The Lost Room

Despite the fact that I’m currently getting crushed in my Weblog Awards category, I just wanted to mention that I found myself pretty engrossed in the new Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, The Lost Room, which debuted last night (the series runs through Wednesday). The series focuses on Police Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause) who discovers a motel key that allows its possessor to open any door into the mysterious Room 10 of the Sunshine Motel, which serves as a kind of portal allowing you to travel virtually anywhere, with the room magically resetting every time the door is re-opened. As the Sci-Fi Channel plot summary reveals, the mundane contents of the room (a bus ticket, eyeglasses, and a ball point pen, among others) all take on unique powers. The bus pass, for example, allows its possessor to “zap” anyone who approaches out to a distant highway in Gallup, New Mexico.

Of course, possession of one of these Objects poses any number of psychological and physical risks, as Miller quickly learns. One of the subplots of the series is Miller’s custody battle over his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning), who vanishes when the door to Room 10 closes and the room resets to its original state. Anna’s disappearance sets in motion Miller’s attempts to recover additional Objects that might allow him to rescue her. And because the Objects posseess such useful powers, other collectors seek to possess as many Objects as possible. The room’s powers are, thankfully, never fully explained. There are some vague supernatural speculations, but at least in the first episode, the mystery is left relatively open.

My interest in the series derives in part from the vaguely nostalgic style of the series. Room 10, as the SciFi Channel’s description suggests, suggests those lonely hotel rooms that dotted Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles during the 1950s and ’60s, while Detective Miller, in some ways, recalls the hard-boiled detective of film noir (including some nice low-key lighting during several key sequences). I’m not yet ready to come to any conclusions about The Lost Room, but so far it’s good pulpy fun. Also check out the Pop Matters review and the discussion at TV with MeeVee.

33 Comments »

  1. ANDYhorbal Said,

    December 12, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

    How often did you say we could vote?

  2. Chuck Said,

    December 12, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

    You get one vote every 24 hours per computer.

  3. Orion Said,

    December 13, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    Nomination for best gag in any film ever:

    This is not Hell!

    This is New Mexico!

    Nomination for best gag in any film ever:

    This is not Hell!

    This is New Mexico!

  4. Chuck Said,

    December 13, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

    That was a nice moment. You have to wonder if one of the writers is from Gallup.

  5. Kyle Killough Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 1:15 am

    Yes, very veeerrry good writing for the show, lots of twists and turns, smart/witty dialogue, rich characters, unique ideas, just the right amount of unexplained and mysterious things (except, what happens to Det. Miller now that he’s an object, what of the order and their quest, is the Legion finished, what happened to what’s his face with the eye,and who gets the key now?) I agree, the bus ticket grafitti bit was brilliant.

    Kyle

  6. Ian Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 3:09 am

    I really liked the show and I hope that the Sci-Fi Channel decides to make either a movie about it or at the least a full series about the other (About 100) items. The fact that the third and final episode has an annoying cliffhanger when the door isn’t closed makes the perfect situation for it.

  7. Chuck Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 11:08 am

    Ian, if the spike in my blog traffic is any indication, The Lost Room generated a lot of interest (traffic here has more than doubled over the last two days).

    Kyle, yes, lots of good stuff here. The transformation of Ruber into a “prophet” isn’t all that interesting to me, but the show has done a good job of producing characters whose agendas often compete but sometimes overlap. And the puzzle aspect is intriguing.

  8. Bill Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

    The Lost Room was a great ride. The story was unique and involving. I won’t be surprised if some cult develops around “objects”. Especially, since the ending did not really solve the mystery. We’ll see if Sci-Fi picks this up as a series. It has the potential to grow old fast, however.

  9. ANGELA Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

    Really enjoyed this miniseries! I hardly ever watch the sci-fi channel but I happened to come across the show when it was on and it grabbed my attention. It has however left me with a lot of questions. Does anybody know how the room became to be? Was it some sort of governmental experiment??? This reminds me of something J.J. Abrams would produce. I think it has the potential of being a very good thing for the sci-fi channel!!

