Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Scott D. Pierce: He plays soccer, he’s a spy. ‘Matador’ is nuts

By Scott D. Pierce

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jul 12 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jul 14 2014 08:47 am

Matador" is bat guano crazy.

The premise of this new series (Tuesday, 7, 8 and 10 p.m., El Rey) is laughable. A guy named Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna) is … well, let’s let executive producer/co-creator Robert Orci ("Star Trek," "Transformers," "Sleepy Hollow") describe the idea "that was kicking around for years" and finally found fertile ground with Robert Rodriguez and his fledgling El Rey channel.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Suddenly, it was a natural thing for me to say, ‘What about this idea? Soccer player by day, spy by night?’" said Orci.

It’s insane. But "Matador" is also a lot of fun if you suspend disbelief. A lot.

Soccer fans will either be (a) thrilled that their sport is now part of a prime-time series, or (b) offended that the soccer part of "Matador" is incredibly dumb.

Tony is recruited by the CIA to infiltrate the L.A. Riot of the American United Soccer League — a substitute for Major League Soccer. Tony makes the team at open tryouts, despite the fact that he hasn’t played soccer since college.

The idea that a guy off the street could make it on a professional soccer team is ludicrous. The writers get around that by postulating that, during the tryout, Bravo does something that’s caught on film and goes viral.

The owner of the team (Alfred Molina) "sees him as an asset from a commercial perspective," said executive producer/co-creator Dan Dworkin. "That’s really kind of what puts him over the top."

That doesn’t explain how Tony ends up playing not long after that, but … you’ve just got to go with it.

"We sort of say that the L.A. Riot is an underdog team, that it’s slightly a team of misfits," Orci said. "Which, hopefully, makes it believable for an audience.... We don’t want to be assassinated by soccer fans."

story continues below
story continues below

Luna makes a believable soccer player, although he’s a novice to the sport — he played football and basketball growing up until an injury ended his hopes of playing college football. He’s also a novice to being what Orci referred to as "an international man of mystery."

Luna said the spy stuff takes him back to when he was "12 years old. It’s like running around with squirt guns and playing ball. I mean, it’s really just super cool, man."

"It’s kickass," Rodriguez said. "It’s unpredictable. It’s your dream kind of show to do."

(It’s also quite violent. Definitely not for young kids.)

"Matador" isn’t as much about soccer as it is an action/adventure. And the plan is for him to grow as both a spy and a soccer player over at least 26 episodes. (El Rey has already ordered a second, 13-episode season.)

"We think of this as an origin story for a hero," Orci said.

Just go with it. Don’t think about it. "Matador" is fun.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.