Continuing to show faith in new projects well before they've been proven a hit with audiences, HBO has ordered a full second season of the highly-acclaimed horse racing drama Luck, just two days after the show made its official season premiere.
Including the initial sneak peek that followed the season 2 finale of Boardwalk Empire, late last year, additional replays and the January 29 airing to kick off its inaugural season, Luck managed to draw 3.3 million viewers. While those numbers may seem low for a program of this magnitude, HBO clearly felt assured that the combination of critical acclaim, eventual word-of-mouth and nearly ubiquitous advertising would be the right formula to improve Luck's ratings fortunes.
Of course, counting stars like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Joan Allen (Pleasantville) and Jill Hennessy (Law & Order, Crossing Jordan) amongst its cast, as well as powerhouse creators like Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider) and David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue) working behind the scenes, is also a great way to drum up more than enough confidence in the powers-that-be at any network - let alone one with a track record like HBO.
To that end, HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo made the announcement by stating: "We couldn’t be more thrilled with the critical response to this beautiful piece of work, and we are very excited about where David and Michael plan to take these incredible characters."
Apparently, Milch and his team of writers had been expecting the announcement for some time, as scripting duties have already begun on many of the 10 episodes that will comprise Luck's second season. While getting a head start like that could be construed as counting one's chickens before they hatch, Milch likely wasn’t acting out sheer hubris. Having just signed a multi-year deal with the network, any kind of renewal for Luck – early or not – may have been something of a foregone conclusion.
Calling in a second (or third) season after barely a handful of showings is nothing new for HBO; the network made early renewals on Boardwalk Empire during its first and second seasons, as well as Game of Thrones – despite less-than-stellar ratings for that program's premiere. However pleasant it may be to base the news of an early renewal on an enthusiastic response by the network, due to the cost and effort in bringing such programs to life, readying production nearly a year in advance is necessary from a logistical standpoint, as well.
In the case of Luck, much of the series films at the Santa Anita racetrack, which it uses between racing seasons – and with production on season 2 needing to start next month, the renewal came at just the right time.
Those that have already watched the series premiere (and episode 2 via HBO GO) can likely tell Luck is shaping up to be an exemplary bit of programming that will now carry on well into 2013.
Luck airs Sunday nights @9pm on HBO.