  10. Chuck Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

    Bill, I think there’s a risk that TLR could grow old quickly. It might be difficult to sustain the miniseries’ sense of discovery and its pulpy tone over the course of a longer series.

    Angela, hopefully if there’s a longer series, those larger questions will be explored. There was never a thorough explanation of the date. Why is 1961 significant, other than as a moment in the relatively distant past? Again, the show’s “puzzle” and conspiracy aspects are rather initing.

  11. Tulipgirl Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 3:10 pm

    The show left too many unanswered questions. It’s like the writer had lots of half ideas. Hopefully, that was not the case, and the half ideas were set-ups for more episodes.

    I think another mini-series that will explain and conclude the first mini-series is needed for the first mini-series not to come off as half done and stupid.

    All that being said; we really enjoyed “The Lost Room” My 10 year old and I started collecting our own “objects” and assigning different powers to each one. My favorite is the baby rattle that takes 10 years off of your age for one week. I actually tried it out(just playin around)and my daughter seemed dissapointed when I still looked 43.

  12. Chuck Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

    You know, I’d love to have an Object that would take ten years off my age (even if it only lasts for a few days!), especially since my recent birthday has me feeling slightly more mortal than usual.

    TLR is certainly flawed, and more explanations are needed to resolve some of the loose ends. You may be right that a second miniseries might be enough. I’m not convinced that the premise could sustain a longer series.

  13. The Herald Crow Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

    This is an wonderful story, and I would say that the ‘loose ends’ are there for a reason – It makes a wonderful effect, in my opinion, even if the series is not extended.

    I find “The Law of Conservation of Objects” to be a contradiction to the story. The alleged “Prime Object” being replaced after it is destroyed. The Legion is set out to destroy the objects > yet there is no meantion of ‘the Law’ when it comes to the other objects.

    example, perhaps > if the comb was destroyed inside the Room, then according to the Law, another object would take it’s place as an Object.

    I’m looking for props from the series to buys > drop me a line if any turn up..

    (theeyeballkidd@hotmail.com)

  14. Kelli1969 Said,

    December 14, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

    I loved it… I work many hours during the week and caught the number of shows over the weekend making sure I caught the last one…

    As any book, I loved the cliffhanger of small chance w/ continued episodes… actually, I would look forward to see if something continues..

  15. Adeptis Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 10:15 am

    Chuck, i don’t think the legion had the means to destroy the object. acctually I think they can only be destroyed inside the room. but I think the legion was putting the somewhere where others couldn’t get them, like the collectors. but thats just my theroy. =)

  16. Chuck Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 11:11 am

    Comments contain spoilers galore.

    Adeptis: good point. Given that they can only destroy Objects in the room and that they can’t get into the room without a key, I suppose it would be kind of hard for them to destroy Objects.

    The Herald Crow: I understood the series to reveal that there was no Prime Object, but I suppose the guy in the room could be wrong about that.

    Kelli1969: I’m guessing SciFi is watching online discussion boards, blogs, and (of course) ratings to see if there’s potential for a series. It’s an interesting way to test/promote potential series, so we’ll see how it goes with TLR.

  17. The Herald Crow Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

    Identification of the Prime Object:

    Look at the characteristics and definition of the Objects:

    >>Each Object is indestructable and has a unique ability or abilities, but these abilities do not function within the Room. And they draw their Owners to one another.If the Room is an Object, who is the Owner?

    The question should be taken simple. The Owner of the Room was first to be the Occupant, the first Owner of the Key. The Ownership of the Room passed from person to person along with the Key – this is why the room can only be accessed by the Owner of the Key. In this way, the Key and Room have passed to others, just as they would have passed to the next occupant of the Room, had the Event had not occured.

    ->How is the Room the Prime Object?

    The Occupant stated that, “There is no Prime Object,” but the statement was made concerning himself, as a singularity, and according to what he knew.

    Behind all this, is the reasoning that caused the Order to seek and gather all the Objects and returning them to their Source. In knowing that no Object will work inside the Room, we know that it governs all Objects, when they are intact with it. We could even say, since all Objects came from the Room, that their power did not come until they were removed. And by this we can assume that the Occupant left the Room, taking the Key with him. As to what happened when the original Occupant left, there is no basis for assumption.

