Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (2016)
Stan Lee turns his attention to the U.K. creating a character who has abilities that are far less ‘super’ than we might expect from the creator of many of Earth’s mightiest heroes!
Harry Clayton (James Nesbitt, ‘The Hobbit’) is a London police detective with a serious gambling problem, one that has lost him his family and a put him in a lot of debt to shady characters. An encounter with a beautiful woman ends up in him getting lucky in more ways than one, with a bracelet that puts the odds strongly in his favour yet may hold dire consequences for others.
From very early into the episode I had the feeling it wanted to be ‘Luther’, then that feeling got stronger when the firs actor from Luther appeared, then the second, then by the time the third alumni appeared it seemed a bit odd, and while it would be a step too far to say it’s deliberate casting, it did feel like a strange coincidence. The opening credits feature the ‘shinier’ parts of London that look impressive and even glamorous, then at times the episode goes to the darker parts of the city yet never really as grimy or as dark as ‘Luther’ (sorry to make the comparison but they did first). This contrast isn’t used for dramatic effect, I think it’s more that London has become a popular destination, especially for films and TV, so showing the impressive architecture and tourist attractions looks good as an opener, but trying to add ‘grit’ needs the other parts of the city.
Burn Gorman stars as a coroner, I doubt that will be the full scope of his role, he’s very recognisable internationally and would be wasted if just there to appear for a few minutes each episode. It’s currently nothing more than a hunch based on the actor’s status but I expect his role will increase or change dramatically. As in ‘Forever’ (which was sadly axed too early) I knew he would be important when his character was introduced, and sure enough he was the main villain. Also making an appearance in the pilot episode is Stan Lee who has his obligatory cameo, this time as himself doing a signing at a bookshop.
One thing I find strange is why the posters have the protagonist holding a gun in them. Most police in the U.K. don’t carry guns and in the pilot episode I don’t remember seeing him use a gun at all. Maybe that is ubiquitous for showing it has a crime theme, making the genre abundantly clear for American audiences. I expect it is planned for U.S. television airing too, Stan Lee’s name is too marketable for it not to be. Though it is aired on television in the U.K. after the watershed when broadcasters can include swearing, I didn’t notice any in the first two episodes, which reinforces my hunch that it’s going to get an American airing too, especially as NBCUniversal are involved in the distribution.
I’m not certain who this is aimed at. It’s not ‘super’ enough to strongly appeal to the comics and superhero crowd without the need to have Stan Lee’s name inextricably featured. On the other hand, if you approach it as a procedural with a twist, it feels a little light when you are inevitably comparing it to ‘Luther’ or other British crime series’ that have recently had huge international success and acclaim. I’m not sure of a solid future for this, though maybe it will find its feet and a loyal audience, there’s the root of an interesting idea there, but it feels insignificant. Some twists and amplification of this ‘power’ might help distinguish this show from the better successes it feels like it’s hanging off the coat-tails of, and more like the creative genius whose name it so prominently features!