Three New Narco Dramas Coming in January

Three new narco dramas begin airing in January. They look promising, although I've learned over the past two years that not every series can be an El Capo, La Reina del Sur, Senor de los Cielos or Pablo Escobar: Patron de Mal.

Duenos del Paraíso , on Telemundo, has Kate Castillo of La Reina del Sur as the lead star. An abbreviated 34 minute version of the first episode with English subtitles is available free on Xfinity on Demand. It looks like a winner. It was non-stop action with a myriad of plots. It takes place in the 70's in Mexico and Miami.

The second is a Colombian show by Caracol, airing on Unimas, Tiro de Gracia ("Shot of Grace") starring Robinson Diaz, who was one of the best characters in Senor de los Cielos. He plays two roles, an actor forced to have plastic surgery and become the double for a cartel leader, and the cartel leader. [More...]

The third is also a Colombian series also on Unimas, La Esquina del Diablo ("The Devil's Corner"), starring Ana Seradilla, who recently starred as Griselda Blanca in La Vieuda de Negra ("Black Widow.") Also in lead roles are the actor who played the betraying boyfriend in La Reina del Sur and the actor who played Pablo Escobar's cousin and partner Gustavo de Jesus Gaviria in Patron del Mal. Two more familiar actors are the one who played cop Norm Jones in Viuda Negra, and one who played one of Pablo Escobar's hit men in Patron de Mal. The synopsis is in Spanish, but I think Ana plays an undercover cop whose father was a cop who was murdered. She falls in love with both the lead cop who is chasing the top narco, and the top narco's right hand man. The cop has a drug problem because of a guilty secret in his past. As a teenager, he was the one who killed Ana's father. The other guy Ana falls for, the right-hand of the narco, was blamed for the murder and served 10 years.

I can't tell if any of these shows will have English subtitles or captions. If it's just captions, Xfinity subscribers may be out of luck, since their cable boxes seem to only have a caption on/off setting, with captions on Spanish shows only in Spanish when the feature is turned on. So it will be back to the indoor TV antenna, since TV sets give you the choice of showing captions in English or Spanish. The downside is there's no recording feature, so you have to watch each show while it is airing. The shows' episodes are an hour long and air 4 to 5 nights a week for around three months, so they are quite a time commitment.

Some of them, particularly El Capo I, II and III and La Reina del Sur, I've watched more than once. Why? Here's a consumer review of El Capo, which unfortunately, has no English subtitles.

El Capo is the Sopranos, the Wire, 24 and the movie Traffic all rolled into one plus more! I simply can't turn it off. The intensity is off the hook. Absolutely the best novela to come out of Colombia ever, hands down. I think it's so sad that this series doesn't have English subtitles. The audience would blow up if English-speakers could watch it and understand what's going on. As a Spanish as a second language speaker, I understand a good 95 percent of the dialog. But, I implore whoever can make this happen, please subtitle this series.

This is all just another reason I intend to get back to improving my limited Spanish. Fluenz, the program I like the best of the six or so I've tested, costs a whopping $677.00. Right now it's on sale for $299 at Amazon, but that's still a lot of money. I wish there was a Spanish language program that taught using a narco drama as a script, like Mango does with movies. (Mango is also free online if you have a library card in many cities.)

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  • Display: Sort:
    I might give these a try (none / 0) (#1)
    by McBain on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 06:28:14 PM EST
    Most cop/FBI/DEA shows bore me to death but I did enjoy the first season of The Bridge... until the inevitable stand off scene were two people are pointing guns at each other and no one shoots or someone has a bomb so everyone does what he wants.

    How do these new shows compare to The Bridge?

    My all time favorite cops shows ...
    The Wire
    The Shield
    Miami Vice (I was a kid)

    one correction (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 07:26:50 PM EST
    I loved Miami Vice back in the day.

    Also, you can buy some of the series on Ebay and Amazon but if you aren't bilingual, make sure you check whether there are subitles.

    A great series in English is the Canadian series, "Intelligence." I think it's still available on Hulu if you search for it by name. It ran for 2 seasons. It is set in Vancouver. It has the drug traffickers vs Canadian intelligence vs the DEA. You can also buy it on Amazon here. See here for  a review. There is a synopsis here (click on "Productions" and then on "Intelligence."


    Agree on Intelligence (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jmacWA on Wed Dec 24, 2014 at 12:36:44 PM EST
    great show, just ended too soon, could have gone on and wrapped things up a bit better

    I didn't like the Bridge (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 07:06:03 PM EST
    or Southland.  I don't watch cop shows.

    With the exception of the new show Duenos with Ana Seradilla, cops play a secondary role. These shows are much more about the cartels and drug traffickers and corruption (in government and the military.) While there are lots of cops and military chasing the traffickers, and lots of shootouts, kidnappings, assassinations and occasionally a little bit of torture, and many cops and political figures (as well as narcos) get killed, the shows are not told from the law enforcement perspective.

    Senor de Los Cielos did have cops in lead roles and they moralized, but they weren't the focus, the Carrillo Fuentes brothers were.

    The shows are about the traffickers', their lives and businesses, families (wives, girlfriends, kids) and their relationships with each other. They show how the characters got involved in the drug business and the inter-cartel fights, changes of leadership, betrayals, etc. There's a lot of violence, but it has a point. There's a also romance and loss. The women are strong characters and sometimes are better at the business and just as violent and treacherous as the males.

    Contrary to what many people think, the shows do not glorify drug trafficking. They explore the trafficker's personalities and lives and humanize them, so they are not one-dimensional, but most of the narcos pay a heavy price.

    (An exception may be the new show I mention above called Duenas del Paraiso -- from the synopsis, it seems the lead character is a cop.)

    These shows are much better than U.S. crime shows-- much faster paced, more action, more emotion, more drama and a lot of suspense. You get more invested in the characters and there's very little moralizing. It's not needed. The viewer can easily see the flaws of the traffickers and how their lives end up. No one would envy them. They are just shown to have good qualities as well as terrible ones.

    I enjoyed the movie "Traffic" (none / 0) (#4)
    by McBain on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 09:42:29 PM EST
    and the British mini series it was based on,  maybe these shows will be similar. I just can't stand dumb action scenes.  

    Somewhat related to drug cartel shows was "Sons of Anarchy".  I'm embarrassed to say I watched every single episode. I hadn't seen more unrealistic gun fights since "The A Team".


    Yo hablo Español, pero (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by fishcamp on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 10:44:14 PM EST
    no haemos visto.