“Le Rêve Impossible” is the title of the penultimate episode of Lodge 49, but it could just as easily have been the name of this effortlessly beguiling AMC series (though you’d have to trade the Pynchon reference for Man Of La Mancha). A show without an obvious hook or overwhelming star power was bound to get lost in the flood of Peak TV—a neat encapsulation of its sunny allure eluded even early devotees of Jim Gavin and Peter Ocko’s existential hybrid series. Lodge 49 was both an occasionally heartbreaking comedy and an oft-hilarious drama; surreal, yet at times almost painfully grounded. For some, it was the kind of hangout show that’s practically vanished from TV, while for others, Lodge 49 was a treatise on the power of community over unbridled corporate greed.
AMC canceled the show last fall, but for two shining seasons, Lodge 49 worked its magic on viewers with the help of a cast replete with charmers, including Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, and Sonya Cassidy; stirring scripts from Gavin, Micah Cratty, and Alina Mankin; and excellent direction by Jake Schreier and Alethea Jones. The Television Academy would do well to recognize these talents—the way Jones seamlessly folded flashbacks into the present-day story of “Circles” is rivaled only by Watchmen’s Stephen Williams’ impeccable merging of time periods in “This Extraordinary Being”—but The Lonely Wild’s Andrew Carroll also merits acknowledgment in Outstanding Original Music Composition. Along with music supervisor Tom Patterson, Carroll helped create the hypnotic vibe of the show with a mix of retro tunes, obscure surf rock, baroque pop, and pseudo-Gregorian chants.
The immersion into the world of the Lodge and the intertwining lives of twins Dud (Wyatt Russell) and Liz (Sonya Cassidy) begins with the show’s music—soundscapes of ambient pop and fuzzed-out guitars that make it hard to tell waking life from dream. The spell is cast the moment the animated doors are thrown open in the title sequence, which wheels through celestial drawings and silhouettes of container cranes that have fallen into disuse against the angelic sounds of Carroll’s theme, “I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door!” The images of a knight, squire, and lynx are cryptic, especially to any newcomers to Lodge 49’s world-building, but the swelling chorus readily creates a mystical atmosphere. More elegant than any sea shanty, “I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door!” nonetheless points to adventure, which Lodge 49 had in abundant supply, along with insights into finding the magic in the mundane, the rhinos versus the unicorns. (The Television Academy should feel free to view this as an endorsement of Lodge 49 in the Outstanding Main Title Design as well.)
Lodge 49 is often described as a modern fable, whose moral would resonate through the years. That sense of timelessness is owed in part to the limited use of technology as well as the show’s music, which is swimming in surf tunes like The Squires’ “Going All The Way” and the complementary “The Seventh Seal,” from psych-pop act The Soundcarriers, whose work can be heard in virtually every episode of the show. While promoting the release of the show’s soundtrack in 2019, Carroll said he “wanted the score to feel seamless with the needle drops—like a band was jamming with a Gregorian chant choir.” The songwriter-producer nestled his original songs, including the sparse and haunting “I Was Spinning,” in a soundtrack that combined the kraut-psychedelic sounds of Broadcast with indie rock tracks like Lilys’ “Unheard Of Curiosities.” The score and soundtrack unmoor the show from any specific time period, while also paying tribute to its SoCal setting.
In mythology, a siren’s call is an invitation to destruction. While just as enchanting, the music of Lodge 49 is the opposite of such a ruinous prospect: The score and surf rock-filled soundtrack beckon audiences to a real land (Long Beach) full of real, flawed people who more often than not take the opportunity to be good to each other, proving kindness hasn’t become just a myth.
Seasons one and two of Lodge 49 are now streaming on Hulu.