HBO News Blog

Opinion: We’re All Out of LUCK

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 16, 2012 to HBO News

Today, Jef chimes in with his thoughts on the recent cancellation of HBO’s new series: Luck.  We’re all sorry for the animals that lost their lives and some of us are even more sorry we wont get to see Nick Nolte and Dustin Hoffman on HBO next year (or won’t we, HBO?)  Here are his thoughts on the recent string of bad news.  Feel free to respond with your own opinions below in the comments!

I am not a horseman or a racetrack junkie but, I am a viewer of HBO’s LUCK.  Why?  Because I enjoy watching good shows that can take me to a milieu that I am unfamiliar with and though its storytelling give me a feel for what that world is all about.  Despite all the numbers and critic comments attached to the start of LUCK and an early greenlight for a season 2, I didn’t think this show shot out of the gate as anything brilliant.  However, it was growing on me.

Some of the best co-stars, and this is no lie, are the horses and the way the different characters reacted to their presence, whether they were close to the horses in the stalls or just viewing them through the lens of binoculars.  They are beautiful and elegant animals.   Now, I admittedly do not know what happened on set to the three equines that were killed during production, but I don’t need to know to feel it was needless loss.  I had speculated elsewhere on this site that they were racetrack related accidents. Maybe the boom mikes, lighting instruments and multiple cameras on dollys, trucks and ziplines confused and startled these animals into unpredictable behavior that cased injury and worse.  This last incident was a rearing horse not even near the track but could still have been around people and objects it wasn’t used to being around.  I hope somewhere down the line we hear the results of the investigation.

However, having said all that, I am not sure that LUCK needed to be cancelled.  Clearly some issues of safety and care for all living participants of the production are of importance.  Surely, under scrutiny they can be addressed. So a second season comes to air a little later than planned.  If filming the horses at the track is a danger than there are plenty of alternatives to get around the problem. Some good ones have already been mentioned on HBOWatch. How about stock footage of horse races?  I’m sure there is even footage of races at the Santa Anita Racetrack that could be used. Since there were multiple outcomes in handling this situation it seems surprising that cancelation came so quick.  Are there some other underlying issues yet brought to the surface?

I am not clear, beyond pressure from animal rights advocacies, why David Milch opted to end the show.  Was the truth that he was not able to say without certainty that accidents would/could not occur in the future a strong enough reason to end the project?  Are we, perhaps, going to hear something from Dustin Hoffman or Nick Nolte that sheds some light?  Regardless of what is said in the weeks to come all involved do not want the reputation of allowing cruelty on the set.  I suppose it is already possible that HBO, Milch & company and maybe, individual handlers could see lawsuits from this.  That is all entanglements HBO wants to avoid; especially since the channel has other productions that utilize animals.  Might this incident be a reminder to productions that the Humane Society is on staff on all productions for a reason and they are apparently doing their job?

What next?  Well, it seems hopeful that David Milch still sees a future with HBO.  That’s good. I wouldn’t be surprised if the likes of Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina or Jason Gedrick reappear some time as well.  As for Dustin Hoffman, well, in my opinion, I don’t see him tackling just any series commitment any time soon.  I do, however, like the long shot odds that he finds a juicy biopic under the HBO FILMS banner down the line.

Well, enough of that stream-of-consciousness rant. Here is one more opportunity to express your thoughts; feel free to comment as our LUCK runs out.

  • I’m sure you’re right. There were other factors involved here as I’m certain they looked at all the alternatives before going so far as to cancel. I wonder if we’ll ever know the real story?

  • michael

    I am so disappointed that HBO has canceled this show. When you can have actors like Nick Nolte and Dustin Hoffman have such interesting characters and deliver such a good performances it is wonder why HBO would cancel the show..

    • Jefd

      MICHAEL >> I can only speculate on three reasons why LUCK was finally cancelled.

      1) HBO caught enough flack & outcry from animal-rights groups and horse lovers to make it feel that the series would have a bad shadow of controversy over it every season thereafter.

      2) Enough of the Santa Anita staff or handlers or horse owners were going to derail production because of their loss.

      3) Maybe, Dustin Hoffman said enough is enough.










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