    Hope you enjoy these theories..

    The Herald Crow
    KY COL. G.K. Farmer

  18. The Herald Crow Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

    Kelli and Chuck

    Objects can be destroyed in the Room. This was proven when the Occupant was killed inside the room. But according to what the Occupant said, if any object is destroyed something else will take it’s place as an object, as I said in my first post: “If the comb was destroyed inside the Room, then according to the Law (of Conservation of Objects), another object would take it’s place as an Object.” Just as Joe Miller became an object, when he decided to kill the Occupant. Because the Key is the only entrance into the Room, to the Legion it would be a most important object in their goal.

    As the series ends – Joe Miller is an Object himself, and he is no longer the Owner of the Key. Just imagine how this will play out, if/when they decide to make this into a show.

  19. Chuck Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    The Herald Crow: Some interesting suggestions here. I may have misspoke when I said Objects cannot be destroyed because they obviously *can* be destroyed in the room, albeit with the consequence of creating another Object.

    Interesting reading of the room itself as an Object, possibly the Prime Object, but that assumes there is a Prime Object as the Occupant points out. And certainly the key is crucial to control over the room and, therefore, the Objects themselves.

    I think I’m more interested in the choice of a 1960s-era hotel room as the highly-charged location at the center of the narrative. Why that particular time? Why a lonely hotel on a lonely highway?

  20. The Herald Crow Said,

    December 15, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

    I want to thank you for this blog. I just can’t get enough of a good story, once I’ve had a little bit. I’m ready to watch the series again, they’re showing all three in order this Sunday.

    The location and time period are very important for building this story. It gives it a great amount of mystery – like trying to solve a forty year old crime. These may also be important, if only in our assumption, of what exactly happened at the Event. Of course these: New Mexico, Desert, Science(fiction) – will provoke all sorts of ideas.

    Concerning my two prior posts. I keep thinking that perhaps the character, the Occupant, either knew more than he would say, or he was insane because of what had happened to him – maybe both. And it seems to me, that the Room is meant to be the primary focus – and it’s easy to understand why the Objects can obscure the focus.

    I’m thinking of it this way:
    The Event caused the Room to disappear from our known reality. This room became a Singular Object, in other words the Prime Object, being complete with all the Objects in the Room when the Event occured. When the Occupant first left the room, and Objects were taken out of the Room, the Prime Object became broken, or uncomplete. Perhaps this is why the Prime Object is said to be simply a theory. And maybe the Occupant knew of this, and why he rejected the idea of him being that Prime Object – in such, that he was simply a portion of the Prime Object. But this surely seems to play into the intent of the Order – seeking to bring all the Objects together.

    If this series continues into a show, or another series, I would surely like to see the past events. The Event itself may never be explained, even if there is a continuence of the story.

    It seems to me that the Key and the Undeveloped Photograph are the primary Objects needed to restore all the objects to the room – But only the Occupant would be powerful enough to gather them > securing the need for Joe Miller in the character fold.

    I apologize if I am taking all this speculation too far.. I just love this.. It’s like being a kid and wanting to be a superhero, only with a twist. And if I could ever be in the Lost Room, I would certainly take the sheets.

    Thanks

  21. Chuck Said,

    December 16, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    THC, good points about the setting, and our associations with New Mexico. Funny, I wondered why the bed and sheets weren’t considered Objects, but I suppose they would be rather inconvenient (you couldn’t really carry them around).

    The references to the past were interesting, particularly the home movie that the hotel’s janitor showed Joe at one point.

