Long Beach-set “Lodge 49,” a comedic drama creator Jim Gavin says is about “people surviving a catastrophe with laughter and love,” premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on AMC.
“Lodge 49” stars Wyatt Russell as Sean “Dud” Dudley, a disarmingly optimistic former surfer drifting after the death of his father and collapse of the family business whose life is transformed when he finds a ring while searching a beach with a metal detector.
The ring leads him to the run-down Lodge 49 of the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx fraternal lodge, where a middle-aged plumbing salesman and “Luminous Knight” of the order, Ernie (Brent Jennings), welcomes him into a world of cheap beer, easy camaraderie and the promise of alchemical mysteries that may — or may not — put Dud on the path to recover the idyllic life he’s lost.
The cast also includes Sonya Cassidy as Dud’s smart, fiercely independent, deeply cynical twin sister Liz who is searching for a way to escape her life; Linda Emond as an old-school journalist, a lover of words and smoke-filled taverns; David Pasquesi as pot dispensary owner Blaise St. John who is the lodge’s bartender resident philosopher; and Eric Allan Kramer as a Long Beach Port Harbor Patrol officer.
“In a universe of shows that are very dark and very nihilistic exploring the abyss of human behavior … this felt like it was a great antidote,” David Madden, AMC’s president of original programming, said when asked why his network ordered “Lodge 49.”
“This felt it was a show about joy and about optimism, about hope. That felt like it was something different in the landscape, especially the cable landscape.”
Madden said “If `Lodge’ works the way that we hope it will, it will launch Wyatt into a major part of the acting culture.”
“He has a lot of the charm of his parents but also definitely a quality of his own,” Madden said. Russell is the son of Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn and Emmy-nominated actor Kurt Russell.
“The way that Wyatt approaches his character of somebody who has had terrible things happen to him — with almost any other character would make them miserable, unhappy people — but he approaches life with that sense of `joy is just around the corner, something great is about to happen to me.”’
Gavin was born in Long Beach. He primarily grew up in Anaheim and Orange, but Long Beach “retained a certain mythic qualities, which actually gave me a perspective on it,” he told City News Service.
“The city has a very unique feeling to it,” Gavin said. “It’s always had a bit of a magic quality in my mind. It has a timeless quality to it. You can be driving down streets and feel like you’re in 1974 or 1944.”
Gavin said it meant a lot to “portray a city and a people that haven’t had a lot of attention.”
“Lots of stuff films in Long Beach, but it’s never Long Beach,” Gavin said. “It’s always standing in for Miami or something.”
Gavin is the author of the California-set short story collection “Middle Men,” about several down-on-their-luck men, from young dreamers to old veterans, who make valiant forays into middle-class respectability. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Esquire.
“Lodge 49” is Gavin’s first television project.
Madden likens “Lodge 49” to the Showtime comedy “Shameless.”
“`Shameless is also a show who would be perceived as the dregs of society but actually find joy within their microcosm,” Madden said.
“`Lodge (49) has a lot of that same appeal. This is a show about people who don’t seem entitled to their dreams, but they have them and their going to achieve them.”