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Watching stuff: "Matador"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 15, 2014

If you find it amusing that a major sports team in Los Angeles would be named The Riot, then you may find still more amusement in "Matador," a pulpy crime-and-soccer series premiering at 9 tonight on the El Rey network.

"Matador" is one of two soccer-themed series premiering this week on networks focusing on the Latino audience; the other is "Los Jets," an earnest reality show about a Southern high-school soccer team, which begins at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Nuvo TV. I may have more to say about it later; I have been fighting some kind of cold or allergy attack for a couple of days, hence my sporadic posting (and viewing).

There is no suggestion of reality in "Matador." It stars Gabriel Luna as Tony Bravo, an undercover DEA agent whose skills have led to his being recruited by another agency to help infiltrate the operation of a billionaire (Alfred Molina) who may be up to some dirty business. Bravo's point of entry is the billionaire's soccer team, the Riot. If he can get through tryouts, he may earn an invitation to the big man's house -- and can get some crucial information. But Bravo makes a bigger impression on the team than expected (and earns the nickname Matador), and his undercover adventure continues.

That's the central thread; around it are wrapped details of Bravo's family life, and the various principals and players connected to the Riot. Some of it is reasonably entertaining, once you accept that it's an action show that does not worry much about plausibility. At the same time, it more than once shows its budgetary limitations,  the acting is pretty basic, and it's not clear how it is going to balance the dynamics of the soccer team with the skullduggery. Still, I would watch a second episode.


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