Plowing the same ground ABC did with “The Nine,” “Lucky 7” represents the network’s latest take on an ensemble soap, here built around the age-old question, “How would money change your life?” Drawing additional inspiration from the movie “If I Had a Million” and anthology series “The Millionaire,” the show about workplace lottery winners almost immediately lurches into melodrama, spinning off multiple plot threads but few that seem worth following. Granted, the odds against succeeding in primetime aren’t quite as long as Powerball, but the show will still need plenty of lucky breaks to prevent its number from being up sooner rather than later.
The lucky septet all work at Gold Star Auto Repair Shop in Queens, including the behind-the-counter sales staff and working stiffs fixing cars. In a way, the most interesting subplot involves one of the mechanics, Antonio (Luis Antonio Ramos), who wound up not contributing to his colleagues’ lottery pool, much to the chagrin of his wife (Alex Castillo). (So much for the notion of being thrifty and not throwing one’s hard-earned cash away on a pipe dream that amounts to a tax on the poor, but hey, never mind the details.)
Adapted by writers David Zabel and Jason Richman from a British series, “The Syndicate” (the two scribes last did “Detroit 1-8-7,” and should probably avoid numbers), and directed by Paul McGuigan, the pilot admittedly contains a buoyant moment of exultation when the disparate recipients get the good news, instantly becoming, as one puts it, “like J-Lo rich.”
Pretty soon, though, we’re into all the attendant complications associated with this sudden windfall, including the ex-con (Stephen Louis Grush) who owes money to the wrong people and his cash-strapped brother (Matt Long), and the overweight sales clerk (Lorraine Bruce) whose husband has been stepping out on her.
For a show like this to work, ultimately, the characters have to take hold and be able to move viewers beyond the initial set-up. But if the pilot is any indication, these folks don’t fill the bill. (Notably, “The Nine” — which also brought a group of people together under extraordinary circumstances — was a far more accomplished pilot, and even that series quickly spun off the rails.)
ABC has also done the show no favors, seemingly, by scheduling it with three other new series, counting on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” to lend its power to a wholly revamped Tuesday night with a pair of sitcoms as the bridge.
“Lucky 7” might overcome those challenges and deliver the necessary numbers to justify ABC’s big gamble, but taking a page from the mechanic character, don’t bet on it.