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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 release 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]



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"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."[5]

—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."[6]

—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.”[5] 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.[5]

The character of on-the-skids jockey Ronnie is portrayed by racing fixture Gary L. Stevens, a Hall of Fame jockey who has won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in the course of his career. Stevens portrayed jockey George Woolf in the 2003 film 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."[7]

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."[8] HBO pointed out that precautions had been taken: each horse was "limited to three runs per day and was rested in between those runs."[9][10] On March 13, 2012, HBO agreed to suspend all filming involving horses while investigations took place over the death of a third horse.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13]

At the time of the show's cancellation, the second episode of the second season was in production.[14] 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[15] 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."[16] Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times, on the other hand, found the show "needlessly opaque".[17] 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."[18] 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."[19]

Some criticism focused on the opacity of the plot, the apparent lack of attractive characters, and their audibility.[20]


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.[21] The official series premiere, which was shown on January 29, 2012, garnered 1.06 million viewers with a 0.3 ratings share.[22] The viewership reached its second lowest mark with the seventh episode at 474,000 viewers and 0.14 share.[23]


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

International distribution

Country Channel Premiere date Source(s)
23x15px Brazil HBO Brazil [citation needed]
23x15px Belgium Acht June 24, 2013 [24]
23x15px Czech Republic
23x15px Slovakia
HBO Czech Republic
HBO Slovakia
February 6, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Denmark
23x15px Finland
23x15px Norway
23x15px Sweden
Canal+ Series March 4, 2012 [25]
23x15px Germany TNT Serie October 9, 2012 [26]
23x15px Greece NET (ERT)
23x15px France Orange cinémax June 19, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Hungary HBO Hungary February 6, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Ireland Sky Atlantic February 18, 2012 [27]
Template:Country data Israel Yes Oh January 31, 2012 [citation needed]
Middle East
20px North Africa
OSN First
February 1, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Macedonia HBO Macedonia February 6, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Malaysia
23x15px Singapore
23x15px Thailand
HBO Asia February 20, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px New Zealand Soho February 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Poland HBO Poland January 30, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Portugal TVSéries February 5, 2012 [28]
23x15px Romania HBO Romania February 5, 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px Spain Canal+ February 2012 [citation needed]
23x15px United Kingdom Sky Atlantic February 18, 2012 [27]
23x15px South Africa M-Net August 24, 2012 [29]


  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". Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Fleming, Michael (January 5, 2010). "Mann, Milch in 'Luck' with HBO". Variety. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ Golden, Ed (Undated; mid-late January 2012). "Stable Notes by Ed Golden: 'Luck' Horses Learn Their Roles from Matt Chew for HBO Series". Santa Anita Park. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Grant, Drew (February 6, 2012). "HBO Responds to Racing Show Luck’s Real-Life Horse Fatalities". The New York Observer. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ HBO show Luck attacked over horse deaths, BBC, February 10, 2012.
  10. ^ TV Review – HBO Series: Luck,, January 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "HBO suspends filming with horses on 'Luck'". Associated Press via March 13, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Third Horse’s Death Forces HBO’s 'Luck' to Suspend Production with Animals". CBS Local Media. March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  13. ^ Kenneally, Tim (March 14, 2012). "'Luck' Canceled After Latest Horse Death". The Wrap. Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Luck: Season 1". Metacritic. 
  16. ^ Stasi, Linda (January 26, 2012). "'Luck' horse-track characters are best since 'Sopranos'". New York Post. 
  17. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (January 27, 2012). "Review: Where Fortune Is Just Around the Bend". New York Times. 
  18. ^ Gay, Verne (January 25, 2012). "Review: As 'Luck' has it, we like the handicap". Newsday. 
  19. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (January 25, 2012). "Review: Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte head to the track in HBO's 'Luck'". HitFix. 
  20. ^ Anthony Andrew (January 25, 2012). "Rewind TV: Luck; Lucian Freud: Painted Life; Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – review". The Guardian. 
  21. ^ Cite error: The named reference Seidman was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ "Luck - Vanaf dinsdag 24 juni op Acht" (in Dutch). Retrieved August 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Luck". Canal+ (in Swedish). Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  26. ^ "TNT Serie zeigt "Luck" in Deutschland". (in German). Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "Sky Atlantic Sets UK Premiere Date For Luck". TVWise. February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  28. ^ "HBO estreia Luck na América Latina" [HBO premieres Luck in Latin America)]. HBO Brazil (in Spanish). January 24, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Luck - new racing TV series on Mnet". September 3, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 

External links