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Why We Didn't Bother With the Second Episode of HBO's Barbaric Luck

I was really excited about the new HBO show Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman and created by the brilliant Deadwood scribe David Milch.

But since the show's debut I've been mostly quiet about it, trying to figure out how best to articulate my objections to the series premiere.


I knew of course the show would be dark and feature plenty of evil people doing evil things. Deadwood is filled with horrific scenes and degrading circumstances. But Milch painted his canvas with many colors. Yes, there were some cruel people in Deadwood, but individuals at least struggled with moral questions. Good people did bad things, bad people sometimes redeemed themselves, and by season 3 the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.

But with Luck Milch seems to have limited himself to varying shades of black. Watching the first episode ALL of the characters struck me as unlikable and too broken to inspire me to spend time with them in their seedy world. Only in the glorious racing of the horses did a sense of grace and beauty brighten the degenerate world of compulsive gamblers and career criminals.

And then what do they do? At the end of the pilot a horse breaks its leg on camera and has to be put down.

My wife -- who has first hand experience in horse rescue and animal abuse -- immediately started screeching in horror. Now it turns out that my attempt to remind her that it's just a TV show and no animals were harmed was wrong. Two horses died in the filming of the first season of Luck:

Luck production chiefs rescinded its American Humane Association stamp of approval - which certifies no animals were harmed during the making of the programme - following the show's pilot episode after a horse was euthanized on location.

Prior to filming, network executives at HBO assured officials at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that experts would be on hand to ensure all "necessary safety procedures" were in place, however reports of a second fatality have again prompted activists to worry.

I'm not an animal rights fanatic or anything. PETA is a terrible, hypocritical Marxist organization as Penn and Teller demonstrated in this legendary episode of Bullsh*t (language warning):

But this news now casts even greater darkness over the show.