I was not, and perhaps still not, a huge fan of HBO’s LUCK. But maybe it’s my hope springs eternal nature, or just plain curiosity that has kept me coming back.
As a horse person, I have been annoyed at the total portrayal of desperation of every speaking character in the show. The complexities are so totally dark and deranged. Every last person is tortured in some way. But last night’s episode showed a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Several things caught my attention. First, the deftness with which the vet retracted the scope, post-race (Now I KNOW she didn’t insert it) but she looked very professional. Adding to that, the look into the scope gave the viewers something that only people on the back side get to see. So it was actually educational.
Next, and perhaps the best scene of the night was when the 3 of the 4 pick six winners were in the shedrow, excited to feed carrots to their newly acquired horse. It was the first time there was true innocence and humility on anyone’s face since I’ve been watching the show. The reactions revealed that maybe the bustouts actually have a heart and a soul. Naturally, the horse brought it out.
As I said from the first episode, the casting is perfect. Gary Steven’s acting ability is superb. True, he’s playing a jock, so he has a lot to pull from. But he is genuine. And John Ortiz (Escalante), though diabolical, and the last trainer in the Universe that you would give a horse to, has channeled his character perfectly. Nick Nolte plays the tortured trainer (Walter) with angst and pure emotion. The gamblers are a group of misfits. They are so different from each other, my guess is, and Milch figured every gambler on the planet could relate in part, to some aspect of their degeneracy.
People should know that this is a snapshot of racetrack life according to Milch. He has captured the tortured and desperate human failings of “everyman” with the backdrop of our great game that is horseracing. He is obviously very good at what he does. But I have my doubts that it will create any new wagering dollars, new horse owners or any new fans. But I also know that that was surely not anyone’s objective when this concept was created.
The characters in” Luck” started out about as low as they could go, maybe there’s no place to go but up?