Given its pedigree, I have to admit that my expectations for the new HBO series, "Luck," were pretty high.
The series, which had a sneak preview last month and debuts Sunday at 9 p.m., comes from the creative minds of David Milch ("Deadwood") and Michael Mann ("Heat"), and features a cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Jill Hennessey and others. With that much talent involved on both sides of the camera, how could it not be good?
Simple: You still have to tell a compelling story that the average viewer can follow. Set in the world of horse racing, "Luck" follows multiple storylines early on, about a mob boss (Hoffman) recently released from prison; a trainer (Nolte) working on a prized thoroughbred; a group of gamblers who land the biggest score of their lives; etc.
I found it difficult to follow the various plot threads, especially with little backstory being offered. Worse, the story seemed to revolve around several horses, but I didn't know which one was which.
Pilots are always tricky because they often don't reflect subsequent episodes since the pilot's job is to establish a new world for the viewer. In "Luck's" case, however, I think it's the opposite -- it treats the viewer like it already knows what's going on and doesn't do enough to establish everyone's relationship. It's slow pacing didn't help, either.
Anyway, as always, watch for yourselves and judge. Just be prepared to take notes.
THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: "The Office" gets a night off as NBC airs new episodes of "30 Rock" at both 8 and 9 p.m., sandwiching a new "Parks & Recreation." They are followed by "Up All Night" and "The Firm," which is still hanging on.
CBS has new episodes of "Big Bang Theory" and "Rob," but follow those with reruns. Fox airs a new "American Idol," followed by "The Finder." Hey, Finder, I'm still waiting for you to find my sense of optimism and joy.
On cable, you can't have two more different shows than "Archer" and "Unsupervised." The former is one of the funniest, cleverest animated shows on TV. The other is animated and a waste of 30 minutes. Both air new episodes on FX, beginning at 10 p.m.
Finally, if you are looking to catch up or refresh your memory about the unbelievably complex world of "Game of Thrones," HBO is rerunning the series each Thursday at 10 p.m., leading up to the season premiere in April.