As much as we’d like to fall in love with an equestrian-themed television series, we don’t think HBO’s “Luck” is going to be the one.
The series pilot (Episode 1) has been critiqued elsewhere as long on character development, short on plot. We concur and, while denizens of the track are typically a real lot of characters, the opening episode left us wondering whether we cared what happens next.
The most appealing part of the track, for us anyway, is the horses and Luck does offer lots of long Thoroughbred legs and spectacularly-shot racing footage. (There’s also some inaccuracies in the horse scenes that an equestrian watcher will surely spot.)
The least appealing part of the track (again, for us) is the betting, and this, unfortunately, is where “Luck” casts the bulk of it’s attention.
Two of racings most photogenic jockeys, Gary Stevens and Chantal Sutherland, lend an air of authenticity to an already impressive cast, including Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, Richard Kind, Nick Nolte, Jill Hennessy among them.
Let’s just say we were intrigued enough to plan on watching Episode 2, but there are a few areas where we hope - but aren’t confident – “Luck” will improve:
Though the track has always been a man’s world, there are many women that earn their living on the backside – as trainers, vets, exercise riders, and jockeys – and we hope “Luck’s” female characters will play more than a peripheral role.
And, from it’s opening sequence, “Luck” pivots on the notion of the horse as a redemptive force in man’s world. Romantic and appealing as that notion is, we’re not as comfortable with the horse as pawn as “Luck’s” producers may be.
Interested viewers beware, Episode 1 includes a graphic mid-race breakdown scene with an audible snap. We apologize for the spoiler, but we know it’s one a lot of equestrians appreciate.
“Luck” airs on HBO on Sundays at 9pm.
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