I’ve been watching a 2011 television series called Luck. It stars Dustin Hoffman as recently released mobster Chester “Ace” Bernstein and his subtle plots for vengeance against those who conspired against him.
The first six episodes are astonishingly good. Great. Other than some audio problems requiring closed-captioning to understand the principal characters it is, in my opinion, one of the best series I’ve ever seen. Then came the seventh episode. Something happened. Something went wrong. Why? How? Let’s get into it.
The Seventh Episode of Luck
Luck starts the seventh episode with a bizarre recap of the story leading up to current events. It’s narrated in great detail and continues on for an abnormally long time. I sat there shaking my head, they haven’t done recaps before, who is the narrator, what is going on here? What prompted this?
Then the episode started. It wasn’t exactly like watching a different show but then again, it kind of was exactly like watching a different show. The characters, the actors, the sets, all pretty much the same but not.
Early on a kid appears out of nowhere and the veterinarian helps him but there’s no explanation, what’s going on? Then there is a big poker tournament out of nowhere. A rather gratuitous sex scene. Yes, there were sex scene before, but they furthered the story. The music is really obtrusive now, it was subtle before, enhancing, not telling me how to feel.
The actors aren’t speaking with nuance anymore, they’re saying directly only what was implied before. The kid scene spirals into inexplicable behavior by all parties. The old jockey is in an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting but it’s short. All the scenes are short, abrupt, whereas before they took a leisurely pace, slowly unfolded.
We’ve got a plethora of up-close head shots, every scene has them. We didn’t have that before, did we?
It’s not terrible but it’s not what it once was. What happened?
The Investigation of Luck
So, as the episode is rolling, I’m getting pretty distressed. I look it up. What could possibly have happened? During the filming of the Luck, during the seventh episode in particular, horses were injured and had to be put down. Horses were stopped from running while an investigation took place. Eventually HBO cancelled the series although not before the season was complete and a couple of episodes from a planned season two filmed.
It’s impossible to determine exactly what happened during the investigation to alter the flow of the show but it’s pretty clear to me, people knew it was the end. Probably more than a few people felt terrible about the deaths of the horses and no longer had their heart in the show. It is quite apparent. The editing, the writing, the music, nothing from the seventh episode of Luck is up to the standard of the first six.
I haven’t watched the final two episodes, maybe it hits it stride again after the shocking death of the horses. We’ll see. I’d like to know from anyone else who watched the show, did you immediately detect the change in tone of the seventh episode?
The entire thing demonstrates to me the effort required to make a show great. There are so many moving parts. Acting, directing, editing, music, costumes, sets, and more. Making a great show requires everything be exceptional. Making a good show is a lot easier. Luck shows the difference.