The Lost Room

The Lost RoomSynopsis: Some doors are better left closed.

A mysterious event at the Sunshine Motel caused ordinary things in Room 10 to transform into indestructible objects with extraordinary powers. Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause) discovers the dangerous potential of these objects when his daughter becomes lost in the room. His only help of saving her is to find The Key, but shadowy figures will stop at nothing to keep it – and the other objects – for themselves.

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The Lost Room 7.25

eyelights: the ingenious concept.
eyesores: the mundane writing. the feeble performances.

‘The Lost Room’ is a mini-series that was aired by the Sci Fi Channel in December of 2006. It revolves around a room that exists in another dimension, perhaps even in another time. The room was once located in New Mexico, in 1960, but, following a mysterious event, its then-occupant and all the things in it were ripped from the fabric of reality.

Our story follows Joe Miller, a Police Detective who stumbles upon the key to this room during a routine investigation. Now in his possession, he discovers that the key will open any door that has a lock and hinges on it and takes him to this so-called “lost room”. Unfortunately, unaware of the rules that govern this room, he loses his daughter in it.

Distraught, with no idea how to get his daughter back, Miller begins to follow the few clues at his disposal to try to make sense of the room. He soon discovers that the key is in high demand and that the people who seek it will stop at nothing to get it from him. During his investigation, he also crosses paths with other people like him, people with their own special objects.

What he discovers is that the objects were all once in that room and, following, the “event”, have all been granted strange new properties, powers of one kind or another – and some much more useful than others. For instance, there is a bus ticket that send people to Texas, a pen that microwaves, a comb that stops time, and many other unusual items.

The problem with the objects is that their owners seem to attract bad karma over time. So, although they can use these objects for their own personal gain, in the long-run it has a negative effect on their lives. This is partly why some people are out to gather all of the objects. Others, however, want them thinking that, collectively, they would give godlike powers.

In fact, some people think that they’re pieces of God. Others think that it’s just a weird physics anomaly. And some think that it’s a challenge set by God. What is the secret behind this room and the event that pulled it, and all that it contained, out of our reality? What is this alternate reality and how does it relate with our own? What risks are these people taking?

‘The Lost Room’ was originally broadcast as a three-part miniseries, with each episode running at approximately 90 minutes in length (two hours, with commercials). On the DVD, it has been separated into six chapters, although they are really just two parts of each episode, as there are credits only at the beginning of chapters 1, 3 and 5 and at the end of 2, 4, an 6.

I was immediately drawn into the series. I love a good puzzler: abstract films such as ‘Memento‘ and ‘Inception‘ are pure delight to me. So that first episode, rife with mystery and inexplicable happenings was totally riveting; I just sat there transfixed, waiting to figure out what each item and person’s role was in this whole affair. In some ways, it was as exciting as the first volume of ‘Locke and Key‘. (which, coincidentally enough, has a key that functions in not-so-dissimilar a fashion)

Right from the onset, however, I had some reservations:

The performances, for one, were oftentimes middling. If not for Peter Krause, whose stoic presence and intelligence afforded his character some credibility, I likely would have dismissed the lot of them. Even Kevin Pollack, whom I enjoy, wasn’t bringing his A-game to the show. Most were just passable, with some bordering on cardboard cut-out performances one can expect from a television production.

But there was also the not-inconsequential matter of the writing. In an elaborate story such a ‘The Lost Room’, you need a sharp screenplay. ‘Memento’ pulled it off. ‘Inception’ didn’t manage nearly as well. ‘The Lost Room’…? Well, let’s just say that, at its core, there are some phenomenal elements to it. Phenomenal. However, this was not fleshed out in as ingenious a fashion.

Without wanting to divulge too many of the show’s secrets, let’s just say that by the third part of the mini-series, they had characters do ridiculous things like having one guy do auto-surgery without any adverse effects on himself, allow a newly minted member of the Order of Reunification to steal their prized objects (he could just walk in and whisk them away. No security, nothing!) and let a person replace an object with no consequence at all.

People come and go across America as though time didn’t exist, villains become allies -if not friends- in the blink of an eye, characters conveniently make false assumptions, injuries are ignored, characters arrange to meet just so they can talk for 30 seconds (um… use a phone, stupid!), our protagonist has an endless stream of cash even though he’s on the run, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The show is full of inconsistencies or illogical moments.

Basically, it felt as though the writers scrambled to tie up their loose ends and make sense of the mess they made, instead of actually cleverly mapping out the show’s course from the onset (such as was done with the revamp of ‘Battlestar Galactica’). They simply didn’t think it through and ended up with a mini-series that has an ambiguous ending resolving almost nothing at all.

Had it been an ongoing television series this would have been fine, because there would at least be the next episode or the next season to explain things away or wrap it all up. But this is merely a three-part story, so it was crucial that we get some answers by the final part, that we can at least understand how the pieces come together. As it stands, it’s a bunch of broken pieces that don’t fit.

I was ready to give the show and 8.0 or 8.25 after the first episode. By the second one, which played more like an episode of ‘The X-files’, I was slightly less enthused. But, given the abysmal outcome and the sloppy writing in general, I can’t help but to knock it a few points. This is one mini-series that could have done with some serious fine-tuning before going into production.

Frankly, I would love to see a properly re-tooled version of ‘The Lost Room’. It has massive potential: it’s such a fantastic idea and there are so many amazing elements throughout. It’s just too bad that it wasn’t clever enough to pull off what it intends to do. In fact, in its current incarnation, it’s as unfathomable as the “event” itself.

Date of viewing: January 21-February 8, 2014

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