Sunday, March 25, 2012

HBO's Luck-Series Finale Thoughts

HBO's Luck is now over for good with the season and now series finale airing Sunday night. As a racing fan, the last few weeks have been like a continual nightmare, the really bad one that keeps going forever, the one you think you will never wake up from.

First we hear of the sad news that HBO, under pressure from PETA after a 3rd Horse fatality, quickly decides to cancel Luck. On the real life tracks, we read of the deaths this season on the inner track at Aqueduct. And than, the NY Times this past Friday ran a front page story titled "Death and Disarray at America's racetracks".

With all this dreary news running circles in my head I watched the finale of Luck.
Although it was filmed with the assumption a second season would be coming, the season one finale does serve nicely as a fitting ending to the series.

Many early viewers of the show thought the show was dreary and dark, but there was a lot of hope and optimism in the final episode, from the competitive but mutual admiration of the two trainers, Turo and Walter as their horses finished one, two in the Big Stakes race, Ace reuniting with his grandson, and the Foray Stables Foursome and friends happily celebrating a big win with Mon Gateau.

I admired the many wonderful actors in this show, especially John Ortiz, who could have simply kept quiet after the cancellation news, but instead increased his many tweets (@johnortiz718) about the show, continued to show up for #LuckChat Twitter chats (final session on Monday 3/26 from 9-10pm) and personally tweeted thanks to many viewers who contacted him via Twitter.

As I said in my last post, I can't question HBO's decision to cancel the show. The deaths to the horses happened and despite the care that was taken by the production crew, the reality of what happened had to be dealt with. For some background on the treatment on the horses on set, Ray Paulick in his Paulick Report, details the great care the production crew took with the horses.

How fitting then that the show ended with just one actor on the screen, the equine actor playing 3 year old colt Pint o' Plain, standing peacefully in his stall. We see this beautiful horse poking his head out of the stall, and than the screen fades to black.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Out of Luck

After a reported 3rd death of a horse during the production of HBO's Luck, the series is no more, abruptly cancelled. The final episode of the 9 episode season 1 will be shown this Sunday March 25th. Work had begun on Season 2, but Season 2 is a no go.

No one wants to see animals hurt and not being on the set or knowing the safety protocols in place, I can't possibly argue in good faith that the series should continue. I trust the right decision was made.

I feel saddened for all involved including the fine actors involved. Particularly Richard Kind, John Ortiz and Kevin Dunn who all shined among the large cast.

I've read on the various websites and Twitter that the show was boring or uninteresting. Well TV is art and opinion of art is just that, we all have opinions and its all subjective. It is interesting to note that many of the critics watched only the 1st episode. As any fan of creator David Milch knows, his shows evolve over time with almost every spoken line in one episode a key to be remembered in future episodes. (Syntax is how I know, Syntax!)

Some found the show depressing and saw the characters as "down and out". I'd argue the shows characters were not down and out at all, but rather real people just like the many folks I've met over the years at the track. Look at the evolution of the 4 gamblers who were labeled simply degenerates by critics of the show. Had the critics stuck around to watch these 4 characters develop they would have seen they were more than that, 4 men with dreams and depths of emotions who loved not just gambling but the animals they bet on as well as each other.

What is so ironic with the cancellation is that with each episode you saw how much the human characters really cared for these horses. Last weeks episode faded to black with Dustin Hoffman's character sitting in his bed late at night watching on his laptop via webcam his prized 3 year old horse in his stall.