Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee teams up with Carnival Films (Downton Abbey) and Sky for his "first ever UK drama". Co-created by Neal Biswas (The Take), Stan Lee's Lucky Man stars James Nesbitt (The Missing) as a down on his luck, flawed charmer cop whose life changes when he's given a strange bracelet.
The 10 x one-hour series started this week on Sky 1 and, past the inevitable excitement based on Lee's name, the first episode of this crime drama with a twist proves to be promising, stylish and entertaining. It's also always pleasant when James Nesbitt is in top shape.
The Irish actor plays Harry Clayton, a London homicide Detective Inspector with a gambling addiction who lost his family home during a poker game. His lawyer wife, Anna (Eve Best), left him with their daughter and he owes big money to Chinese casino boss Freddie Lau (Kenneth Tsang). During another bad evening at Freddie's establishment, Harry Clayton meets the beautiful and enigmatic Eve (Sienna Guillory). Her presence seems to bring him an unexpected good fortune at roulette and they spend the night together. The morning after, she's gone and Harry wakes up with a mysterious bronze bracelet clamped around his left wrist.
Now he can pay off Freddie and he avoids an accident while driving. Later, Lau is found dead right after Harry texted him about the money. Clayton's clever and loyal partner DS Suri Chohan (Amra Karan) covers him when he has to investigate on the case which he's involved in. Rich Clayton (Stephen Hagan), an antique dealer and Harry Clayton's half-brother, cannot identify the bracelet. Could it be Harry's lucky charm? Lau's murder and the death of a stripper are linked. Freddie's daughter Lily Anne (Jing Lusi) wants her father's empire and Harry chases a suspect on the Thames. He needs all of his new luck because his boss has him in his sights, one of his colleagues hates him and someone who was promised the bracelet wants it by any means.
Stan Lee appears in the episode (as himself) and there are comic book panels in the cool title sequence designed by Peter Anderson Studio (Unforgotten, Partners in Crime) to illustrate a song written and performed by Corinne Bailey Rae. Nevertheless, you can keep holding out for a superhero and enjoy the moderately supernatural tribulations of a likeable anti-hero. The slick style of More Yang Than Yin, written by Neil Biswas and directed by Andy De Emmony, reminds (in some respects) of Hustle and Life on Mars. And in the past Carnival Films produced shows like Crime Traveller and Bugs.
The cast is top-notch. Alongside those already mentioned there's Darren Boyd, comedian/actor Omid Djalili, Burn Gorman (recently seen in And Then They Were None) and Steven Mackintosh as Harry's boss Detective Superintendent Alistair Winter. Steven Thompson plays Kevin Grey and Yuri Becker is played by Joseph Gatt. Peter Guiness drops by in the opening scene as financier Vincent Lermontov before the character drops dead. The London locations are amazingly filmed right from the start to the Bondian Thames boat chase. We'll see if the concept can resist to 9 other episodes after this entertaining debut.
Stan Lee's Lucky Man is produced by Stan Lee's Pow! Entertainment and Carnival Films with Sky. Stan Lee and Gill Champion are the co-executive producers for Pow! Entertainment. Neil Biswas is co-executive producer. Anne Mensah and Beverley Booker are the executive producers for Sky. Gareth Neame is the executive producer for Carnival. Richard Fell exec produces. Chris Clough is the producer. John Pardue (And Then They Were None, An Adventure in Space and Time) is the cinematographer. Music composed by Nick Green (The Bletchley Circle). NBC Universal, owner of Carnival, distributes globally.