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HBO’s Luck: Bad Break, Strong Finish

The best way to describe the new HBO series, Luck, by David Milch (Deadwood) and Michael Mann (Miami Vice), that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte?

Bad break, strong finish.

After watching the series premier this past weekend I’d give it a 3.5 out 5.  Or in horse racing terms, put him in your deep exotics because he shows potential.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the hour-long premier and was fully engulfed the entire time.  But for much of that time I was trying to play catch up with everything that was going on.

As the series begins, someone who appears to be a mobster Chester “Ace” Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) leaves prison with what appears to be a bit of an attitude. He’s picked up by his driver/friend, Gus (Dennis Farina), who fronts as the owner of a thoroughbred purchased by Ace.

Luck shows little concern with helping the audience understand what’s going on. Instead, they introduce us to a solid assortment of characters at the racetrack (Santa Anita) as the narrative framework of the story.

As the episode continues, we find ourselves flashing back and forth between several different storylines that, seems to be clear, will all intertwine as the series rolls on.

This is where Luck has me a little worried. Viewers may struggle a bit as the plot unveils itself, given the short attention span of most all mainstream audiences.  But to the horse racing extrordinares, it’s just awesome storyline after storyline.

It may take some patience, but if viewers can hang on long enough to watch these storylines unfold, we will all be amazed with the stretch run this series has to offer.

Luck

HBO, Sunday nights at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.

Created by David Milch; pilot directed by Michael Mann; pilot written by Mr. Milch; Mr. Milch, Mr. Mann and Carolyn Strauss, executive producers; Henry Bronchtein and Eric Roth, co-executive producers; Dustin Hoffman, producer.

WITH: Dustin Hoffman (Ace Bernstein), Nick Nolte (Walter Smith), Dennis Farina (Gus Demitriou), John Ortiz (Turo Escalante), Richard Kind (Joey Rathburn), Ian Hart (Lonnie), Kevin Dunn (Marcus), Ritchie Coster (Renzo), Jason Gedrick (Jerry), Jill Hennessy (Jo), Tom Payne (Leon), Kerry Condon (Rosie) and Gary Stevens (Ronnie Jenkins).

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