Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

The Death of 'Luck'

Thompson on Hollywood By Terry Curtis Fox | Thompson on Hollywood March 26, 2012 at 1:00AM

What happened in "Luck"'s last two episodes is that Hoffman and Farina's characters had something to do of consequence. Farina stopped being a chauffeur and started being a tough guy who could see what others cannot. We finally knew why Hoffman kept him around.
4
Luck, HBO

[Spoilers below]

A subsidiary character was killed at the end of episode seven of "Luck," and with his death and subsequent dumping into the ocean at the opening of the following episode, the show came roaring to life.

And then, less than two weeks before this episode aired, the real-life death of a horse sent the show to a quick and untimely death.

The insertion of the crime drama into the show raised the awful question as to whether network executives are right. Do we really worry about "stakes," about "life and death?" Are we stuck with law, medicine, and death-dealing fantasy as our only genres? Dick Francis always put a mystery in his racetrack novels. Did David Milch need to do the same?

(The show’s cancellation will doubtless raise other questions about executive decisions; given that I can only speculate, I’ll leave that to others.)

Stripped of the pure quality of the writing and directing of those last two shows (the eighth by John R. Perrotta & Jay Hovdey, directed by Allen Coulter; the finale by co-exec Eric Roth, directed by Mimi Leder), what we have is material far more familiar then the racetrack stories that led up to here: a gangster going out of control, a rival not willing to let things go, an assassination attempt.

This is pure genre story-telling, albeit of the highest order.  The tension is palpable and contagious -- suddenly the racetrack stories are more meaningful, as if by pure proximity they gained risk.

But as this new story progressed, it became clear that it wasn't the genre elements that had given the series the lift it so desperately needed.

It was that this story finally put Dustin Hoffman's Ace Bernstein and Dennis Farina's Gus Demitriou at the show's center, where they truly belong.

Hoffman and Farina's connection to the track had been tenuous at best: Hoffman got out of prison in the pilot, had Farina front for him in buying a horse, and wanted to link the track with casino gambling.

But his life doesn't depend on any of this, not the way Nick Nolte's owner/trainer (another character who really flourishes in the season's final episodes) did, nor any of the jockeys, trainers, vets, and gamblers.

What happened in the last two episodes is that Hoffman and Farina's characters had something to do of consequence. Farina stopped being a chauffeur and started being a tough guy who could see what others cannot. We finally knew why Hoffman kept him around.

And Hoffman himself had moral choices to make of enormous consequence. It wasn’t his wealth or past that was driving him – it was his sense of obligation and will to stay in the game.

And that balance -- that central placement of Hoffman, Farina, and Nolte at the show's center -- suddenly made things right.

"Luck" turned out to be one of those shows that needed its first season to find its voice. Sadly, just as it found it, it was gone, as surely as "Deadwood." While I doubt that "Luck" will be mourned in the same way, these last two episodes make me very sad not to know where the show was going.

This article is related to: HBO, Television, TV, Critics, Reviews, Reviews


E-Mail Updates