Author Topic: The Lost Room  (Read 7757 times)

SFEley

  • Autarch
  • *****
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
The Lost Room
« on: February 04, 2007, 10:39:50 PM »
Just finished watching the Sci Fi Channel miniseries The Lost Room that aired a month or so back.  Holy cow, was that good.  How on earth does the same network that makes such an abysmal screw-up out of Earthsea manage to do something this intelligent and cool?

For those who hadn't heard of it, here's the premise: there's a motel room.  Many years ago, something strange and terrible happened in this room.  No one knows exactly what.  But now the room no longer exists in our world; you can visit it, but at a price.  And the things that used to be in the room -- common, ordinary objects -- have become...something else. 

All the objects from the room have unusual powers.  Bad things happen to the people who own them.  Some people are driven crazy by them.  Some people become obsessed with these objects the moment they learn of them, and cults and factions are robbing and killing each other to collect them: to destroy them, or to use them for worldly power, or to unite them and "learn the mind of God," or for more individual motives.

Joe Miller (played by the actor who played Nate on Six Feet Under) is a homicide detective who ends up with the key to the lost motel room while investigating some grisly deaths.  Simply holding it makes him a target, and when he loses his daughter to this mysterious room, he has to unravel all of its secrets to get her back.

What I love about this miniseries is that it's a smart, logically consistent storyline that gets all of its mystery and all of its creepiness from following its own rules.  Joe's a smart guy, and as he figures out how the room and the objects work, he applies this knowledge to get what he needs.  He makes alliances when he needs to, and those alliances usually work.  Nobody does anything just "because they're evil" or anything like that.  Best of all, the plot never hinges on people being inexplicably stupid.  The action always makes sense.  If bad decisions are made, they're always made in character for reasons you can understand, and I never once wanted to yell at the screen.  Do you know how rare that is?

It does have a bit of an "adventure game" feel to it: there are puzzles that seem to rely on using the right item in your inventory in the right way at the right time.  That sometimes annoys me, but in this case it seemed to fit.  The story is about objects, after all, and everyone is consciously driven by them.  It didn't affect the suspense -- and if I sometimes figured out what was going to happen next, it was usually only a few seconds ahead of the characters.

It left a few plot threads still hanging at the end, and I've heard rumors (which I was unable to substantiate) that it was intended as a possible "backdoor" series pilot, the way the Galactica miniseries was.  I'm actually not sure whether a series would be a good idea or not.  Done with a very careful, very tight storyline, it could work.  But it could also be made really cheesy, just a "We've got to collect all these objects!" fetch quest like the old Friday the 13th TV series, and that would make me sad.  This miniseries was a great story, largely because it had a clear endpoint and didn't get sidetracked by its own cleverness or weird object powers.  I'm also worried that by the end the audience knows too much -- it'd be hard to maintain such a mystery over the course of a season or two.  But we don't know everything, and they might surprise me.
 
In any case, Anna and I found it to be a compelling, clever six hours and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  When it airs again (everything on Sci Fi always airs again), it's worth your time to check this one out.  Or hopefully they'll put it out on DVD.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine

ClintMemo

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 680
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2007, 10:04:02 PM »
I'm hoping it did well in the ratings. I think a lot of the best stuff sci-fi has done has been with mini-series. (I personally liked the sci-fi version of "Dune" much better than the Hollywood version). I think it's a much better venue for science fiction than straight television and even theatrical movies.  The sci-fi mini-series don't have the mega-budgets that movies have, so they have to rely on writing, acting and directing, instead of blowing things up with lasers.  Yeah, they've made some clunkers, but things the "The Lost Room" prove that they can do something right.

"Oh, it ROTATES things.."   LOL
Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.

SFEley

  • Autarch
  • *****
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2007, 10:25:39 PM »
The sci-fi mini-series don't have the mega-budgets that movies have, so they have to rely on writing, acting and directing, instead of blowing things up with lasers.  Yeah, they've made some clunkers, but things the "The Lost Room" prove that they can do something right.

