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Luck: The Complete First Season(TV) (2011-2012)
A TV series centered around characters who are tied to the same horse-racing track.
For more about Luck: The Complete First Season and the Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Michael Gambon, John Ortiz, Jill Hennessy
Directors: Michael Mann (I), Terry George, Allen Coulter, Phillip Noyce, Brian Kirk, Henry Bronchtein
» See full cast & crew
Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
A promising series put out to pasture long before its prime...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 10, 2012
Luck seemed like a sure bet. Backed by a star-studded cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon (among others), helmed by master filmmaker Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) and award-winning television producer David S. Milch (Hills Street Blues, Deadwood), and renewed for a second season before HBO had even aired its second episode, there were few who thought HBO's latest hour-long original drama series was going anywhere. Just three dead horses later, though, and Luck had depleted its namesake, becoming one of the only shows in television history to be suspended and summarily canceled in response to accusations of animal cruelty. But no matter the cause, cancellation is cancellation, and begs the question: does the first season work and, more importantly, satisfy as a complete series? If so, is it worth watching at this point? Or does it end so abruptly and leave so many unresolved questions and storylines in its nine-episode wake that it would be better left sitting on the shelf?
This is your son. I hope to God you can see him. Or hear me. Anyways, he's your son. God, I hope you know that because I can barely stand to look at him day after day because he reminds me so much of you and it breaks my heart 'cause he runs like you, he moves like you, he's got such a big heart just like you had. I don't think I could lose two of you. I couldn't bear it.
Your enjoyment of Luck will depend entirely on what you're looking for. Uniformly riveting performances? Hoffman and his co-stars deliver, and then some. A compelling premise? Complete with mesmerizing, slowburn scripts? Again, the series delivers, and without exception. Unfortunately, you can all but sense and see the ax cut through Luck when it falls. The show's untimely end leaves so much to be desired that it robs the nine episodes that precede it of much of their power and weight. Imagine cracking a novel only to realize a third of the way through that someone has torn out the last half of the book. Imagine being introduced to a cast of characters so intriguing, so fully realized and so unique to television that they feel positively cinematic and yet grounded in a well-crafted reality that demands further exploration. Imagine a series rendered obtuse and ambiguous, not by its choosing but by a brutal twist of fate. It closes on a big race high, sure, but there's just too much unfinished business a second season would most certainly address in kind. So goes Luck, a magnificently scripted, performed and shot HBO series that suddenly collapses onto the track and never crosses the finish line.
Luck: The Complete First Season Episode Guide:
Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
I've no such complaints when it comes to HBO's Blu-ray release of Luck: The Complete First Season, which is as complete and satisfying as it is potent, proficient and worth every penny. Lukas Strebel's dusty period palette may not indulge in primary punch or vivid splashes of color, but the aged hues, lifelike skintones, brushed earthtones and natural shadows that mark his cinematography are quite stunning. Detail is impeccable too, barring the usual bouts of acceptably filmic softness. Closeups are outstanding, with revealing, crisply resolved fine textures. Edges are clean and nicely defined, without any serious halos or significant ringing. (Key words: serious and significant. Eagle-eyed videophiles will still notice several minor instances.) And delineation is exactly as Strebel and Milch intended, free of troublesome crush and ungainly distraction. In fact, artifacting, banding, aliasing and the like are nowhere to be found, and the only unfortunate anomalies I noticed were inherent to the series' slow-motion mid-race shots. Simply put, Luck's high definition presentation doesn't disappoint.
Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The bugle call. The anxious crowds. The thunder of race horses bursting out of the starting gate. The cheers, the groans, the desperation and the thrill, nothing escapes Luck's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which is pound for pound, stride for stride, every bit as impressive as HBO's video presentation. Dialogue is clear, impeccably prioritized and carefully grounded in the mix. LFE output is bold and weighty, granting power, heft and presence to everything that demands it, however subtle or deafening. Rear speaker activity is aggressive and immersive, with pinpoint directional effects, absorbing cross-channel pans and a soundfield as enveloping as it is convincing. And dynamics are suitably refined and rewarding, supporting any and every effect, hushed or otherwise, that graces the series' simmering soundscape. Luck's lossless track barrels ahead even as the series nears its ill-fated end.
Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Luck: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Had Luck not fallen victim to unfortunate circumstance, it's quite possible the series would be mentioned in the same breath as Boardwalk Empire for years to come. Hoffman, Farina, Nolte, Gambon and, really, everyone in the cast, no matter how large or small a role, deliver powerful performances, and the writing, cinematography, production design, costumes, research and realism are all award-worthy. It's just a shame Luck didn't make it to a second season and beyond. It would've no doubt earned plenty of attention and critical praise had it survived. Thankfully, HBO's Blu-ray release is a survivor. Granted, its supplemental package is a tad light, reasonably informative as it is, but its video encode and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track offer exactly what you'd expect from an HBO AV presentation: the highest quality. The Complete First Season should have been labeled The Complete Series, though, despite the fact that Luck's nine episodes are anything but complete.
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