(Tuesday, July 15, 9 p.m. ET/PT, El Rey Network) 7/14/2014 8:00 AM Eastern

If you like your action-adventure series to have flash, wit and a bit of actual athletic sport, Matador could be your perfect post-World Cup cocktail. It sure worked for me, far better than when lead character Tony “Matador” Bravo (Gabriel Luna) is compelled to drink tequila.


Played purely for fun, it starts out looking a bit like a spy-movie parody, with stock characters and girls in bikinis. But then you pick up some sharply funny lines and laugh unexpectedly at some physical comedy (like the tequila impact), and realize there’s intelligence at work, and solid decisions from El Rey chief Robert Rodriguez, who directed episode one. Then the soccer kicks in. Bravo is an undercover DEA agent whom the CIA recruits to infiltrate the L.A. Riot, a team that seems to have much higher stature and local news interest than the actual Los Angeles Galaxy has ever attained, even when David Beckham played there. Bravo tries out and, with the proper encouragement from his blonde CIA handler, Annie Mason (Nicky Whelan), and coaching from a former female soccer pro (Temryss Lane), earns a spot. It’s all quite realistic — better than, say, Footballers’ Wives — or at least plausible, and I hope there’s quite a bit of game action in episodes to come.

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