I have a feeling that poor David Milch wishes he’d chosen a less ironic title for his latest series. The writer/producer hasn’t had a whole lot of luck keeping new shows on the air in recent years. After an incident on set resulted in the death of a third horse, HBO has ceased production and officially canceled the racing drama ‘Luck’.
Milch is of course most famous for his long-running cop series ‘NYPD Blue’. After that, he went on to further success with the HBO hit ‘Deadwood’. Unfortunately, strife behind the scenes led to the abrupt cancelation of that series after its third season, which left a lot of storylines hanging and a lot of fans very upset. Milch’s next show, the baffling ‘John from Cincinnati’, confounded both viewers and critics, and barely eked through a single season on the air.
Nevertheless, Milch continued his relationship with HBO. For ‘Luck’, he teamed up with A-List filmmaker Michael Mann and assembled a powerhouse cast including big names like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon. As I said in my recap of the pilot episode, I was intrigued by the show but also found its plotting excessively confusing and its tone emotionally chilly. I had a feeling that it would have trouble attracting an audience. Indeed, that turned out to be the case. Ratings for the series have been lackluster. Regardless, HBO decided to renew it for a second season anyway.
The network and the show’s producers claim that they worked with the American Humane Association to monitor the safety of horses used in the production. Despite this, three horses sustained injuries either during filming or behind-the-scenes, and had to be put down. In the latest incident, a horse unexpectedly reared up, fell over backwards, and hit its head on the ground while being walked back to its stable. The equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board claims that, “We see several of those injuries at the stable area every year… They are more common than people realize.” Needless to say, that wasn’t enough to placate PETA activists, who accused the production of having lax safety standards and using unfit animals.
Initially, HBO suspended filming of any scenes involving horses, but allowed production to continue on dramatic scenes that did not require animals. However, the network issued a statement late Wednesday that all further production has been shut down and the series will not continue.
The show’s first season had already completed production and still has two episodes left to air. At the time of this writing, they are still scheduled for March 18th and 25th respectively.
[Source: Los Angeles Times]