Good ‘Luck’: Why We’re Hooked on HBO Horse Opera

by | February 26, 2012 at 2:09 PM | HBO, TV News

They're in 'Luck' (clockwise from upper left): Kevin Dunn, Jason Gedrick, Richard Kind, Ritchie Coster (Photos: HBO)

You either enjoy visiting David Milch’s world or you don’t.

I have a feeling that’s how a segment of the TV world — or more specifically, the pool of people who would potentially watch his TV shows — is divided when it comes to this unique producer/writer and his distinctive TV shows.

His newest one is the one called “Luck” on HBO, about a group of people (all fictional) who populate the world of southern California’s Santa Anita Racetrack. His other HBO shows were the late, lamented western series “Deadwood,” which attracted a fiercely loyal following, and the California surfing series “John From Cincinnati,” which did not draw much of a following at all (though it remains one of my favorite TV shows of all time, period).

For that reason, I guess you could place me in the group of people who love spending time in the worlds David Milch creates. They are places unique in television — encompassing a wide variety of characters who all speak in a manner I can only describe as Milchian.

And that’s where writing about Milch gets difficult because to really appreciate the dialogue this guy composes, you really have to hear it recited by his actors. And with “Luck,” that’s the main reason to tune in.

Get a taste of “Luck” with this clip titled “A Day at the Races”:

This series is only four episodes old (with No. 5 due to air Sunday, Feb. 26, at 9/8c on HBO) and I’m already hooked on the peculiar cadence of Milch’s dialogue. And that’s thanks to a cast of actors — some famous, some not — who are doing some of the best work you’ll see anywhere on television right now.

“Luck” is perhaps best known for having attracted Dustin Hoffman to say yes to a TV series. And he’s good in it (although I noted the other day while watching him that his character seems to have adopted the same style of walk as his character of Raymond Babbitt in “Rainman”).

But it’s the supporting cast that’s been astonishing in “Luck,” and I thought I’d just recognize them here, and recommend that you check them out. At the risk of leaving someone out, they are: Jason Gedrick, doing the best work of his career as a down-and-out gambler; Kevin Dunn as a wheelchair-bound gambler and co-owner of a horse; Ritchie Coster (especially him) as another of that horse’s owners; Richard Kind (especially him too) as a stammering hanger-on who acts as an “agent” for jockeys; John Ortiz as a wily horse trainer named Escalante; and even Dennis Farina as the Hoffman character’s henchman.

And by the way, besides the acting, “Luck” contains some of the best, close-up horse-racing sequences ever filmed. HBO has already renewed “Luck” for a second season. You may as well climb aboard.

“Luck” airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO.