I did something quite unusual with Luck, despite heavily criticising the pilot, I trusted another reviewer and kept watching. Maureen Ryan recommended watching the first four episodes before making a decision, and although I still didn’t get on with it, I stuck it out for another 5 to get to the end of the single season series.
While I’m not sure I’d ever have fallen in love with this series, I do feel frustrated by the fact that there were so many minor changes that could have been made by the producers that would have helped me enjoy the show a lot more. Fundamentally it should not be so extraordinarily hard to understand what your characters are saying! I would rewind scenes over and over, because I knew I was missing vital plot developments and character insights but between impenetrable accents, droning mumbling and an over-abundance of jargon, I just couldn’t work it out. Almost every scene either had a character that was incomprehensible or a string of racing or betting parlance with no effort made to explain what was going on.
It just feels like such a waste, the series was beautifully shot, I’ve never seen such incredible footage of horses racing. It really was breathtaking watching the close-ups and slow motion tracking shots of these incredible animals. You got such a sense of their power and intelligence it was truly moving. As the characters rode them, or watched them from afar you could perfectly comprehend why they loved their horses so much, I found myself simultaneously on the edge of my seat and moved to tears.
What little I could understand of the plot was interesting. The interweaving of so many different perspectives of the horses and racetrack was fascinating. So many points of view were included and yet it never felt particularly jumbled or rushed. Despite the big star name, I actually found Dustin Hoffman’s storyline the weakest; although the relationship with Gus was interesting I struggled to care about his revenge plot and certainly never worked out what he was doing (it’s a measure of how much I struggled that I don’t know if I didn’t understand the explanation, or if it was never actually explained). Everyone else had interesting things going on – the vet, the trainers, the jockeys, the gamblers, the agents – I just wish I could work out what they were saying.
I was tempted to write this review without comment about the fact that there will be no more episodes – despite being renewed for a second series, it was cancelled when a horse died during filming of the early episodes, the third animal to die during the series. No creature should be endangered for the purposes of entertainment. I don’t know the circumstances of the deaths, if they were accidents (avoidable or otherwise) or natural causes, but I’m impressed at the responsibility of the production team that called a halt to a success show which they clearly put a great deal of care into. However, two horses died at this year’s Grand National and two horses died at last year’s Grand National too. If horse racing is dangerous, it should not be allowed, whether it’s for a television series or for ‘sport’. The television producers should feel very proud of the fact that they hold themselves to a higher standard than those that organise and participate in the Grand National.
I would likely not have watched a second season of the show, in fact if I hadn’t known I could ‘complete’ the series with only a few episodes, I may not even have made it to the end of the season. I think that’s a great shame because there was so much potential there and it was thrown away for something as trivial as not toning down some accents and taking time with the exposition. A real waste.