Stan Lee’s Lucky Man hits audience jackpot

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Twist of fate: James Nesbitt and Sienna Guillory in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man

SKY1 HONCHOS certainly feel like winners right now as their gambling-themed thriller Stan Lee’s Lucky Man has been getting hefty backing from viewers.

Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Sienna Guillory as Eve

Starring James Nesbitt, the 10-parter (Fridays, 9pm on Sky1) saw its viewing figures jump after the first episode from 1.14m to a consolidated audience  of 1.74m. This is the biggest increase in viewing figures that the first episode of any Sky original drama series has ever achieved in the week after transmission. It also makes it the best performing original drama series launch on Sky1 for nearly four years (see our preview of the show here).

Adam MacDonald, Director of Sky 1, said: ‘I’m thrilled that our customers are enjoying the show as much as we are.

‘This record increase in viewing figures shows that they continue to value the flexibility that we offer them, to watch their favourite shows wherever and whenever they want.’

The series is the idea of comic legend Stan Lee and plays with themes of gambling and fate.

It sees DI Harry Clayton (Nesbitt), a cop from Central London’s Murder Squad, being given a mysterious bracelet that is said to endow the wearer with immense luck.

Roulette wheel at the Green Dragon Casino in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One - behind-the-scenes Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

The Green Dragon Casino in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man

The story exudes a glamorous side of London, the characters are familiar with the kind of high-adrenaline leisure found on sites such as Casino UK, and the show has panache, mixing an off-beat crime tale with spectacular depictions of the night-time capital with terrific action scenes.

However, Harry’s luck comes with a price and soon he finds himself at the heart of a sinister crime wave hitting town. The series also stars Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited), Sienna Guillory (Fortitude), Eve Best (Nurse Jackie), Steven Mackintosh (Inside Men), Darren Boyd (Spy) and Omid Djalili (Moonfleet).

This Friday the intrigue continues as Harry makes a wrong move that lands him in a life or death situation…

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode Three Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

Life or death: DI Harry Clayton


5 hopes for Stan Lee’s Lucky Man

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man started this weekend on Sky1, and anticipation has been building nicely. It’s certainly an intriguing side project from the man behind the bulk of Marvel’s creative genius, and early looks at the show have been promising. You can read CrimeTimePreview’s own review of the action here, but in the meantime here are some general hopes for what we’ll see in the show.

1. London as it is

There’s a tendency in Marvel films and shows to depict fictionalised versions of major urban areas (usually New York). The cities might appear to be relatively normal, but there’s always a sort of pageantry to how civilians roam the background while heroes take center stage. For lack of a better term, the resulting atmosphere can feel cheesy. For this reason it would be nice to see Lucky Man show off modern London in a realistic manner. This trailer certainly seems to do as much. It even closes with a stark but very real vision of the skyline, so there are positive indications in this regard.

2. A starring turn for James Nesbitt

James Nesbitt is a familiar actor to a lot of people, having done fine work on The Missing and Babylon, among other television projects, along with the role of Bofur in the Hobbit film series. But Lucky Man certainly looks as if it could be his most significant role to date, so here’s hoping for a starring turn that shows his full range of talents.

3. Clear manipulation of luck

Going by the early description of the show, Nesbitt’s character (a detective named Harry) will gain the ability to control his own luck by way of using a mystical, ancient bracelet. That’s an interesting premise to be sure, but if there’s one recurring flaw in Marvel’s cinematic projects, it may just be that powers are too often defined loosely and conveniently. Strength and powers tend to meet or exceed their limits only as dictated by the needs of the story.

For instance, Iron Man’s suit can withstand incredible force, but it proves to be no match for the Hulk; Captain America’s shield is indestructible but suddenly gets scratched and scuffed up when the character needs to appear battle-worn; the abilities of Thor’s hammer seem to change each time he throws it. This time around, it would be nice to see a source of power—evidently, an ancient bracelet—used within clear limitations. We should know how, when, and to what extent Harry can use it.

4. Appropriate hobbies

Nesbitt’s character is meant to be a gambler, though presumably once he learns to control his own luck he’ll make what money he needs and focus on his detective/hero work. But the foundation of a superhero character as a fortune-seeking gambler is an interesting one, so it would be nice to see this aspect of the character continue to exist throughout the show. Furthermore, this is an increasingly easy hobby to work into a show.

Even if an ordinary casino might not be a fitting environment for a detective, the popular online casino market is an option, and has yet to be covered in satisfying detail in fiction. At this site, a player (Nesbitt, perhaps?) can jump into pretty much any game that exists at a real casino, playing with real money against actual opponents. There are even live dealers who work through the site to control games. Seeing Nesbitt’s character spending his free time holed up in an apartment with a hobby like this would be an interesting twist away from the standard bottle of scotch or home workout routine.

5. A lone-wolf hero

Finally, let’s hope this is a one-off, lone-wolf hero rather than yet another addition to the massive universe of Marvel film and television content. It’s widely expected that even the characters from the recent Netflix shows added to Marvel’s empire will ultimately be brought into the films. Lucky Man certainly seems different, largely because it’s not being produced by Marvel. However, it’s not a huge reach to imagine that it could be welcomed into the fold if it’s successful. Instead, it might be nice to see this one run its own course.

Any way you cut it, Lucky Man is certainly intriguing. Let’s hope it winds up being just the latest work of genius from the now 93-year-old Stan Lee.

Lucky Man is on Sky1 on Fridays at 9pm

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1, James Nesbitt

James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Steffan Hill / © 2015 Carnival Films

The chips are down, bit not for long: James Nesbitt as DI Harry Clayton and Sienna Guillory as Eve

Cop show with a supernatural twist from the creator of Spider-Man

★★★½ Sky1, Fridays 9pm (starts 22 January)

COMIC-BOOK genius Stan Lee – Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor and other Marvels – has teamed up with Sky1 for his first TV drama. It’s a detective story and the result is typically far-fetched and fast-paced.

Troubled London detective Harry Clayton is addicted to gambling, but his life takes a wild turn when he is given a bracelet that endows him with luck. What at first appears to be a brilliant change of fortune is soon revealed to be a double-edged blessing.

Stan Lee's Lucky Man, with James Nesbitt, Sky1

Run of luck: James Nesbitt as Harry

Lee, the 93-year-old writer-editor-pubisher, says of the show: ‘People always ask me what superpower I would have, or what power there is that I haven’t already given to a hero. I have always thought that luck would probably be the greatest power of all. We decided that a man, our modern-day hero, receiving a certain type of luck would make an interesting show.’

Eve Best and Sienna Guillory

So, has Sky1 hit the jackpot with this high-concept 10-parter?

It’s good fun, with plenty of action and intrigue. The channel has also provided a pretty decent cast, with James Nesbitt as Clayton, Eve Best as his barrister wife and Sienna Guillory as the mysterious Eve, who locks the charmed bracelet to Harry’s wrist during a one-night stand.

Eve Best as Anna Clayton in Stan Lee's Lucky Man (an original British drama for SKY 1) Episode One Photographer: Liam Daniel / © 2015 Carnival Films

Harry’s loss: Eve Best as Anna Clayton

Steven Mackintosh plays Harry’s fierce new boss, with Darren Boyd as his troublesome colleague and Omid Djalili turning up as a strip-club owner. There’s even a cameo from Stan the Man.

While the plot ticks over with an investigation into the murder of a casino owner and a stripper, the meat of it is Harry and his messed up life. He’s separated from his wife because of his gambling, but he still loves her and his daughter. Meanwhile, he discovers that some fairly ruthless people want his bracelet.

[Read more…]

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