A low-key guy finds life behind the lodge door

Chances are, you really want to see the "Better Call Saul" season-opener Monday (Aug. 6) ... so you might as well stick around afterward for the debut of "Lodge 49." It's slow and quiet, as a low-key guy stumbles into a new direction for his life. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Television is full of hard-charging, high-octane types.

Its people –
lawyers and doctors, cops and crooks – try to save or destroy each
other and/or the world.

Then there's “Lodge
49,” the new cable drama. “We're proud of having the least
aspirational characters,” said showrunner Peter Ocko.

They aspire to get
by. Dud (Wyatt Russell) surfs; his sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy) works
in a restaurant and chokes in debt.

He's “optimistic
and looking forward to (finding) a way out of the unhappiness,”
Cassidy said. “Whereas she (is just) existing.”

Then he finds a
lodge he never knew about and people he couldn't imagine.

At the root was
writer Jim Gavin's curiosity about the fraternal lodges he saw.

“Driving by all
these dusty, old places in Southern California,” he said, he was
“amazed that they're still there” and wondered what happened
inside. An image formed “of a young man knocking on a door and an
older man opening it.”

Somehow, that seems
to fit a changing world.

Some generations had
lots of personal ties – lodges, churches, military buddies, sewing
circles, extended families; some modern ones don't. “You can ...
see your natural tendency of closing yourself off to other relations
as you grow older and as your ideas become more set,” Russell said.

And that loneliness
can somehow be greater in a crowded place and in a tech world. “In
many ways, social media ... isolates us,” Gavin said. By
comparison, there's the lodge, where “people can actually meet
face-to-face, (as opposed to) a world where people are armed with
digital hate cannons.”

This is “a
blue-collar country club,” said Brent Jennings, who plays one of
the older guys. “These are people who have had their ups and downs,
(but) they're always getting back up ... They suffer with joy.”

-- “Lodge 49,”
10 p.m. Mondays, AMC

-- Debut (after
“Better Call Saul” season-opener) 10:05 p.m. Aug. 6, rerunning at
12:21 and 2:37 a.m.