October 2, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Lucky 7”


LUCKY 7:  Tuesday 10PM on ABC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on LUCKY 7:  In a Queens, NY auto shop, (almost) all the employees have just hit a $45M lottery jackpot.  However, that hasn’t made their problems go away.  Brothers Matt (Matt Long) and Nicky (Stephen Louis Grush), both in need of money before their win was announced (Matt’s a new dad and Nicky owes money to gangsters), robbed the store and in the process Nicky gave manager Bob (Wendell Pierce) a nasty blow on the head.  Single mom Leanne (Anastasia Phillips) is hiding from someone.  Denise’s (Lorraine Bruce) husband is cheating on her.  Samira’s (Summer Bishil) family is pushing an arranged marriage on her, but she’s attracted to bad boy Nicky.  And Antonio (Luis Antonio Ramos) is the odd man out, the guy who didn’t invest in the lottery pool and is now surrounded by millionaires.

Episode 2:  Lucky 7 had the worst-rated debut of any new network series, bottoming out with a terrible 1.3 (on the same night that began with almost quadruple that rating for Agents of SHIELD), and the lottery-sized odds are that it won’t be around much longer.  For the record, though, the second episode picked up where the pilot had left off, and the script by series creators David Zabel and Jeffrey Richman (based on a British series) didn’t build on the storylines in any way that made the show more viable.

The NYPD, as it turned out, suspected Matt and Nicky of the station robbery immediately, and in a completely ludicrous scene, a detective did everything but electroshock Matt into falsely identifying a ringer in a line-up as the thief in order to force him to confess.  (How one thing was supposed to lead to the other is something only Zabel and Richman could explain.)  Also ridiculous:  no sooner did Nicky convince Samira to go out on a date with him than the tough guys he owed found them sitting on a random bench late at night and beat Nicky up.  To absolutely no one’s surprise except Denise’s, the fact that his wife had hit the lottery didn’t stop Denise’s husband from continuing to cheat on her.  It was unexpected, but not in a good way, that because Bob had been hit on the head, his doctors discovered a brain tumor that otherwise would have gone undiagnosed–so, yay!  We learned Leanne’s secret:  she’d stolen her daughter from the girl’s drug-addicted biological mother, who would no doubt track her down if she saw the news stories about Leanne.  Meanwhile, Antonio managed to impress a visiting TV reporter with his good attitude, and thus his son was no longer ashamed of having a loser for a dad.

Almost none of this was convincing, but the bigger problem was that it wasn’t very interesting, either.  Watching the NYPD detective stalk Matt and Nicky like the brothers were Raskolnikov seemed like a waste of everyone’s time, the crumbums who beat up Nicky seemed to have wandered in from a 1980s cop show (although the Slumdog Millionaire line one of them threw Samira’s way suggested that at least he had good taste in movies), Nicky for his part has little chemistry with Samira, and the Antonio and Bob storylines were just silly.  The one sequence in the episode that featured the lottery winners enjoying their new riches was the biggest cliche in the world, the ten millionth repeat of the shopping sequence in Pretty Woman (complete with the snobby saleswoman who wouldn’t deign to wait on them).  Phillips gave the best performance of the episode, but one dreads where her story may be going.

Lucky 7 isn’t gritty enough to feel realistic in any way (the episode was directed by Stephen Cragg), but it’s also not glossy enough to be a fun wish-fulfillment soap.  The conflicting mix of tones is enough to make one miss the straightforward suds of ABC’s summer soap Mistresses.  Barring a miracle, though, Lucky 7 won’t even get to its titular number of episodes, so it doesn’t bear thinking about for long.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Soon Enough Something Will Be–In Its Timeslot

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."