It takes a time commitment to become immersed in a new show and sign on as a weekly viewer. Occasionally a show will get its hooks into you instantly (Dexter, Entourage, The Wire), while other times it is more of a gradual process. Though the pace is slow and somewhat deliberate, after just three episodes of HBO’s new series Luck I am fairly certain that I am all in for the rest of the season.
When the previews for Luck began airing towards the end of the 2nd season of Boardwalk Empire, I was fairly intrigued. On the surface at it had all the makings of a quality show; a top notch cast, well known director orchestrating the pilot (Michael Mann), interweaving plotlines, and cagey characters. It also deals with a few topics even the casual sport fans might be interested in, namely gambling and the world of horse racing (Additionally, TV execs and producers should really start cranking out more premium TV series centering around gambling, casinos, Vegas, etc. You can’t go wrong).
A bit of a gambler myself, in the summer I usually make the short jaunt up 87 north to Saratoga to place a few bets on the ponies with Buddy Fitz and Co. Making a trip to the track has been an annual event as long I can remember, so I am pretty familiar with much of the verbiage in and around the grandstand area. Luck though has revealed the horse racing world through a completely different perspective, taking viewers into the clubhouse and backside of the track where much of the training is done. This show is unique in that it is the one that I can recall that revolves around the world of horse racing, and the various stock characters presented and wheel and dealing throughout has made for some entertaining television.
As I stated earlier, the cast assembled for this series is an impressive one. With Dustin Hoffman working the lead, each scene presents a handful of actors you will instantly recognize. The hardest part for me to this point has been keeping track of the all the character names and attempting to piece together the backstories, as the cast is at least 10-15 deep.
The core of this story centers around Chester “Ace” Bernstein (Hoffman). Fresh off of a three- year prison term, “Ace” is trying to gain control of a racetrack while at the same time working to destroy some of his former/current business associates who were responsible for his prison term. Concurrently, plotlines including four friends who hit it big on a “pick six” and walk around with a duffle bag of cash, an aging trainer (played by Nick Nolte) hoping to hit it big again, and the ins and outs of a few of the jockeys are also occurring. There is a lot to take in during some spots, but overall the writing is crisp and intense.
It doesn’t appear that there will be any immediate resolution to a majority of the moving parts of this show. Glancing ahead at the previews, it is going to be a slow-build with plenty of highs and some inevitable self-destruction for some of the characters. Already renewed for a second season, Luck has the luxury of plotting out its stories in the timeline it sees fit, and as along as a good portion of the current cast remains in place my interest will continue to be piqued.
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