Fall 2013 Review: Lucky 7

13 Nov

Four of the Lucky 7

Here’s the only thing you really need to know about Lucky 7: ABC has outdone most TNT and USA titles by conceiving of a title achieves the rare triple pun (for another example, see the album cover for Rush’s “Moving Pictures“). First, Lucky 7 applies to the titular group of seven employees who win the lottery (actually six do, and one doesn’t technically, but they’re still the seven described in the title). Second, it’s a reference to the 7 train which goes through Queens, where the show takes place. Third, seven is the final digit of the six numbers that the group plays in their weekly lottery pool, which wins them the jackpot. So, there. If you want to stop reading now, you now know the best thing about the show, the triple pun title.

Moving on. Because the show takes place in an outer borough rather than Manhattan, the seven are real New Yorkers, and not urban hipsters or bankers. You can tell because they have extremely noticeable accents.  The seven main characters work together at a gas station, in different roles. They are:

Bob – the boss, played by the only particularly well-known member of the cast, Isiah Whitlock, who played The Wire’s Clay Davis. He and his wife are looking forward to his retirement but doesn’t have the funds.

Antonio – a hard-working Hispanic mechanic had been saving away his lottery money instead of putting it into the pool as the most responsible member of the cast. When his responsible decision making is not rewarded, he seems to take it relatively well considering he’s still poor while his friends are all instant millionaires.

Denise – she works in the store and is worried that her husband is cheating on her after finding out that he’s sent hudnreds of text messages to a number she doesn’t recognize. She’d rather not find out the truth and she feels guilty because she’s gained a lot of weight since their marriage. On a subjective note, I found her accent extremely irritating.

Mary – a young mother who is struggling to provide for her daughter. She works in the store.

Nicky – an ex-con having somewhat of a hard time staying straight. He has a thing for Samira (who we’ll get to in a moment).

Matt – Nicky’s law-abiding brother. He’s living with his pregnant wife in his mom’s house, which is driving his wife crazy.

Samira – she’s a Julliard student with an incredibly stereotypical Indian dad who claims Julliard is useless compared to math or medicine and tries to set her up with Indian guys.

So basically,  they win the lotto towards the end of the episode, which we all know is going to happen because it’s the premise of the show (how great would it have been though if they didn’t win, and everything in the trailers about the premise was just a lie). The major plotline apart from simply winning the lotto involves the brothers. Nicky, who needs money to pay off some old criminal associates, convinces Matt, who desperately needs money to move out, to stage a fake robbery of the gas station store. Nicky will wear a ski mask and rob Matt, working at the register, and the insurance will take care of the loss. As you might guess, this does not go as planned.

This sequence contains of my least favorite narrative devices. Nicky suggest pulling off the robbery to Matt, who immediately turns him down, which is exactly how he should and would react as a non-criminal who has never considered robbery as an acceptable option at any point in his life, no matter how easy or potentially foolproof. However, right after Matt turns his brother down initially, his wife, who just gave birth, warns him that she’s going to move out to her sister’s place until he can get them a place of their own, because his mother is awful to her. All of a sudden, with that one new piece of information, Matt’s in for the fake robbery. I get it, the writers have done their due diligence, and checked off the “motivation” checkbox by letting us know how desperate a situation Matt is in, vis-a-vis his wife moving out temporarily. And credit for at least checking it off, but it still feels lazy, easy, and not convincing that this law abiding citizen would agree to commit a pretty serious crime a minute after learning this extremely disheartening, but not life-threatening news.

Anyway, they attempt the crime, but it all goes awry when Bob walks in, and Nicky hits him over the head as a quick reaction move, putting Bob in the hospital with serious injuries. We don’t know for sure from the events in this episode, but we’re certainly led to believe that the police are going to be pretty suspicious about this potential fishy inside job pretty quickly.

The only other major plot element of this episode was that, since Matt borrowed money to joint the lottery pool the week they won, the other lottery winners have to vote on whether or not he gets a share. This seems beyond shady to be. It basically means that, according to this rule, if they lose, he still owes the money, but if he wins, he might not get it. That makes no sense and I’m curious if it’s actual lottery policy, but not quite curious enough to look it up. A just awake Bob casts the tie-breaking vote to give Matt his share after the other four are deadlocked.

I forgot to mention there’s a flashforward at the very beginning of the episode in which the brothers are being chased by the cops and one of them ends up throwing a whole bunch of money out of the car, and says something to the effect of that it was the money that caused all their problems.  Did I also mention how ridiculously tired I am of flashforwards?

It’s not a good show. There’s a good premise lurking there underneath everything, and definite points for ethnic diversity, but demerits for the ethnic stereotyping, like Samira’s Indian father. The characters feel hackneyed. Instead of showing complicated, deep, working class characters, Lucky 7’s characters mostly feel right out of the book of what well off people think of good-hearted down-on-their-luck working class Americans. The writing isn’t sharp, and some of the characters, particular Nicky, the ex and current criminal, are particularly grating. Any chance generated by the potentially fascinating premise is wasted by settling for the obvious and uninteresting.

It’s not truly terrible; I’d rather keep terrible to use for worse shows, like Ironside. It’s just regular bad. Still, there’s no reason to feel much sympathy for its quick cancellation.

Will I watch it again? I won’t and I could only watch one more even if I wanted to. I still think this premise could have some juice to it if done well, but this certainly isn’t that.

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