FOR writer David Milch, a TV series’ early demise always leaves something ‘‘ bitter in the cup’’.
With Luck, the horseracing drama he and director Michael Mann fashioned together, the dregs were unlike any other.
Luck, a high-profile project featuring Dustin Hoffman in his first series role, was cancelled after the deaths of three horses provoked an outcry from animal activists and a wave of bad publicity for cable network HBO.
In an industry that usually avoids using the painful word ‘‘ cancellation’’, let alone dwelling on the details, Milch and Mann are doing just that to address what they contend are uninformed criticisms about how horses were treated in the making of Luck.
Milch’s reflections are also telling about HBO’S unfamiliarity with racing and what he calls its ‘‘ innocence’’ about the risks of using fragile, highly strung thoroughbreds.
While he and Mann tried to persuade HBO to stick with Luck, Milch says the channel’s decision is understandable.
Two horses were put down after suffering fractures while running, while a third was euthanised after it slipped and suffered a head injury.
HBO ended second-season production on Luck in midMarch, after the third death. The season-one finale ran on March 25. In Australia the first season of Luck airs on Sundays on Foxtel’s Showcase.
Milch said their production was committed to the ‘‘ strictest protocols and safety procedures anywhere in the equine world’’.
The shock waves have gone beyond TV, focusing attention on racehorse injuries and deaths. Luck, Showcase, Sunday, 6.35pm Scratch that: starring Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Farina, fell foul of bad publicity.