Friday, July 31, 2015

'Matador' makes a stylish, glitzy debut on El Rey channel

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Gabriel Luna plays Tony Bravo , a CIA operative infiltrating Los Angeles´ professional soccer team as a star player. El Rey Network
Gabriel Luna plays Tony Bravo , a CIA operative infiltrating Los Angeles' professional soccer team as a star player. El Rey Network

Gabriel Luna may be the only actor in prime time who has to rehearse his corner kicks.

The premise of his abundantly entertaining new series, Matador, is that he is a CIA operative infiltrating Los Angeles' professional soccer team as a star player.

On-field action alternates with espionage subterfuge as he tries to get next to the team's telecom-billionaire owner (Alfred Molina).

All right, so the timing's a bit off. The show should have debuted a month ago to take advantage of World Cup fever. But Matador has enough razzle-dazzle to make you forget Lionel Messi.

The 13-episode series from Roberto Orci (Sleepy Hollow) is appearing on El Rey, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's new English-language, action-oriented cable outlet (Channel 341 on DirecTV). Rodriguez (Sin City) directed the punchy pilot.

Luna's family life (his parents are played by Julio Oscar Mechoso and Elizabeth Pena) and his athletic endeavors are both nicely handled. But it's the over-the-top spy exploits, with Nicky Whelan as Luna's CIA handler, that give the show its fizzy energy.

Glitzy, spoofy, and bristling with attitude, Matador is the modern equivalent of I Spy, the classic '60s series about a pro tennis player/secret agent, starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.

 


TV REVIEW

Matador

Tuesday at 9 p.m. on El Rey


dhiltbrand@phillynews.com 215-854-4875 @daveondemand_tv

Inquirer TV Critic
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