By Shawn McKenzie 04/14/2003
When I heard that John Corbett was not joining his fellow movie cast members in the TV version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I was a little miffed. Did he think he was too good for the show? It really wasn’t his fault, since he was already under contract to star in FX’s new show, “Lucky,” and he wouldn’t have time to do “My Big Fat Greek Life.” It turns out to have been a lucky twist of fate for Corbett, because the show is much better than the “Greek” one.
Michael “Lucky” Linkletter (Corbett) is a compulsive gambler who happens to live in gambling central, Las Vegas. A year ago, he won the million-dollar prize at the Las Vegas Professional Poker Player Championship. When asked what was next for him, he said he was going to marry his girlfriend Sarah, and he predicted he would lose the money. Fast forward to today, and both things have happened. He married Sarah, but then she died (in a way that has yet to be explained.) He gambled away the million he won, and he had to borrow $8000 from Sarah’s parents, Bill and Carol, to pay for her funeral. He currently works as a car salesman for Stan McWatt (Robb Cullen, who also executive produces the show with his brother Mark), but his commissions aren’t making him enough. He tries other options to get the money to pay Sarah’s parents back. The first one he tries is borrowing it from a loan shark named Joey Leggs (Dan Hedaya), but Joey wants Lucky to gamble for him, and he doesn’t want to go back to that life. The next thing he tries is to collect some money owed to him from The Trake (Seymour Cassel), named after the tracheotomy tube he has to breathe through. He has no luck there, because The Trake passes out and goes into a diabetic coma. His two close friends, Vinny Sticarelli (Billy Gardell) and Mutha Legendre (Craig Robinson), a couple of fellow compulsive gamblers that he met in a support group, try to help him out, including Vinny jumping in front of cars so that the people who hit him will pay him. That helps a little, but a degenerate named Danny Martin (Kevin Breznahan) robs him. He decides to swallow his pride and risk letting gambling take over his life again by taking Joey’s deal. Along the way, he meets fellow compulsive gambler Theresa (Ever Carradine) at one of the support group meetings. She is a successful real estate broker, but has a bad gambling problem. Lucky agrees to be her sponsor, even though he may be soon slipping himself.
I don’t know how this show about a serious addiction still manages to be funny, but it is just that. Corbett isn’t the flashiest actor around, but this is certainly his most interesting character to date. Gardell and Robinson are the funniest part of any scene they are in, and Hedaya manages to be amusing and menacing at the same time. The show benefits from being on FX, because they aren’t required to have an annoying laugh track and the language is a little looser than it would be on the networks. That second thing has also helped the show’s fellow FX series, “The Shield.” This comedy has skillfully added enough drama to make it interesting, but not so much that it makes the show depressing.
I’ve gotta say it: we are “Lucky” to have this show. Corbett is also lucky he escaped having to star in that “Greek” show that never really improved in quality throughout its six episode first season run. “Lucky” marks the first quality sitcom for the mini-HBO known as FX, which up until now could only claim the sex-pun comedy “Son of the Beach” as its only sitcom success. Let’s hope the luck stays with the network and it continues to make us lucky with great new shows (have I stretched the word “lucky” out far enough?)
DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Try to catch this show every week...
If a better show is on, tape this one...
If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...
If this show is on, change the channel immediately!