JANUARY 29, 2011-MARCH 25, 2012
Throughout the first episode it is clear that HBO decided to cross the finish line with what can only be described as the biggest ensemble cast of the new century. The fuel for the story-line is that there is a circle of different angles that lead into the main character Chester "Ace" Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman). Some shows become buried in a whirlpool of plots with so much going on that unless it is viewed consecutively it is hard not to drown. "Luck" finds a place somewhere between a plethora of plot lines while forcing each one forward.
"Ace" has just been release from prison after serving a three year sentence. Gus (Dennis Farina) longtime driver and confidant meets "Ace" at the exit walls of the prison opening the shows debut episode. Mike (Michael Gambon) former business partner of uses an apartment owned by "Ace" store huge amounts of cocaine that lead to his arrest and conviction. Payback is his only motivation of which he sets his plan in motion immediately after the prison doors close behind him.
The cast is deep with talent with HBO's past record of producing great series it is easy to understand why actors who mainly grace the big screen would find a place in their schedule to be a part of a new show. Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte are the two most well known actors. Each actor has spent quality time in front of the camera building careers that still hold up today. From there the cast is a round table of quality hard pressed to be found anywhere else Dennis Farina (Gus Demitriou), John Ortiz (Turo Escalante), Richard Kind (Joey Rathburn), Kevin Dunn (Marcus Becker), Jill Hennessy (Jo Carter), Ritchie Coster (Renzo Calagari), Jason Gedrick (Jerry Boyle), Kerry Condon (Rosie Shanahan), Gary Stevens (Ronnie Jenkins) ,Tom Payne (Leon Micheaux) and Ian Hart (Lonnie McHinery).
McHinery played by our favorite Ian Hart an English actor who we loved an adored as Don Konkey on FX's show Dirt. McHinery has partnered with a group of "railbirds" looking to score big at the track by pooling their money together and betting on a long shot horse. The group believes Escalante is masking the horses true colors to use his own money to bet on "Mon Gateau" the horse in question. By manipulating the odds Escalante would stand to profit a huge amount of cash. This is the story line that most intrigues us about the show next to the Walter Smith (Nick Nolte) tale.
Smith has had a successful career as a trainer then later he became a thoroughbred owner. He has decided to train his own horse "Gettn'up Morning" which he knows was sired by "Delphi" a horse that he loved dearly while a trainer for a man known as "the Colonel". Gettn'up Morning and Smith seem to have a mental connection that shows when their eyes meet. Delphia was killed for profit when the Colonel passes away an his heirs destroy the horse to collect an insurance policy.
Although Chester "Ace" Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) seems to be the heart of the story that builds into all the other characters he does not have the strength to hold the viewers attention. Hoffman seems to be using his work in Tootsie to foot shuffle around his condo while bouncing thoughts an ideas off his always attentive driver and confidant, Gus. They have a relaxed bond which would be hard pressed to find in today's ever suspicious world.
David Milch who we respect as a writer/producer who brings his own approach to script development. As with Deadwood he likes to monitor the filming, accessing the ambiance created by the actors and using this to feed into his writing of subsequent scenes.
This HBO show sadly does not hold up to some of the great work that usually emerges from the premier cable channel. We often find ourselves drifting away from the screen into thoughts of other things we might be doing. Milch and HBO are a team to be reckoned with but for "Luck" the should reckon on creating something with more pace.