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Luck (TV series)

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Title: Luck (TV series)  
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Subject: Tom Payne (actor), List of programs broadcast by HBO, Patrick J. Adams, Michael Mann (director), Dustin Hoffman
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Luck (TV series)

Created by David Milch
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Dennis Farina
John Ortiz
Richard Kind
Kevin Dunn
Ian Hart
Ritchie Coster
Jason Gedrick
Kerry Condon
Gary Stevens
Tom Payne
Jill Hennessy
Nick Nolte
Michael Gambon
Opening theme "Splitting the Atom" by Massive Attack
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 9 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Dustin Hoffman
Original channel HBO
Original run December 11, 2011 (2011-12-11) – March 25, 2012 (2012-03-25)
External links

Luck is an American dramatic television series created by David Milch and starring Dustin Hoffman. The pilot episode was directed by Michael Mann. The series premiered on January 29, 2012. HBO aired the first episode on December 11, 2011, as a preview.[1] It was immediately renewed for a second season of 10 episodes, scheduled to air beginning in January 2013.[2] However, the show was canceled on March 14, 2012 due to animal safety concerns. The first season's remaining episodes continued to air.[3] The complete first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 27, 2012.[4]



Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
"Pilot" Michael Mann David Milch December 11, 2011 (2011-12-11) 1.14[5]
Ace Bernstein is released from prison after three years and begins to plot his revenge on the associates who had him sent away. Ace’s lieutenant Gus acts as front for an investment in the race horse Pint of Plain. Pint of Plain’s trainer Turo Escalante manipulates the odds in favor of one of his other horses, Mon Gateau. The four railbirds – Jerry, Marcus, Renzo and Lonnie – pool their resources together to place a Pick Six bet with Mon Gateau as the centerpiece. Veteran trainer Walter Smith’s new thoroughbred, Gettn’up Morning, sparks an on-track rivalry between untested jockey Rosie and experience Ronnie, represented by agent Joey Rathburn. Ace’s plan against his former colleagues includes reviving the Santa Anita racetrack with casino gambling.
"Episode Two" Terry George John R. Perrotta February 5, 2012 (2012-02-05) 0.43[6]
Ace loses his temper during a meeting with two of the men that sent him to prison, DiRossi and Isadore Cohen. Marcus advises the other railbirds to not flaunt their newfound wealth from the Pick Six. Compulsive gambler Jerry ignores the warning and sits in at high-stakes poker games. Renzo wishes to claim one of Escalante’s horses. Lonnie parties with two cunning women. Rosie asks Walter for a chance to ride Gettn’up Morning.
"Episode Three" Allen Coulter Bill Barich February 12, 2012 (2012-02-12) 0.55[7]
Ronnie, Gettn’up Morning’s jockey, takes a tumble in another race and Walter is forced to call upon Joey to help locate the inexperienced Rosie. Ace meets the young and cocky Nathan Israel and hires him with the intent of getting closer to his revenge against his former associates. Ace is approached by Claire with a business opportunity. The railbirds attempt to buy Mon Gateau back from Mulligan and hire Escalante to train him.
"Episode Four" Phillip Noyce Jay Hovdey February 19, 2012 (2012-02-19) 0.44[8]
Ace faces off with his one-time partner Mike over Ace’s plan to take control of the Santa Anita racetrack. Claire proposes a business venture to Ace, who wishes to have a more personal relationship with her. Chan challenges Jerry to a private poker game. The railbirds have to save Jerry from gambling away his life. Rosie has the race of her life on Gettn’up Morning.
"Episode Five" Brian Kirk Scott Willson February 26, 2012 (2012-02-26) 0.50[9]
Escalante has entered Pint of Plain in a race with Leon as the jockey under the premise of needing to appease the gaming board, but ultimately scratching him. Ace sees through the lies and forces Escalante to swap out Leon for a more experienced jockey. Marcus has health concerns. Joey loses Ronnie as a client. Ace gives Claire a large check and invites her to watch Pint of Plain’s first race.
"Episode Six" Henry Bronchtein Robin Shushan March 4, 2012 (2012-03-04) 0.69[10]
Israel is offered a chance to work as a double agent against Ace. An earthquake puts things into prospective for Joey. Leon’s actions during his race on Mon Gateau has Escalante and the railbirds worried. Rosie ignores Walter’s advice and he is met with unwanted consequences. Jo wonders about her future with Escalante.
"Episode Seven" Brian Kirk Amanda Ferguson March 11, 2012 (2012-03-11) 0.47[11]
Ace and Claire take a tour of a prison outreach horse retirement farm. Walter defends his right of ownership to Gettn’up Morning. Jerry and Naomi try to enter a poker tournament. Israel represents Ace against Mike. Lonnie claims another horse named Niagara’s Fall. Walter has a decision to make. Rosie asks Joey for representation. Ronnie attempts to get his life back on track.
"Episode Eight" Allen Coulter John R. Perotta & Jay Hovdey March 18, 2012 (2012-03-18) 0.46[12]
Ace makes his move to purchase control of the track and goes around his former partners. Mike makes a move of his own. Walter enters Gettn’up Morning in the Western Derby against Pint of Plain. Leon loses his ride. Joey comes through for Rosie as her new agent. Jo’s budding pregnancy is put into jeopardy.
"Episode Nine" Mimi Leder Eric Roth March 25, 2012 (2012-03-25) 0.44[13]
The Western Derby, pitting Gettn’up Morning and Pint of Plain against each other, serves as the backdrop for other events. Jerry tries to figure out a new big score. Escalante awaits word about Jo. Renzo’s mother arrives in town. Ace feels guilt for Israel’s fate. Gus goes to extreme lengths to protect Ace.


