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‘Lodge 49:’ In Praise of Laconic Storytelling

"What we may lack in conventional plot, we make up for in rich and highly detailed atmospherics that allow our characters time to grow and develop."

Created by Jim Gavin, AMC’s Lodge 49 is set in Long Beach, CA and centered on Dud (Wyatt Russell), an ex-surfer who attempts to maintain his positive outlook on life while still reeling from the death of his father, the collapse of the family business and any semblance of the middle-class life he knew.

Dud finds himself deposited (by fate) at the doorstep of Lodge 49, home to the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx, a dusty dying fraternal order and finds solace in this dark, mysterious retreat that offers cheap beer and strange alchemical philosophies. 

Lodge 49 producer Paul Giamatti explains to Scott Porch, “The show unfolds more like a work of literature. It takes its time, and unexpected things happen. It grows slowly and organically and goes to a lot of interesting places, but it doesn’t do that in an amped-up way. It’s much more patient than that.” To read the full interview, click here.

“Making such a passive, indolent character the focus of a series is risky, of course,” says  Glen Weldon. “Drama needs conflict, and Dud is conflict’s absence. Such inertia, in a main character, usually creates a frustrating and unsatisfying sense of randomness—of events simply unfolding, instead of choices getting made. 

“Yet Lodge 49 creator Gavin and his writing team allow for this by filling the periphery of the series with whispers, signs and portents. Something is going on in Dud’s life—fate, or perhaps something much more earthly, is guiding him, and his blithe willingness to follow it will either be his salvation or his doom.” To read the full article, click here.

“There is a kind of calm to much of it,” says Robert Lloyd, “whether we are in the permanent dusk of the lodge’s tavern, or the doughnut shop where Dud hangs out, or in the mostly empty offices of a dying aerospace corporation.

“Action does erupt every so often, but for the most part Lodge 49 is a medium-paced story, driven by conversation. It isn’t slow—it’s remarkably busy, in fact—but it’s in no rush to give up its secrets, either. Seemingly random comments and mysterious glimpsed events may not be explained until an episode or two or more later, if ever.” To read the full article, click here.

“The series is full of odd details, meandering subplots, ancillary characters and seeming asides that can make a given episode seem quirky for quirky’s sake,” Weldon continues. “But gradually, over the course of this ten-episode season, the show reveals a solid, if densely constructed, narrative infrastructure. Plots intersect, characters deepen and a few bits of genius casting make the winding journey a hugely satisfying one.” To read the full article, click here.

“I feel like there’s a range of shows now, beyond ‘Network Doctor/Lawyer’ land, that bleed the edge of half-hour comedy and hour-long drama,” Gavin tells James T. Keane. “Ten years ago, no one would have touched Lodge 49, which has a unique tone. I consider it a comedy—it takes place in a comic universe—but it’s an hour long and therefore has the expectation of a drama. I think the writers naturally subvert the tropes of standard drama but also don’t write toward punchlines like a half-hour comedy. 

“We’re atmospheric in tone and intent. It’s all about character. The best word I know to describe the show comes from Schopenhauer, who coined the term, ‘Bummerfarce.’ We are a bummerfarce for sure.” To read the full interview, click here.

“What we may lack in conventional plot, we make up for in rich and highly detailed atmospherics that allow our characters time to grow and develop,” Gavin tells Alex Norcia. “In the end, this show is about hanging out with our characters in ways familiar and strange. To read the full interview, click here.