleged by the prosecutor...
Defendant: Everything was curated. The liquor store wasn’t just any liquor store—it looked like an Old West saloon. While it's true that the action in the first episode was confined to one location, the excursions to places like Earl’s wholesomely carpeted home, or the headquarters of Carlos (Wilmer Valderrama) all featured details that were clearly chosen with care. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series exists in a whole universe that Rodriguez has put on display, large in its specificity. It has boundless potential. And, might I add, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. With that, I’ll make my final point...
Defendant: The melodrama of a dying mentor, the trope of criminals in suits with muscle cars, and the idea of centuries-old monsters committing telepathic harassment all seem a little over-the-top. But that’s what this show is. It is an action movie going overboard on purpose. It is something for the fans. It is a relishing in campiness. Which is not to say, "Hey, turn off your brain," but rather, "We’re going a little cartoonish for the sake of including cool stuff." In that, I think the TV Jury will agree that From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series has heartily succeeded.
Judge: I just got word that another case needs this courtroom, so I’m going to skip over closing arguments and let the jury get to work.
[The jury deliberates for over seven hours. Finally, its member emerge.]
TV Jury Member: We the TV Jury, find the premiere of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series highly enjoyable. We do not request that this show gets the chair.
[Prosecution throws its hands up in exasperation; the defense's loved ones hug and touch foreheads.]
Judge: Order! Order! I am now ready to deliver my sentence. Old or new, the goal of any television show is to entertain. That entertainment can take many forms, it can be intellectual, it can be emotional, it can be romantic, it can be purely visceral. No one formula is correct or true. As such, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series deserves its place in the growing prevalence of niche entertainment. It does what it needs to do, and plays by its own rules. While clunky at times, every program deserves a chance to find its way. I sentence From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series to viewership with the understanding it will make an attempt to get better as the series progresses.
[Bangs the Official TV Gavel]
Judge: Case dismissed!
Welp, justice has been served in the Court of Television. But what is YOUR ruling on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Seres' series premiere? Will you be back for Episode 2?
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