Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Horse Racing's New Good Luck Charm?

HBO does TV about as well as anyone.  The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, the shows keep on coming.  HBO's newest venture is Luck, a show starring Dustin Hoffman as a gangster dominating the horse racing world in California.  Horse racing has been struggling for some time; will Luck be the industry's rabbit foot?  Although this is a serious business, I will be judging every scene by whether I see (1) corruption, (2) I can't understand on of the characters or (3) if I see some exciting horse racing/action.

Sunday, 9pm.  The first scene has Dustin Hoffman being released from prison for some unknown crime.  He's picked up by a confidant in a Mercedes, just like someone in organized crime.  Not a good start for the industry, in my view. (1)

Then we are treated to a stables montage follows highlighted by a Pick Six pot of 2.25 million.  Foreshadowing of something, of course. (1)

Nick Nolte looks about 85 years old as he mumbles something about horse racing.  It appears that he is a trainer of a super horse. With his constantly shifting eyes, Nolte definitely looks shady...or he's getting paranoid in his advanced age. (1) (2)

We then meet Escalante and one of the lone women in the show, Jill Hennessey (wasn't she some good looking woman in a show a long time ago? Oh right, Crossing Jordan)  Again, some more shifting eyes from Escalante, although he might have just been giving googly eyes to Hennessey's track veterinarian.  He apparently is another trainer who has difficulty with the English language. (1) (2)

In another character study, Richard Kind seems to be playing some sort of jockey handler or agent who gets pissed off when one of his English jockeys starts mouthing off about how he's going to win big with Esperante's horse, which Esperante does NOT want to be said.  I don't understand why he's given a stutter though, its hard to understand him.  He then notices Nolte's horse and calls some drunken jockey because he thinks the horse is a live mount heading to the Kentucky Derby. (1) (2)

Then we meet the stable of betters that I will call the Curious 4.  Jason Gedrick, who is far removed from his Iron Eagles days, a guy in a wheelchair and oxygen tank, a squealy guys contributes $255 and a fourth guy in a funny looking hat.  We know from the storyline that these guys win that Pick Six that we see at the beginning of the show.  Gedrick appears to be the horse picker as well as the degenerate gambler (the irony).  Gedrick's singles Escalante's horse that he's preparing at the beginning of the show.  This doesn't smell right since you wouldn't single a longshot like that you would includes some sort of protection.  And no, I'm not walking behind the horses.  Meanwhile, Escalante cashes in about $40,000 of winning tickets on his horse "Mon Gateau." (1)

In the defining scene of the first show, Dustin Hoffman rips off his shirt to demonstrate that he's not wearing a wire at a business meeting.  Need I say more?

The horse racing action itself is exciting, the race with Escalante's horse is exciting with the close up angles.  It seems truly authentic.  I wish we saw more of the action and less of Nolte staring at his horse mumbling some nonsense. Although with some of the between races storyline we did get a couple of glimpses of the Danica Patrick of Horse racing, Chantal Sutherland. (3)

As we work our way through the Pick Six, the 8th race is another exciting race, as the English jockey (who seems way too big to be a jockey) rides the longshot who will win the Curious Four $2.7 Million Dollars.  Of course, there is a continuity error here as well.  When we first see the possible payouts, the 5 and 8 horses will win the Curious 4 the most money.  When the race is actually run though, it is the 2 and the 8 horse that will win the most money.  Uh oh. (3)

I enjoyed this movie.  I think it had more to do with the shows authenticity more than the plot or the acting.  If you are unfamiliar with the sport of kings, some of the nuances will get lost on you.  I give the show a thumbs up as things only get better from the pilot.

photo courtesy of tvworthwatching.com

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