Rihanna's "surprisingly slutty" London Fashion Week debut sure was something, right? Her River Island collaboration was widely panned by critics, though if you smoke a ton of weed, the feeling of a breeze gently flirting with your exposed belly button and fondling your upper thighs probably feels soooooo goooood guuuuuys. I don't know, the fishnet tank and mid-calf skirt ensemble sort of spoke to me. I picture it paired with a vinyl burgerpurse and a bra that has googly eyes over the nipples. I also can't argue with the merits of the interrupted overalls or the sheer apron-front Sexy Amish Coroner frock. It's called peacocking, you amateurs. Learn it.
Reunited and it feels so good! I drove straight from LAX to the Grantland studio to tape a very special, guest-filled edition of the podcast with my coast-traitor pal, "Hollywood" Chris Ryan. We went back and forth on The Walking Dead season finale, even roping in Staff Zombieologist David Jacoby to defend his favorite show. We also talked about the sudden euthanization of Luck and then recruited fellow Grantlander David Cho to preview the new season of Mad Men and discuss the rebirth of Nas and the potential song of the summer. Erika Christiansen: Call your agent! We’re about to make you re-famous.
We're not sure what we expected Weird Horse, Twitter's leading demented philosopher-steed, to say about the unexpected cancellation of Luck precipitated by the unfortunate deaths of three of his equine brethren, but we were vaguely hoping for some kind of spiritual guidance during this difficult time.
When a horse is catastrophically injured, the protocol is simple: The horse needs to be put down. But with a TV show, things are rarely so straightforward. Or so it seemed. Late yesterday afternoon, hours after suspending production on the second episode of the second season of its racetrack saga Luck because of yet another animal fatality, HBO euthanized the show entirely. The move comes as a shock to industry watchers used to HBO cleaning up its messes off the air with the brutal elegance of a highly paid assassin (just ask Entourage producer Doug Ellin, who this month had two high-profile projects disappear into the Meadowlands), as well as to ornery co-star Nick Nolte — or at least it will when he fully processes the information sometime around 2015.
It goes without saying that an unsafe work environment for living beings of any species is more than enough reason to reconsider any endeavor — especially considering that the notoriously shy folks at PETA were likely to make Luck’s set more unpleasant than executive producer David Milch armed with a Louisville Slugger ever could. (Although it is a bit strange given that actual horse racing is far more fatal than pretend horseracing. Perhaps it’s evidence that Richard Kind’s performance was amazingly accurate: Jockey agents somehow have lower standards than even their famously noxious Hollywood counterparts.) But it hasn’t stopped trade vultures (and Vulture) from suggesting that other, non-equine issues factored into the decision, citing Luck’s anemic ratings (it’s averaging a late-night-rerun-of-House Hunters International-esque 500,000 viewers per episode) and behind-the-scenes beefing. As if galloping to the moral high ground were actually just a conscientious cover-up of what was really a bottom-line decision.
Old pals and avid TV watchers Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan return for a second edition of their small-screen-centered podcast. Topics broached this time around include Smash, Luck, Downton Abbey, whether horror can play on television, and if NBC is still cool — and why that does or doesn’t matter. Greenwald and Ryan would also like to apologize in advance to actor Josh Lucas and his attorneys.
It’s standard practice for television shows set in unfamiliar milieus to provide what are referred to as “POV characters.” Think Tim/Jim in either version of The Office, or a pre-preggo Peggy Olson on Mad Men: sympathetic newbies whose encounters with confusing, contextual insanity mirrors the audience’s. Luck is a show that takes viewers deeply inside the world of horses in a way not usually possible without a large animal veterinarian and an elbow-length latex glove. Knowledge of the intricacies and rhythms of the racetrack are assumed. Relationships between characters are unexplained. Foreign accents are cartoonish and unintelligible. So you’d think a little extra narrative help might be provided. And yet, two episodes into its first season, Luck offers no understanding audience surrogates or even a friendly trail of hay to follow.
HBO has already committed to a second season of the horse-racing drama Luck, which is good news for the type of person who prefers to watch TV and never know exactly what’s happening. This is a person like myself (I continue to defend John From Cincinnati). I enjoy viewing scenarios that are simultaneously active and passive — “active” in the sense that the story is detailed and engrossing and idea-driven, but “passive” in the sense that what I’m trying to absorb is so dense and obtuse that the plot mechanics evaporate into an incomprehensible wall of propulsive dialogue. (As such, my favorite 2011 screenplay was Margin Call.) There’s nothing more relaxing than concentrating on the unfathomable. However, I don’t think this trait is common. The debut of Luck was watched by “only” 1.1 million viewers, which makes it about four times less popular than Boardwalk Empire and six times less popular than that zombie show. Moreover, the social traction of high-end television seems to be most accurately judged by the degree to which people are talking about it in public. And I just don’t hear people talking about Luck. I assume it’s big news in the world of degenerate gamblers, but those people are not reliable sources for TV gossip (this is partially because they are constantly pawning their televisions).
Did you miss Andy Greenwald's review of HBO's Luck back in December, following the show's sneak preview? Now that the series has officially premiered, here's another chance to see what he had to say about David Milch and Michael Mann's serialized love letter to the racetrack. But, you know, a macho love letter.
Movies are no country for old men. Or old anything, really: women, dogs, even Spider-Men. And so one of the instant pleasures of Luck, HBO’s new prestige drama that premieres in January but sneak-previewed last night, was watching hungry lions like Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte shake off the indignity of paycheck sequels and tabloid benders and roar and stomp like the bad old days. Even below the fold, David Milch’s horseracing series is packed with more well aged hams than a Barcelona tapas bar, from veteran mustache Dennis Farina to grizzled “that guys” Kevin Dunn, Richard Kind and John Ortiz. Even onetime heartthrob Jason Gedrick is on-board, though, at 46, he looks less like a teen idol and more like the sort of no-hoper who might stalk and murder one. All this experience and all these wrinkles add an immediate gravitas to a show about racetrack desperation set in one of those seedily picturesque parts of California they don’t show you on the postcards. Future episodes promise appearances by other talents pushed past their Hollywood sell-by date, including the ferocious Joan Allen and the immortal Michael Gambon. If nothing else, Luck is guaranteed to showcase more ravenous dinosaurs than Fox’s Terra Nova.