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First Review of Entire Season of HBO Santa Anita series 'Luck'

Father would have been impressed with gorgeous horse racing footage in HBO's new series.

My father took our family to a movie in 1969 starring Steve McQueen called The Reivers, which featured slow-motion scenes of horses racing Dad thought represented some of the most impressive cinematography he had ever seen.

I think he would have thought the same about the powerful scenes of horse racing at in the upcoming HBO series which will air Sundays at 9 p.m. beginning Jan. 29.

Series creator, writer and executive producer David Milch, a longtime race horse owner and self-described near-obsessive track bettor, has a reverence for Santa Anita that is conveyed visually in the pilot and throughout each of the nine episodes of the series.

HBO broadcast a sneak preview of the one-hour pilot last month.

While some critics and viewers felt the pilot was a little slow, I have had a chance to view all nine episodes and recommend watching several of the episodes before deciding whether to stick with the series.

The pilot's second hour ramps up considerably, even if Luck is not The Sopranos. (Although, mob-like violence does creep in during later episodes, when , who is released from prison in the pilot's first scene, becomes entangled with a yacht-residing rival played by Michael Gambon.)

The momentum of the mid-series episodes tends to slow somewhat before picking up again in the season's final episodes. As the season progresses, high-profile actors, such as Joan Allen, join the cast. Her role as a persistent horse welfare activist (a la Bo Derek) and her motivation remain vague, but she appears to become a potential romantic interest for Hoffman's Ace.

Another actor given ample screen time in episodes subsequent to the pilot is locally-based Hall of Fame former jockey Gary Stevens (Seabiscuit), whose story arc carries him through a recurrence of his battle with alcoholism that threatens his career. Stevens displays an impressive and extensive range of acting skills that his prior roles had not allowed for.

The running time of each “hour-long” episode can vary by as much as 20-minutes, from about 45-minutes to the 66-minute finale.

Luck premieres on HBO on Jan. 29 at 9 p.m.

Read more on this topic by Scott Hettrick and see an 85-second video of his interviews with Hoffman and Mann at ArcadiasBest.com.

Hettrick's City Views blog is not intended to reflect any position of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, where he is Executive Director.About this column:

Longtime Arcadia blogger and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Hettrick takes a weekly insider's look at the people, issues and events that make Arcadia a unique Southern California city.

T Simon January 20, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Will not watch because I don't have HBO, but will follow the story and comments.
matt newman January 31, 2012 at 01:30 AM
This is a review of Episode 2 from HBO's Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, http://www.thedesplainescasino.com/?p=1827.

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