Weirdness runs through television‚Äôs more daring shows. It‚Äôs a predictably outr√© mood that shades some of the best crime sagas (‚ÄúBreaking Bad‚ÄĚ), complex dramas (‚ÄúThe Leftovers‚ÄĚ) and half-hour hipster comedies (‚ÄúAtlanta‚ÄĚ), yet it‚Äôs the kind of weirdness that usually serves as a backdrop to a larger through line. We don‚Äôt have enough shows that are just casually and pleasingly odd for the sake of being so.
‚ÄúLodge 49,‚ÄĚ premiering Monday on AMC, is exactly the right kind of weird. Without ever becoming a violent criminal spree or a baffling head-scratcher, it‚Äôs simply a melancholy, 10-episode rumination on loss and friendship.
The series, created by Jim Gavin, is about an unemployed, millennial surf bum, Dud (Wyatt Russell), who finds a new purpose by joining the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx ‚ÄĒ a fading, Long Beach, Calif., social club populated by late-middle-age baby boomers (men and women), who all feel some degree of sorrow about the way things used to be.
Bright-eyed and shaggy, Dud‚Äôs eternal optimism has been tested in the past year or so. On a surfing trip to Nicaragua, a poisonous jungle snake bit him, which left him with a permanent limp. After Dud returned home, his father disappeared while swimming at a nearby beach; his body was never found. Dud and his twin sister, Liz (Sonya Cassidy), discovered that their father‚Äôs pool-supply shop was gravely in debt. They lost both the business and the family home.
Liz works at an Irish-themed chain restaurant (called Shamroxx), counting her tips and obsessing over the $80,000 bank loan she unwittingly co-signed for her father.
Dud, who often sleeps in his beat-up VW Thing or on his sister‚Äôs sofa, is in deep hock to the pawnshop that sits a couple of strip-mall spaces from his father‚Äôs vacant storefront. Caught lingering ‚ÄĒ and trespassing ‚ÄĒ at his father‚Äôs old house, he‚Äôs clearly a lost soul in a suspended state of grief. Russell (the son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) gives an instinctively laid-back and exquisitely wounded performance throughout the series ‚ÄĒ a Spicoli-esque boy interrupted, facing hopelessness where he once only saw sunshine.
One morning, while hunting for valuables along the beach with a metal detector, Dud finds a ring with the Lynx insignia. Through coinkydinks (and an empty gas tank), he knocks on the door of Lodge 49 and the show more or less begins.
Dud is enchanted by the idea of the musty club, with its lingering air of secrets and rituals once kept by its members ‚ÄĒ throne rooms, inner sanctums, alchemy and pseudoscience. Now it‚Äôs mainly a tavern for people who used to work at the nearby aerospace manufacturer, which is in its final stages of shutting down.
The chapter‚Äôs grand poobah, Larry (Kenneth Welsh), has been acting strangely, preparing his likely successor, Ernie (Brent Jennings), a plumbing-supply salesman, to take over. This necessitates an emissary from the Order of the Lynx‚Äôs London headquarters to visit Lodge 49 and reassess its status.
As ‚ÄúLodge 49‚ÄĚ sets up, viewers may find themselves anticipating more action. There are plenty of characters here so desperate for money that you half expect the lodge to start laundering cash or some other dangerous scheme. Where‚Äôs the hit man? The crime boss? The heist? That‚Äôs where most shows take their weirdness; we‚Äôve been trained to expect a bigger hook.
‚ÄúLodge 49,‚ÄĚ on the other hand, remains utterly human in scope and ambition ‚ÄĒ funny and meandering. There‚Äôs a whiff of the supernatural in the lore of Order of the Lynx, involving secret scrolls and the mystic belief in a ‚Äútrue lodge.‚ÄĚ But these things never get in the way of the show‚Äôs essential and delightful magic, which is about a dude who is learning to abide.
Lodge 49‚ÄČ(one hour) premieres Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC.