The debut season of the David Milch creation continues to build nicely, with the character developments providing enough of a tease for what’s to come.
I had a great call to my home on Sunday night about why certain things took place on the show. Horse racing related questions that I promised I would be able to answer once I had seen the show.
The question was regarding why the character of trainer Turo Escalante (played with an almost defiant ease by John Ortiz) would risk running one of his horses in a claiming race if he didn’t want to lose the horse, and had in fact, put front bandages on the horse in an attempt to steer away prospective bidders.
That’s an age-old tactic in the claiming game -- much like the card games being fancied by Jason Gedrick’s character Jerry, the claiming racket is a lot like poker -- you show your opponent what you have, and you risk losing it all.
The storyline I find myself being most intrigued with is with jockey Leon Micheaux, played quite well by up-and-coming actor Tom Payne, a recent graduate of the world-renowned Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Payne’s ease of handling the difficult lingo of the jockey, and the relationships between trainer (Ortiz) and jockey agent (the amazing Richard Kind) are making his character one to follow.
Interwoven within the storylines of the equine is the slowly developing saga of Dustin Hoffman’s lead role of Chester “Ace” Bernstein’s desire to open a casino on the grounds of Santa Anita Park. There are a great deal more shenanigans sure to come in this plot line, so I would advise some patience here. Once this begins to play itself out, I can see this story and the characters to come in and out of it easily becoming the direct link to the future of this show.
Nick Nolte’s ability to captivate a viewer by merely grunting a few words here and there is simply amazing. Nolte plays the role of hardboots trainer Walter Smith, who has himself quite a runner about to make a splashy debut.
I can’t sit here and tell you that this show is for everyone. I can definitely see where the common viewer would be turned off by the constant imagery of the racetrack crowd being dominated by foul-mouthed, oxygen-inhaling, paranoid, womanizing degenerates rushing to get to the windows before the next race reaches post time.
By that same token, I’m admittedly one of those common viewers who failed to appreciate the storytelling of a family run funeral home in “Six Feet Under“, or the wiry characters on the Baltimore underground of “The Wire”.
Earlier this morning, I came across a story online regarding potential equine accidents during the filming of this show, and how certain special interest groups were coming out of the woodwork to protest the show.
May I please offer a word or two of advice?
Your over-reactionary scare tactics are only going to make matters worse for an industry still coming to terms that “Luck” is not a show created to promote horse racing.
Much in the same way that a majority of the characters in the “The Sopranos” were portrayed as violent, hateful criminals, you’ll notice the show didn’t open with a disclaimer that the mafia supported or endorsed the show.
Whether it happens on a racetrack during an actual race, or during the actions of serving as a prop in a Hollywood production, this is the true definition of reality television.
While tragic, it is also a fact.
If you’re so turned off by it, let me recommend that you shut down the bigscreen while contemplating the crappy programs you let your kids watch. Last time I checked, programs like “Jersey Shore“, “16 And Pregnant“, and “Teen Mom” popularize some of the most decadent behavior in the history of television.
You’re preaching about an animal on a fictional show?? Sure, the human chooses to be made to look like a fool on the reality programs. More the pity that when given the choice to not look less than human, some people still choose the easier route.
We’re two episodes in with “Luck”, and I’m still all in.
I’m happy to see that the show has already been picked up for a second season.
HBO can count on my support for at least one more year.