Before we delve into HBO’s Luck, I need to get some housekeeping out of the way. I wrote about it in a very general way for New York magazine, then asked to recap the first season for Vulture. Luck is a rare TV drama that benefits from wonky auteurist scrutiny, and that’s how I’m going to approach it. I’m fascinated by series creator David Milch and have written extensively about his great western drama Deadwood for the Star-Ledger, The House Next Door, and Salon. I’m also an aficionado of the show’s executive producer and pilot director, Michael Mann. In 2009 I wrote, edited, and narrated a series of video essays about Mann’s film and TV work. As I recap each episode of Luck, I’ll delve into Mann and Milch’s creative histories and sensibilities. I might also break down scenes and sequences in detail and talk about why they succeed or fail. I’m not interested in the details of plot except as they relate to character and theme, and I tend to hop around in an episode’s chronology rather than writing about events in a linear way.
One other thing you should know: HBO sent the whole first season of Luck to critics in December, so bear in mind that when you read my (and others’) recaps, you’re reading observations by people who already know how everything turns out. Beyond urging readers who might be on the fence about Luck to stick around through episode four, where things really start to come together, I’ll try to avoid spoilers, and ask anybody out there who’s seen future episodes to do the same. I plan to delete anything resembling a spoiler from the comments threads and ban anybody who makes a habit of posting them. Them’s the rules.
And … we’re off!
If you would like to read the rest of Matt’s recap of Luck, click here.
A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for New York Magazine and the founder of Press Play.