HBO’s NEW SERIES: LUCK

According to ESPN’s Bill Findley, “Luck,” looks like a “winner:”

It takes the new HBO series “Luck,” which opens with Dustin Hoffman’s character being released from jail, no more than about three minutes to get to the racetrack, and when it does it’s immediately apparent that this will be nothing like the typical horse racing movie or television show. The show connects right out of the gate with its authenticity, with shots of horses galloping in the morning, steam cascading from their mouths and nostrils, gamblers filling out Pick Six slips and a larcenous trainer chewing out his apprentice jockey for running his mouth about how well a particular horse is doing.


The motion picture and television industries have always used large helpings of artistic license when it comes to racing, choosing hokum over the real thing every time. That may be because Hollywood guessed that horse racing unfiltered isn’t all that interesting or is too confusing.


The motion picture and television industries have always used large helpings of artistic license when it comes to racing, choosing hokum over the real thing every time.


Created by David Milch, among other things a prominent racehorse owner, “Luck” refuses to lower itself to that level. Here, you get the real thing, which, during the pilot episode, includes scenes of a horse breaking down and being unsympathetically destroyed on the racetrack. The television version was every bit as gory as the real thing.


Milch and company are gambling that the racetrack world, combined with their acting, directing and writing talents, will make for compelling television. That doesn’t exactly make it an odds-on favorite, but the first episode certainly suggests that they may be on to a winning formula. …

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Jay Cronley wasn’t as impressed labeling the show “decent.”

“Luck” is a bunch of stories running simultaneously in and around a horse race track: Dustin Hoffman plays an ex-con, going from jailbird to railbird, looking to make a killing with a big horse and with slot machines at Santa Anita; Nick Nolte is the standard issue grizzled trainer with a little horse offering a last run at the glory days; four degenerates win $2.6 million and don’t cash in the ticket until another day; Gary Stevens is a drunk jockey (an apprentice jockey looks like he could start at safety for the 49ers); and a larcenous track security guard is willing to do anything for a dollar but work; old saws playing familiar tunes.


It’s good to see Hoffman not being a Focker, and Nolte moving beyond that mug shot; throughout the pilot episode, you kept wondering, where’s Mickey Rourke?


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