I watched the first episode of HBO’s new horse-racing series “Luck” on Sunday, but it’s still way too early to make a lasting assessment. Some of it was difficult to follow, but in an interesting, compelling way. David Milch has a knack for developing new universes and languages in his series. When it’s littered with profanities, like “Deadwood,” it’s easier to draw connections. On the other hand, I still have no idea what “John from Cincinnati” was about. The language of “Luck” felt just out of reach. With three or four episodes under my belt, I think the connections will all come together, and the series could ultimately rise to the elite section of television dramas, along with “Justified,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Game of Thrones.” It certainly has the cast to at least ensure it gets noticed come Emmy nominations time: Dustin Hoffman, Denis Farina, Richard Kind, Jill Hennessy, Nick Nolte, and the original Johnny Depp knock-off, Jason Gedrick.
I would, however, warn those who are sensitive to animal injuries to beware: I don’t think the series will be kind to horses. That first episode had a doozy of a painful moment. The horse racing sequences, however, are phenomenal.
What we do know now is that — after a solid 3.3 million people watched the pilot — HBO will give the show at least one more season to show us what it’s got. Given the fierce competition in the time slot — it’s up against “The Good Wife,” “Downton Abbey,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Shameless” in quality television’s most crowded time slot — it will need to impress quickly if it wants to keep its audience, even with re-airs throughout the week.
Also, why premiere a Sunday night show the week before the Super Bowl knowing most people will not be watching live the following week? Programmers befuddle me.