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Series / Luck (2011)

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David Milch (of Deadwood and NYPD Blue) returns to HBO with his typical idiosyncratic view of humanity. His subject this time is a racetrack, where trainers, jockeys, gamblers, and others all coalesce in an experience like no other.

The series begins with Chester "Ace" Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) being released from prison, with his record meaning he can no longer own a racehorse. But he just gets his bodyguard Gus to buy one for him, and prepares to use the winnings to establish a casino nearby. Also, a quartet of self-described degenerate gamblers have figured out a new way to play the odds that could mean endless riches, and the drama between a new jockey, his agent, and his boss adds to our view of what goes on behind the scenes of the sport that makes the whole thing tick.

The series was cancelled after one season due to a series of high-profile horse injuries/deaths.


This series provides examples of:

  • Assassin Outclassin': Not only does Gus ambush and kill an assassin with his bare hands, but his idle chatter with Ace makes it seem like this isn't the first time.
    Gus: Remember Chicago? I think we've got a situation like that again.
  • Auto Erotica: Jerry and Naomi's "driving lesson" in Episode 7.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Gus "the Greek" seems like an easygoing guy, then he disarms a hitman and kills him with nothing but his bare hands in the last episode.
  • Bungled Suicide: Joey Rathburn only grazes his cheek when an earthquake jogs his aim right before he fires. Later, when he goes to a hospital to take care of his cheek, he realizes that his stuttering has stopped.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Jo has one in the final episode after being kicked by a horse
  • Fiery Redhead: Subverted in that Rosie can be quite demure, except when she's riding in a horse race.
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  • The Gambling Addict: Gerry is a successful horse handicapper, but still feels the need to blow his winnings on poker.
  • London Gangster: Michael Gambon's Mike
  • No Ending: The series finale doesn't really wrap any of the plotlines up to any degree, and the show was unexpectedly canceled due to the number of horse deaths.
  • Pet the Dog: Turo is a pretty big asshole through the first half of the series, but he mellows out a little after taking an at-risk boy under his wing.
  • Professional Gambler: The four amigos seem to have no other job besides betting on horses.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The series was cancelled after the third horse death while filming. Production was halted shortly after filming began on season 2. According to Richard Kind, the series was unlikely to have gone past a second season anyway.
  • The Unintelligible: A common complaint about the show was that many characters are unintelligible due to thick accents, stuttering, mumbling, and being Nick Nolte.

Alternative Title(s): Luck