Stan Lee’s Lucky Man: Review: Series 1 Episode 1: More Yang than Yin

lucky-man-tile-7a332e1DI Harry Clayton is not what you’d call blessed with luck – a huge gambling debt, an estranged wife, colleagues who are generally not on his side. But then he meets a young woman at the gambling table and wakes up with a bracelet on his wrist… and his luck seems to change…

Well, we’ve had apparently time-travelling cops, real time-travelling cops, and Amazon Prime’s about to give us the Prince of Darkness moonlighting as a cop’s assistant, but this is TV’s first cop with a superhero power that’s luck. That’s if you discount the scriptwriting on far too many series where the detective at the heart of the story doesn’t ever really earn the collars he makes – things fall into place at convenient times (such as just before a commercial break), so that it can all be neatly wrapped up in 50 minutes/six episodes.

James Nesbitt plays… well, a James Nesbitt type of character, full of charm and blarney, who’s got in over his head and doesn’t really know how he’s going to get out of a huge debt to a Chinatown overlord. He goes through this with the requisite changes of expression, but there’s only really a couple of times where you feel he engages with the material – when he and his daughter’s mother are waiting in the hospital for news after their child has an accident, and then when he’s involved in a high-speed boat chase down the Thames. This level of scepticism and world-weariness fits the character though, and it’ll be interesting to see how he embraces the new world brought to him by the bracelet.

The producers have put a strong cast around Nesbitt – they’re all a little one-dimensional still, as there’s a heck of a lot of exposition to be got through in this opener on top of establishing the murder case(s) that, at least at present, seem disconnected from Harry’s new luck. (The cast includes Burn Gorman, who seems to be everywhere at the moment – from The Man in the High Castle to And Then There Were None to this!)

Quite how much Stan the Man is involved with this isn’t really clear – apart from a cameo doing a signing apparently in the doorway of Forbidden Planet! – although I’m sure that some of the “quaint London ways” can be ascribed to him (London Police, not the Met; Chinatown singularly lacking in tourists etc.). The luck itself is demonstrated in a rather Final Destination slo-mo way but again it works in context.

Verdict: A bit clunky in places, but there’s enough here to at least warrant a second look next week. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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