True.  I believe some things they do are deliberately bad.  There really is an audience for movies like Mansquito, or Chupacabra II, or the horrible one whose name escapes me about an evil mermaid terrorizing a cruise ship.  They can make those B-movies for dirt cheap, show them way too late at night, and people will watch them for amusement.  I'm okay with that.  It's stupid fun; nobody gets hurt.

What bugs me is when they take stuff that should be done well, especially really good literary properties like Earthsea or Riverworld, and make a total hash out of it.  It has nothing to do with the budgets -- I don't believe it could have cost that much more to make Dune than Earthsea, and The Lost Room was probably dirt cheap -- it's just that they sometimes get writers who really seem to care about what they're doing, and other times it's formula schlock.  It bugs me even more because they've proven enough times that they can make good features. 

Quote
"Oh, it ROTATES things.."   LOL

"What does the gun do?"

"It shoots bullets really fast."
ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine

nebulinda

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 20
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 11:33:41 AM »
I TIVO'd The Lost Room and watched it two or three times. The only thing that annoyed me was all the loose ends and things left unexplained. We never learned what many of the Objects do (such as the clock), which is okay if it's not that important to the plot, but if everyone thinks it's the Prime Object, I want to know why they think that. Why is the clock better than the rest?

And nailing random Objects to the door seemed implausible to me. I got the feeling that the Objects were governed by some sort of incomprehensible logic, but logic nonetheless. Using something as mundane as nails to attach the Objects to the door in no clear pattern bothered me. But that's just me. Keep in mind that I watched this months ago, so it's not all very clear in my mind anymore.

Basically, I didn't understand the rules of this universe. Which is okay. I'm just curious. I want to know what the Objects do, dammit!

Besides that, The Lost Room was fantastic. Funny in the right places, dramatic, suspenseful, good pacing, and it even had a happy ending. I don't watch a lot of the Sci-Fi channel, so I can't really comment on their quality or standards. But the acting and writing was awesome. I would recomend this to anyone, and can't wait to see it again.

"What does the gun do?"

"It shoots bullets really fast."

That might be one of my favorite lines from all of television.

SFEley

  • Autarch
  • *****
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2007, 11:54:34 AM »
I TIVO'd The Lost Room and watched it two or three times. The only thing that annoyed me was all the loose ends and things left unexplained. We never learned what many of the Objects do (such as the clock), which is okay if it's not that important to the plot, but if everyone thinks it's the Prime Object, I want to know why they think that. Why is the clock better than the rest?

Actually, we did find out what the clock does.  It sublimates brass. 

(That's one of the things I really enjoyed about the show -- that the weird effects ranged from "extraordinarily powerful" to "downright silly."  Until the point where they had a critical need to sublimate some brass.)  >8->

Also, the clock turned out not to be the Prime Object after all; that was Weasel's incorrect theory.  All the Prime Object theorizing had to do with objects' relationships to each other, not with the inherent abilities of the objects themselves.  Lots of characters were devoting ridiculous time to studying the objects' movements in relation to each other, and at some point someone must have perceived a pattern that other objects were coming near the clock a lot.

Either that, or Weasel simply thought, "Whoaaa.  Clock!  It must be powerful!"  (Perhaps he was inspired by this sketch from Sesame Street.)  >8->



Quote
And nailing random Objects to the door seemed implausible to me. I got the feeling that the Objects were governed by some sort of incomprehensible logic, but logic nonetheless. Using something as mundane as nails to attach the Objects to the door in no clear pattern bothered me.

Yeah, the experiments with Room 9 seemed a little ungrounded.  I think the scriptwriters were just trying to pass it off as, "These people had spent a few years studying the objects, so they must know a lot of stuff about them that the audience doesn't.  We're not going to try to explain it all."

(Anna and I talked about that: "Why Room 9?"  "Well, it was right next to Room 10.  So it's real close to the rift."  "Then was it really safe to go into Room 8?"  "I guess Room 8's just a little weird."  "So you get progressively less weird as you go down the row...  What do you think happens in the motel office?"  "Water boils slightly faster.")
ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine

nebulinda

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 20
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2007, 02:59:36 PM »
You're right. I forgot about the clock. Now that you've brought it up I can remember that part better.

It really needs to come out on DVD.

sirana

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 409
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 07:10:20 AM »
What bugs me is when they take stuff that should be done well, especially really good literary properties like Earthsea or Riverworld, and make a total hash out of it. 

