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Who hasn't daydreamed about winning the lotto? But there's something particularly special about a workplace lotto pool, as it merges the dreams of a group of coworkers into a common goal: to win millions of dollars and probably quit as soon as possible. ABC's new drama Lucky 7 plays with that concept as a group of gas station employees hit the jackpot when their numbers finally come up. Of course, there's more to the story than money, as each of these characters has their own personal issues, some more complicated than others.
Based on a British series called The Syndicate and written by David Zabel and Jason Richman, Lucky 7's pilot episode focuses mostly on the plights of the lead characters in the before-phase of this massive lotto win. Among the employees of the "Gold Star Gas N' Shop" gas station in Astoria Queens is Matt Korzak (Matt Long), a guy struggling with money and trying to support his pregnant girlfriend Mary (Christine Evangelista) and their child. They're all miserable living at Matt's mother's house, and Matt is desperate to get them out of there. Desperate enough to consider robbing Gold Star with his ex-con brother Nicky (Stephen Louis Grush)? Quite possibly.
Working alongside Matt and Nicky is Samira (Summer Bishil), a second-generation Pakistani immigrant who dreams of studying music at Julliard. Nicky has a crush on Samira, but her father has other plans for her romantic future. Cashier Denise (Lorraine Bruce), meanwhile, is struggling to lose weight and suspicious about an enormous amount of texts her husband has been sending to a mystery number. Leanne, (Anastasia Phillips) is a young single mom trying to support her child. She seems sweet, but there are hints that she has something to hide. Meanwhile, the gas station's manager is Bob (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), a nice guy who dreams of one day buying the Gold Star.
And then there's Antonio (Luis Antonio Ramos), a cheerful guy who finds himself on the outside of this group, having given up the lotto pool in an effort to save money, which means he's not among the winners when they hit it big. But if you're keeping count, there are six winners in the pool and one just outside the pool, which makes seven. "Lucky 7" could refer to the winning number, but it's just as likely that the title refers to the characters, which could indicate better fortune for the frugal Antonio down the line.
The pilot divides itself a bit unevenly between the various gas station employees, giving us a quick introduction to each of them and demonstrating their varying need for money as well as offering some indication of what else they have going on in their lives. On one hand, the pilot feels crammed with character information, as it attempts to divide itself between these seven characters, which makes the pilot feel cluttered. But on the other hand, I like that this story starts before the lottery win, as it gives us some sense of who these people are before money inevitably changes their lives in drastic ways. My biggest concern going forward is that the series will struggle to find a balance among these characters, especially if their stories begin to break apart now that they're all rich and may not be working together anymore. But it's a bit premature to lodge that complaint just yet. In terms of introductions, the series premiere gives us the right amount of information to understand where these characters are in their lives when the money comes pouring down.
We've seen attempts at lotto-winner TV series before with Windfall for NBC. There is something compelling about an ensemble show about lotto winners, but we haven't seen much success with the premise in the past. In the end, it may be a matter of finding the right stories to tell. Lucky 7's first episode leaves us to wonder what these characters will do now that they're all richer than they've ever been, and how this money will affect the issues each of them is dealing with in their lives. It's too soon to tell if this will be the kind of compelling drama that leaves us eager to tune in for more each week, but the series gets off to a decent start, laying the groundwork for what could be a suspenseful and dramatic tale.
Lucky 7 premieres Tuesday, September 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC.