If you’re a fan of supernatural/science fiction mystery shows, like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stranger Things, The X Files, Lost, or, to a lesser extent, Dark you’ll want to see this. The Lost Room was, hands down, the best thing ever produced by the Sci-Fi channel. (Yeah, I realize that’s not a high bar. Bear with me). Why haven’t you heard of it? Well, nobody has. Apparently it had record low ratings and I’ve yet to meet anybody who’s seen this without me telling them about it. However, The Lost Room is one of those rare shows where everybody I’ve recommended it to has loved it. It was incredibly well done and holds up really well on a rewatch. There’s a few reasons for this, but let’s start with:
Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause) comes into possession of a hotel key that makes any door open into a 1960’s hotel room somewhere in the desert. Once in the room the occupant can exit through any other door in the world. While Joe is trying to sort out how all this works, he loses something important in the room, and spends the rest of the series tying to get it back. Through this process he encounters other seemingly ordinary objects that have the ability to manipulate reality, and discovers there are plenty of people that want his room key.
Now, what makes this work so well?
The writing is tight.
The effect these objects have on people and the world around them is well thought out. The series explores some interesting drawbacks that come with the objects. These are not obvious things but when presented make perfect sense. The plot is also driven by a stated property of the objects that they attract each other. Hold one, and you’ll find another…or another will find you.
The objects themselves
The objects have advantages and disadvantages. The weird things that they can do make them more or less desirable in any given situation. For example, the watch will cook a perfect hard-boiled egg. This is introduced by a character saying, “Don’t ask me how they figured that one out”, to tell the viewer that these things are poorly understood at best. Then there’s the pen, (that is used in a homicide at the start of the series) proving it is definitely mightier than the sword. The key, the photograph, the quarter, the scissors, the bus ticket—all of these things have their own roles to play in building the world of The Lost Room.
The characters are great
Being a Detective, Miller can read people, think things through, and handle himself on the street, making him the ideal person to start solving the mystery of the objects. He’s also smart and has a few tricks up his sleeve, which keeps things interesting and the audience entertained as he works his way out of jams. His opponents are just as smart and have their own reasons for gathering the objects. Nobody sees themselves as the bad guy in this, which makes it even more interesting.
The actors are great
Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Kevin Pollak are in this, so if you’re a fan, there’s your rationale.
Its a six episode commitment.
Bang. Done. Story told, central mystery solved. You know what happened, even if they don’t get too far into the how or the why (which to be fair, might detract from the whole thing by over explaining it—I’m looking at you midi-chlorians). The few loose ends left could have set up another round of storytelling in the world of The Lost Room but I definitely didn’t feel like the time I’d put into this show had been wasted (*cough*Lost*cough*).
And it’s available for download
Now, where to find it? The Lost Room can be downloaded from Amazon Video or you can order the six hour DVD set for about $10 from Amazon as well. That’s less than the cost of a movie ticket and I can guarantee you it’s more entertaining than most things in theaters this time of year. So if you’re looking for a new series in this mid-season dry spell, The Lost Room is definitely worth a look.