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HBO's "Luck" Cancelled on Account of Horse Deaths

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | March 15, 2012 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | March 15, 2012 |

“Luck” had all the hallmarks of a show that we could watch for two seasons on HBO and then lament that we didn’t get more. It had great actors, it had David Milch, there was a bit of a seedy underworld vibe going on. Then it didn’t pick up that much of an audience, although HBO admirably announced that there would be a second season anyway. And then horses started dying like a glue factory had paid off some of the extras. Now it’s officially cancelled, no second season, do not pass go. The first two episodes of the second season had been finished, which will now be tacked on to the end of the first season. Though given that they are already done, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of closure. Unless they can still be edited, in which case Milch should make the final scene a cliffhanger just to go down swinging.

Says HBO:

It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series Luck. Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horseracing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision. We are immensely proud of this series, the writing, the acting, the filmmaking, the celebration of the culture of horses, and everyone involved in its creation.

During filming of the first season, two horses were injured badly enough to be euthanized, which prompted HBO to bring in the American Humane Association to supervise animal handling. A third horse was put down in the last week, reportedly when it unexpectedly reared and struck its head while being returned to its stable.

It’s important to emphasize that there has been no suggestion that the production is suspected of wrongdoing, or irresponsibility, and it seems to have been nothing but an absolutely tragic run of bad luck, regardless of how eye-rolling the pun is.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.