"I hope it's a love letter. By saying that, I'm not saying it's a story coming through rose-colored glasses. To me, the track is what the river was to Mark Twain. Where you see the most life and interesting people, go there. That's what I've done."[14]

—David Milch, about his love for horseracing.

"The pilot is about a bunch of intersecting lives in the world of horse racing ... It's a subject which has engaged and some might say has compelled me for 50 years. I find it as complicated and engaging a special world as any I've ever encountered, not only in what happens in the clubhouse and the grandstand, but also on the backside of the track, where the training is done and where they house the horses."[15]

—Milch, about the series.

Before creating Luck, David Milch had worked in television for three decades. He started off as a writer on the series Hill Street Blues before co-creating NYPD Blue with Steven Bochco and creating the HBO series Deadwood. Milch had been fascinated by horse racing from an early age as his father would take him to the track. “My dad started taking me to Saratoga at age 5 or 6. You have so many associations from childhood that stay with you.”[14] He stated that he had been thinking about creating the series for 25 years and always pictured that it would be set at Santa Anita Park. "It's the most beautiful setting for horse racing that I've seen, and I'd include Saratoga", he said.[14]

The character of on-the-skids jockey Ronnie is portrayed by racing fixture Seabiscuit.

The series used 50 horses, trained by Matt Chew at Santa Anita. As he described, "Because it’s a natural tendency for horses to want to be a part of a herd, most adapt to it very well. We have a couple individuals that have been taught to be race horses; we’re not going to get that out of their system. We'll just have to adapt to it. But of the 50 horses, I’d say 45 of them have adapted to it real well."[16]

Safety concerns and cancellation

The safety of the series' working environment was called into question by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which criticized Luck over the injury and euthanization of two horses during filming for the pilot and the seventh episode. The American Humane Association (AHA) said both racehorses "stumbled and fell during short racing sequences" and that "the horses were checked immediately afterwards by the onsite veterinarians and in each case a severe fracture deemed the condition inoperable."[17] HBO pointed out that precautions had been taken: each horse was "limited to three runs per day and was rested in between those runs."[18][19] On March 13, 2012, HBO agreed to suspend all filming involving horses while investigations took place over the death of a third horse.[20] The AHA insisted the stoppage remain in effect until a comprehensive investigation was completed; it also noted the horse's injury did not occur during filming or racing.[21] The following day, HBO canceled the series, saying that while it "maintained the highest safety standards throughout production ... accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future."[22]

At the time of the show's cancellation, the second episode of the second season was in production.[23] Footage shot for the second season has not been released publicly.


Critical reception

Luck received positive reviews from television critics. On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season scored 75/100[24] indicating "Generally favorable reviews".

Linda Stasi from New York Post said in her review: "With an impossibly good cast, writing so spot-on it's poetic, and slow-build stories, I, for one, was left wanting more—even after watching the entire season."[25] Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times, on the other hand, found the show "needlessly opaque".[26] Newsday's Verne Gay praised the talent behind the series, "There are three excellent reasons—Milch, Mann and Hoffman—why your faith will be rewarded."[27] Alan Sepinwall from HitFix called the series "clear and engaging" and singled out Hoffman's performance: "Hoffman is the big name, and gives an impressively buttoned-down performance."[28]

Some criticism focused on the opacity of the plot, the apparent lack of attractive characters, and their audibility.[29]


The December 2011 preview episode garnered a total of 1.14 million viewers on its original airing with a 0.36 ratings share among adults 18-49.[30] The official series premiere, which was shown on January 29, 2012, garnered 1.06 million viewers with a 0.3 ratings share.[31] The viewership reached its second lowest mark with the seventh episode at 474,000 viewers and 0.14 share.[32]


The theme song for the series is "Splitting the Atom" by Massive Attack.

