The cancellation of Luck is old news, but I thought for the sake of future reference I would add some pertinent links to interviews and comments outlining some of the reasons why the show was cancelled – which is primarily because a third horse died on location. This is Michael Mann’s and David Milch’s interview on the subject – click here. An alternative media news viewpoint on the situation can be found by clicking here. There is also the rumour that the horses deaths were just a convenient excuse for HBO executives to cancel the show because of disappointing audience numbers.
After drawing a modest 1.1 million viewers for each of the pilot episode’s two premiere airings, in December and then again in January, Luck has slipped in the ratings, logging 686,000 viewers for its most recent first-run episode.
But perhaps the overriding reason the show was cancelled was because the media decided to have a go at the crew of “Luck” by implying neglect, which showered the entire production with criticism that no public relations could fix. I believe this was Mann’s feeling, which is expressed to his crew when announcing to them the cancellation. In a recorded transcript of his announcement, Mann adds TMZ to the list of those media sites which focussed too heavily on the news of each horse’s death – ignoring the fact that the horse incidents were a product of extremely “unlucky” and uncontrollable circumstances. You can hear Mann’s transcript about this, because TMZ posted it on their website! Find it here. The UK’s Guardian newspaper, not known for it’s generous reviews, made it’s own comments on Luck’s perceived weakness in endearing viewers.
The impact of Luck’s cancellation wasn’t felt just by the production company or fans of the show. It was felt by the horse racing community, many of which felt the show was helping rebuild a fresh sense of appreciation for this pastime, that would bring more people to the races. It’s a well known fact that Santa Anita has had its financial troubles, despite its beauty and history – Luck was a breath of fresh air and income for it. But this was much more than just about Santa Anita. It was about horse racing around the world. For the show’s ambition of cast, budget and the dream team of Milch and Mann, the audience numbers didn’t seem able to make sufficient influential impact, unlike Miami Vice, which literally changed how everyone dressed in the eighties – including me. Yes, I wore an embarrassing white linen Crockett style trousers and jacket to a wedding once, but forgot to do up my fly zip… it was the trauma of being totally uncool whilst trying to look cool. It was terrible. I just loved Miami Vice. Still do! My clothing has been plain ever since.
Horseracing watched both Luck and its “sideshow” with interest. The Paulick report gives some interesting angles on how the horse racing community perceived the show and the circumstances of it’s demise – the views were mixed.
I admit I find it extremely contradictory that the risk assessment for racing horses is deemed acceptable, as dangerous as it is for them, but that somehow filming them race is not ok. The risk assessment goes even higher. I cannot accept that the production company was negligent, knowing the extreme professionalism of these operations. It was a heartbreaking time for crew and fan alike. I proudly own the BluRay set – the ending is sad for different reasons.