March 14, 2012

THE SKED: No “Luck”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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HBO has just announced the abrupt end of production on LUCK, which will not be back for the ordered second season.  The announced cause of the cancellation is the recent death of a horse involved with the show, the 3d horse to die in the course of Luck‘s production.  A veterinarian’s statement didn’t suggest that the horse’s death had anything to do with Luck per se–apparently the horse reared on her way back to the stable and sadly fell in such a way that she seriously struck her head. Yesterday there had been a report that Luck would go on while foregoing any more scenes involving horses, but given that the show’s setting and virtually all of its plot involved the training and racing of horses, this would have drastically altered the series.

The death of this and the other horses is, of course, tragic, and PETA attacked the show’s producers for what they called sloppy oversight and the use of unfit horses.  Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be a little cynical about HBO’s decision.   Luck‘s ratings were dreadfully bad for such a high-profile show:  last week’s episode could only reach a 0.014 rating in 18-49s, and the episode’s initial broadcast was watched by fewer than 500,000 people.  It was also extremely expensive, with such high-priced talent as Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, David Milch and Michael Mann attached, and no real prospect of reducing costs for Season 2.  HBO had taken the risk of announcing the 10-episode Season 2 order immediately after the show’s premiere, which turned out to be its highest-rated episode, and was in the position of hoping for Hail Mary Emmy nominations (in a category now crowded by Downton Abbey and Homeland) to justify its return.  Did the network seize the controversy as a (relatively) inexpensive way to get out of a costly commitment?   We’ll probably never know. 
For now, let’s just hope that, knowing a 2d season had already been ordered, Luck didn’t indulge itself in a season-ending cliffhanger on March 25 that will now never be resolved. 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."