International distribution

Country Channel Premiere date Source(s)
 Brazil HBO Brazil
 Belgium Acht June 24, 2013 [33]
 Czech Republic
HBO Czech Republic
HBO Slovakia
February 6, 2012
Canal+ Series March 4, 2012 [34]
 Germany TNT Serie October 9, 2012 [35]
 Greece NET (ERT)
 France Orange cinémax June 19, 2012
 Hungary HBO Hungary February 6, 2012
 Ireland Sky Atlantic February 18, 2012 [36]
 Israel Yes Oh January 31, 2012
Middle East
North Africa
OSN First
February 1, 2012
 Macedonia HBO Macedonia February 6, 2012
HBO Asia February 20, 2012
 New Zealand Soho February 2012
 Poland HBO Poland January 30, 2012
 Portugal TVSéries February 5, 2012 [37]
 Romania HBO Romania February 5, 2012
 Spain Canal+ February 2012
 United Kingdom Sky Atlantic February 18, 2012 [36]
 South Africa M-Net August 24, 2012 [38]


  1. ^ Pennington, Gail. "'"HBO places its bets on new series 'Luck. Retrieved December 12, 2011. 
  2. ^ Pennington, Gail. "HBO renews 'Luck' -". Retrieved January 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ "HBO cancels 'Luck' after third horse death". Show Tracker (blog). Los Angeles Times. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Lambert, David (August 9, 2012). "Luck - Blu-rays, DVDs for HBO's David Milch-Created Series Starring Dustin Hoffman".  
  5. ^ Seidman, Robert (December 12, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush' Wins Again + 'Smackdown,' 'Sanctuary,' 'For Better or Worse' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 7, 2012). "Cable Ratings: ESPN Post Game Coverage Leads Quiet Super Bowl Sunday + 'Shameless,' 'Californication' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ Gorman, Bill (February 14, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Starts Big + Grammys Red Carpet, 'Ax Men', 'Pawn Stars,' 'Shameless,' 'House Of Lies' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: More Cable Beats Broadcast - 'The Walking Dead' Down, But Still Dominates + 'Ax Men', 'Khloe & Lamar,' 'Shameless,' 'House Of Lies' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  9. ^ Gorman, Bill (February 28, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Rises + 'NBA All-Star Game,' 'Ax Men', Oscar's Red Carpet & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ Bibel, Sara (March 6, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Storage Wars,' 'Army Wives,' 'Real Housewives' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ Kondoloy, Amanda (March 11, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Dominates, 'Oprah's Next Chapter' Sees Series High". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  12. ^ Bibel, Sara (March 20, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Walking Dead' Season Finale Laps the Field + 'Khloe & Lamar,' 'Frozen Planet,' 'Army Wives' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (March 27, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: NBA Basketball, 'Mad Men' Season Premiere + 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c Pugmire, Lance (December 25, 2011). "Q&A: David Milch on horse racing and iconic TV series". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  15. ^ Fleming, Michael (January 5, 2010). "Mann, Milch in 'Luck' with HBO". Variety. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ Golden, Ed (Undated; mid-late January 2012). "Stable Notes by Ed Golden: 'Luck' Horses Learn Their Roles from Matt Chew for HBO Series".  
  17. ^ Grant, Drew (February 6, 2012). "HBO Responds to Racing Show Luck’s Real-Life Horse Fatalities".  
  18. ^ HBO show Luck attacked over horse deaths, BBC, February 10, 2012.
  19. ^ LuckTV Review – HBO Series: ,, January 27, 2012.
  20. ^ "'"HBO suspends filming with horses on 'Luck.  
  21. ^ "Third Horse’s Death Forces HBO’s 'Luck' to Suspend Production with Animals". CBS Local Media. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  22. ^ Kenneally, Tim (March 14, 2012). Luck' Canceled After Latest Horse Death"'".  
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Luck: Season 1".  
  25. ^ Stasi, Linda (January 26, 2012). "'Luck' horse-track characters are best since 'Sopranos'".  
  26. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (January 27, 2012). "Review: Where Fortune Is Just Around the Bend".  
  27. ^ Gay, Verne (January 25, 2012). "Review: As 'Luck' has it, we like the handicap".  
  28. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (January 25, 2012). "'"Review: Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte head to the track in HBO's 'Luck.  
  29. ^ Anthony Andrew (January 25, 2012). "Rewind TV: Luck; Lucian Freud: Painted Life; Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – review".  
  30. ^ Seidman, Robert (December 12, 2011). "Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush' Wins Again + 'Smackdown,' 'Sanctuary,' 'For Better or Worse' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  31. ^ Gorman, Bill (January 31, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Kourtney & Kim' Finale Goes Large + Atlanta 'Housewives,' 'Ax Men, 'Mob Wives 2,' 'Shameless' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  32. ^ Kondoloy, Amanda (March 11, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Dominates, 'Oprah's Next Chapter' Sees Series High". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Luck - Vanaf dinsdag 24 juni op Acht" (in Dutch). Retrieved August 3, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Luck". Canal+ (in Swedish). Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  35. ^ "TNT Serie zeigt "Luck" in Deutschland". (in German). Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  36. ^ a b "Sky Atlantic Sets UK Premiere Date For Luck". TVWise. February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  37. ^ "HBO estreia Luck na América Latina" [HBO premieres Luck in Latin America)]. HBO Brazil (in Spanish). January 24, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Luck - new racing TV series on Mnet". September 3, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 

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