Though “Lucky” happens to be the name of FX’s latest foray into original programming, it is also a perfectly fitting description of its star, John Corbett. After a string of overlooked roles, Corbett finally got his big break as Aidan, Carrie’s unruffled beau on “Sex and the City.” Then, he had the good fortune of starring in last year’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which ended up becoming the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. Following that film’s success, the rest of the cast signed on to the TV spin-off “My Big Fat Greek Life.” Corbett, fortunately (depending on who you ask) had already committed to star in FX’s “Lucky.” Granted, that might have been a bad move under different circumstances, but on the tails of the cable network’s first original series, “The Shield,” “Lucky” is poised to be a hit.

“Lucky” packs quite a punch, managing to capture both screwball comedy and emotional complexity at once. Given its mix of quirk and drama, the show is a difficult one to categorize. It loosely follows the format of a network dramedy, but runs only a half-hour in length. But then again, FX is not one to abide by television standards, given the graphic nature of “The Shield.”

In addition to bringing a unique style to television, “Lucky” also takes an imaginative look into the life of a compulsive gambler. As Michael “Lucky” Linkletter, Corbett exudes an attractive Elvis-cool with an aura of slippery Vegas ease. Dripping with charisma, Lucky also prides himself on loyalty along with his scam-artist friends, played by Billy Gardell and Craig Robinson, who would throw themselves in front of a car for him, just to make a buck.

In last week’s pilot episode, Lucky, after losing the million dollars he had won in the World Championship of Poker a year earlier, has to find a way to pay back his recently deceased wife’s parents for her funeral, without gambling. At the end of the episode, after losing his job, being beaten over the head with a bottle and robbed of all the money he had managed to scrounge up, Lucky finds himself in an unusual position, defeated and susceptible, with a $100 casino chip in his hand. This is where the show could have taken one of two routes; either focus on the inner-demons and subtle emotional struggle of a compulsive gambler, or embrace the sardonic edge of a wild man who can’t stay legit. Though Corbett could seemingly pull off either, “Lucky” goes for the latter. It is a comedy after all. Or is it?

3 1/2 Stars

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