Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pilot Review: Lodge 49

Lodge 49 (AMC)
Premiered August 6 at 10pm

Sometimes it’s just not clear where a pilot is headed, and this show made me truly wonder what the pitch was and why exactly anyone opted to turn it into a full-fledged series. I knew I recognized star Wyatt Russell, who appeared in “Ingrid Goes West” and played a far less likeable, ethical character in another underrated Sundance film, “Cold in July.” Here, he’s an aimless former surfer who doesn’t seem to understand how the world works, holding on to pieces of property that no longer belong to him and readily spending money without actually having a way to make any himself. Contrasting him with Brent Jennings’ Ernie, who has worked hard all his life without much to show for it, sets up expectations for I’m not exactly sure what. The final scene of this episode was considerably more poignant and purposeful than anything else in the opening hour, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dud is still a dud and that he’s not going to be any more worthwhile as a character now that he’s paid Ernie the $2000 fee he didn’t have to pay. Following characters who don’t know what they want to do with their lives and are in no rush to find out is a gamble, and this journey feels a whole lot like other cable efforts such as “John from Cincinnati” that just didn’t pan out, regardless of how they may have sounded in the initial meeting. This show might eventually find itself, but it doesn’t seem to have any clue where it’s going.

How will it work as a series? It’s billed as both a comedy and a drama, but I still can’t figure out if it’s supposed to have supernatural content, like Dud being destined to run out of gas right in front of the lodge, or if it’s just a straightforward show with an annoying lead character.
How long will it last? Puzzlingly, it’s received mostly positive reviews, which I can’t understand. Its ratings aren’t great, though AMC has never been a network that puts as much stock into viewership numbers as others do. Still, I think this might go the way of “Feed the Beast,” a high-concept series that just didn’t stick.

Pilot grade: C

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