Television in America is ruled by the ratings. New shows are launched all the time, and some will disappear within a few weeks, if the networks feel that the ratings are not at the level they expected. Some networks are hastier than others, and where Fox might (and has) cancel a show after just two or three episodes, HBO gives their shows the chance to prove themselves. A show like True Blood took a while to find its audience, before eventually getting regular viewing figures of around 5 million, and is a show that may have been cancelled had it been on another network.
Luck premiered last December on HBO, and its pilot episode drew over 1 million viewers. Almost as soon as the pilot episode was shown again in January to properly being the series, HBO announced that it had been renewed for a second season. But since then, the ratings have been less than impressive. The number has hovered around the 500,000 mark, a very low number for a network will almost 30 million subscribers. And to be honest, it’s not really a surprise that people aren’t latching on to the show and spreading the word about it.
Luck is not an easy show to fall in love with. The plots are slow-paced and complicated, and most of the characters have little to like about them. Nick Nolte’s aging trainer Walter seems like a good man, but he’s hardly someone who is going to keep people glued to their TV sets when he is on-screen. The biggest draw for Luck was getting Dustin Hoffman to star as Ace Bernstein, but although ace would appear to be the lynchpin of the show, the episodes so far have never made him the main focus, preferring to further the stories of other characters, most played by less recognisable actors.
Talking of which, after Ronnie injured himself riding Walter’s horse Gettin’ Up Morning, Walter has re-enlisted Rosie to ride for him, and the episode opens with her getting the chance to get in the saddle and race. After the race is done, Walter is concerned that his horse is bleeding from the nose, but is re-assured by a vet that it is not a big problem. When the show does get back to Ace, he’s meeting with Mike on Mike’s yacht, and they are discussing business. It’s clear that the relationship between Ace and Mike has changed since Ace’s spell in jail, and their meeting is tense. Afterwards, Ace meets Claire (Joan Allen), and it seems like he is drawn to her, rather than the charity she represents. Jerry is gambling again, and his friends are desperately trying to stop him from losing all his money, and are forced to lie in order to get him away from a game where he is losing big but can’t stop himself from losing more.
So episode 4 is much like the first three episodes. There’s a little more information, a little more progression of the multiple plot-lines, but little to really draw you in. There are no cliff-hanger endings, and not a whole lot to get people talking about the show. HBO seem happy to back the show, but if it doesn’t make some progress soon, that second season may never actually happen.