Saturday, January 14, 2017

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series - Shady Glen

Vampires vs. bugs and cannibals.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series writers' assistant and staff writer Sarah Wise earned her first "written by" credit on the series' season two finale 'Santa Sangre', and earned her second one on the episode that brings us to the midway point of season three, 'Shady Glen'. This episode was directed by The Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sánchez, who has contributed to every season of the show so far. During season one, he directed the episode 'Mistress', and for season two he was at the helm of 'In a Dark Time' and 'The Last Temptation of Richard Gecko'.

Season three of the series based on the 1996 Robert Rodriguez / Quentin Tarantino film From Dusk Till Dawn has been a "monster of the week" season so far, unleashing some kind of different hellish beast for our heroes to deal with and dispatch every episode, and with their episode Wise and Sánchez deliver a creature that at first seemed more suited to the Tremors TV show. In fact, when Xibalban Queen Amaru (Madison Davenport) and her sun god assistant Brasa (Maurice Compte) first unleashed a swarm of insects on the suburban community of Shady Glen, I was having flashbacks to the 'The Sounds of Silence' episode of Tremors, which centered on a mutant insect that was a combination of cicadas, termites, and maggots. And as Amaru and Brasa's insects filled the air, I wasn't impressed by the CGI used to bring them to the screen. It looked very goofy.

Thankfully, this episode isn't just about pest extermination. The insect infestation is a precursor to an outbreak of cannibalism that soon has the civilian residents of Shady Glen tearing out mouthfuls of each other's flesh.

Bugs, cannibals, and denizens of Hell aren't even all the threats our heroes - former bank robber Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona), his vampire brother Richie (Zane Holtz), Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia), and Richie's fellow vampires Scott Fuller (Brandon Soo Hoo), Ximena Vasconcelos (Emily Rios), and Sex Machine (Jake Busey) - have to contend with, either. Dakota Block (Nicky Whelan as a version of a character played by Marley Shelton in the Rodriguez / Tarantino movie Grindhouse) is also out to bring the Geckos to justice for murdering her father in the pilot episode of the series, and her mission drops her right into the middle of the Shady Glen mess. That's not good for her or the Geckos, but it is a break for the afflicted, since she's a doctor.

'Shady Glen' features bloodshed, fights, and crumbling alliances, but overall I didn't find this episode to be very entertaining or interesting. You might expect a halfway episode of a short season to get you excited for what's ahead, but this episode definitely did not meet that expectation for me.

I had a couple issues with the story and the storytelling as well. This episode confirmed my suspicions about Gonzalez and Ximena, and I am not enthusiastic about that relationship going in a romantic direction, especially when Gonzalez is married to a woman who is trying her best to keep their child safe, even if that means not having contact with him. He is very bitter about her safety measures, so he's going to hook up with a vampire.

There's also something that happens with Tom Savini's demon hunter character Burt that was handled in a very sloppy way. I hope a future episode will fill in the gaps, but the way things play out within 'Shady Glen' is not very good.

This episode didn't draw me in, but I have hope for the second half of the season being an action-packed, fun ride toward an awesome finale.

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