Let's see what HBO makes out of George R.R. Martin's "A song of ice and fire". I'll keep my fingers crossed...

ClintMemo

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 680
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2007, 01:13:26 PM »
I remember seeing both "Earthsea" and "Riverworld", having not read either book (because I'm the lamest excuse for a sf&f fan in the multiverse)  and having the same response.  "Well, this is pretty crappy, but I'll the bet the book this was based on is pretty good."
Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.

fiveyearwinter

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2007, 03:02:11 PM »
It sounds Hotel Dusk: Room 215-y.

DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT I TOLD YOU I WAS A NINTENDO DS FANBOY.

ClintMemo

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 680
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2007, 10:03:48 AM »
The lost room is coming out on DVD April 3rd.  You can pre-order it from Amazon here
http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Room-Full-Chk-Sen/dp/B000MMMTD2/sr=8-1/qid=1170946777/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-5767842-7787917?ie=UTF8&s=dvd

or deepdiscountdvd here
http://www.deepdiscount.com/viewproduct.htm?productId=8592774

or probably lots of other places, too.
Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.

SFEley

  • Autarch
  • *****
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2007, 11:44:47 AM »
The lost room is coming out on DVD April 3rd.

Huzzah!  Thanks for the news, Clint.
ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine

fiveyearwinter

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2007, 12:37:00 PM »
Woots on my birthday, too!

I'll do a formal review if EscapeArtists, Inc. buys me a present. ;)

sirana

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 409
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2007, 04:32:55 PM »
I just watched the thing in one setting (don't ask where I got it from) and damn, this is one good piece of scifi. The characters are believable and man, there was nearly no one I didn't deeply care for. And the ideas are fresh as can be.
I really like the idea of everyday (but charmingly vintage) items that have some strange power and it feels ... well ... realistic that there would be some that were useful, some that were useless and some that seemed useless, but proved useful at a crucial moment (glasses anyone?). One "magic" object is a plot device, but a hundred ones is a whole new world.
There are some small points that I didn't like (the love angle seemed a bit forced and the plot was a little bumpy in the end) but all in all I really really enjoyed it. And the little girl that played Anna is a hell of an actress.

Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2007, 01:54:41 AM »
I also saw it in the last few days (ah, Bitorrent, the new Don't Ask, Don't Tell). I liked it, and I disagree that it couldn't be a good pilot and while they did close up some plots, they left the whole Order thing up in the air, it seems from the end of the third part that the key will get out again, and then there's the whole prophet thinking he's gonna be god thing... It could make a good series, at least short term. I'm not sure they could play it out past maybe two seasons without discovering the toothpick-that-makes-sharks-jump, but I'd certainly like to see more.
I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.

sirana

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 409
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2007, 03:48:41 AM »
toothpick-that-makes-sharks-jump

nice one

contra

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
Re: The Lost Room
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2007, 05:17:15 PM »
I live in the UK; I streamed the eps off a site. 
I liked the series.  It was good; the characters for the most part were well done; and I didn't hate anyone outright (rare for me... I usually hate at least one person irrationally and can't stand them, like Starbuck (almost made me stop watching Battlestar, but then I couldn't watch Baltar be tortured) back to the point); this made me enjoy the series a lot more.
The history was not explored; such as previous people who had objects. 

And if it was made into a series it could run forever, as they mentioned that when an object is destroyed another is made... implying it has happened before. 

Though I doubt for the nect while at least, that it will be made into a series.  I heard that there are 13 s/f pilots soming to our TV's this season (heard from slice of sci fi); so any company will have to weigh up the options of making a good sci fi related to the rest.  I hope that we get mini series that have a set begining middle and end, and that don't drag on forever (like lost does), getting worse every while.  I know the issue with that is that it may not be good, and it involved taking risks, but I prefer stories to have a begining middle and end.  If not that an arc that when it is resolved they move onto another; like supernatural.  One arc is pretty much resolved, they move onto another (connected to the original). 

Enough ranting. 
Good series.  I hope to see more of it, or more like it.  However it would not be a total loss if it just remained as a mini series that stands alone well.
---
Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->