Leave nothing to chance.
HBO presents this provocative original series set in the worlds of horseracing and gambling. Created and executive produced by David Milch (Deadwood), legendary director Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies) and Carolyn Strauss, this one-hour drama series centers on Chester 'Ace' Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), an intuitive tough guy with a long history in dirty pool. Recently released after three years in prison, Ace and his longtime chauffeur (Dennis Farina) craft a complex plan to reverse the sagging fortunes of a California racetrack. Meanwhile, four dissolute gamblers at the track pool their resources in an effort to win an elusive Pick Six bet while a weathered trainer (Nick Nolte) sees a second chance in an untested thoroughbred. The stellar cast also includes: John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Kevin Dunn, Jason Gedrick, Ritchie Coster, Ian Hart, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon and Jill Hennessy.
Billed as the complete first season boxset, but in fact the only season the show is going to get, Luck was cut short by issues with the production that were well-reported at the time. It’s a shame, too. While it takes the show a little while to build up, this is a weighty, serious piece of television drama, one that’s dripping with quality.
The star names certainly do it no harm. Dustin Hoffman takes the lead here as a man just released from prison, who decides to try and turn around a California-based racetrack. Immediately, Hoffman is magnetic too, portraying a character based boasting many shades of grey. Nick Nolte gets a juicy role, too, as a horse trainer desperately trying to find success.
Horse racing, and the gambling that surrounds it, proves to be rich pickings for Luck. It takes a lot of time to get things into place, and inevitably, some will be left a little cold by its patient approach. But it’s a complex drama that it’s building up here, with lots of characters, and several narratives at work.
It’s quality, ambitious television, on a disc released backed with substantive extra features. On top of commentary tracks, there are some interesting behind the scenes documentaries to digest here. It’s a rounded, carefully crafted package, for a show that deserves the attention. --Jon Foster
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