  22. The Herald Crow Said,

    December 16, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

    Here is a list of the Objects (known of)

    Objects Taken:
    Ashtray, Bar of Soap, Bible, Blanket, Bus Ticket, Two Chairs, Chest of Drawers, Clock, Coat, Comb, Two Cufflinks, Deck of Cards, Desk, Desk Chair, Dres Shirt, Drinking Glass, Eyeglasses, Family Photo, Flask, Floor Lamp, Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder, Glass Eye, Ice Bucket, Room Key, Kleenex, Knife, Lamp, Letter Opener, Liquor Bottle, Matchbook, “Life” Magazine, Magnifying Glass, Nail Clippers, Nail File, Newspaper, The Occupant Eddie McCleister, Pack of Cigarettes, Pants, Pen, Pencil, Undeveloped Polaroid, Postcard, Quarter, Radio, Razor, Ruler, Scissors, Shoes, Shoelaces, Shoehorn, “Dress Parade” Shoe Polish, Shot glass, Socks, Suit Jacket, Suitcase, Three Table Lamps, Necktie, Toothbrush, Umbrella, Wallet, Watchbox, Wristwatch, Flashlight, Rabbits Foot, & Tweezers.

    Objects in the Lost Room:
    Bed, Curtains, Dresser, Hanger, Pillows, Sheets, Telephone, & Television.

    Some of the Objects abilities are considered “Dorment” or “Unknown”

    Perhaps this is because no one has found the way to access the Objects abilities – as with the Quarter, which must be swallowed in order to work.

    The Toothbrush has no [known] individual powers, but is one of the seven Objects used in the Conroy Experiment.

    We can sort of estimate, from the list of objects, what belonged to the Occupant, and what belonged to the Hotel. I like assuming what the Occupant took with him, when he first left the Room – from the series we know of at least two: The Key, and the Photograph of him and his wife.

    I got most of this info from Wikipedia. You can find it by searching “Lost Room Objects” on Google – the three top pages in the search.

    Hope you enjoy this info as much as I have – it may give us a window as to what may take place if the story continues.

  23. Andy H. Said,

    December 18, 2006 @ 9:32 am

    Well, you got a higher percentage of the electorate than Ralph Nader in the Weblog awards! I did my best to help both of you, but alas…

  24. Chuck Said,

    December 18, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

    Andy, I may have topped Nader, but even Ross Perot in 1992 got a highre percentage of votes than I did, and that’s just sad.

    THC, thanks for the update. I skimmed the Wikipedia entry but didn’t get a chance to rewatch TLR when it played on Sunday (I was traveling).

    While I’m thinking about it, TV with MeeVee has a pretty thorough account of the third episode.

  25. jim Said,

    December 20, 2006 @ 12:23 am

    I failed to get the very end on my VCR. Can someone tell me what happened. The last thing I got was his throwing the key into the room, them driving away, and the room with the key re-appearing.

  26. Charles Miller Said,

    December 20, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    I too followed the SciFi Channel hype and anxiously awaited the debut of “The Lost Room”… Which was intriguing for its first installment, weaker in its second installment, and a real let-down in its finale.

    I mean, the only thing that wasn’t predictable was the number of “Objects” that Room 10 could possibly contain… I was waiting for “The Dirty Socks” and “The Skid-Marked Boxer Shorts” to make an important appearance, and maybe “The Used Condom” would imbue the possessor with giant blue balls or something.

    To me, “The Lost Room” came across as pretty lame and not terribly original… If it had been set in the 1930s, it could pass for the missing episodes of “Carnivale” (which had a predictable stinker of a finale, as well). It’s been said elsewhere that “The Lost Room” is nothing more than the script of a video game (collect all the objects and gain new powers), written by a computer geek who overdosed on HBO programming and sold the idea as the pilot for a series — so, you can expect more of “The Lost Room” in the future on the SciFi Channel, to be sure, and probably a spin-off game for your PC.

  27. Chuck Said,

    December 20, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

    Jim, as far as I can recall, that was more or less the ending of the show, unless I missed something.

    Charles, I think the connection with gaming is what makes the series interesting to me, the intersection between different kinds of narratives. But I’ll agree that the first episode was the strongest of the three.

  28. Mr. Prime Said,

    December 22, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

    Some things to consider or ponder:

    • What might it look like when peering though a door that has at least a small clear glass window in it when the Key in inserted into its lock and opened. At some point the actual space behind the door should disappear and the bright sunlight of 1:20PM New Mexico in 1961 should begin streaming through. Same in reverse when the door is closed. Or does a door containing a window not work as a portal to the Room (as a door without a lock also won’t work).

    • Obviously (as others here have speculated) there are still other “Objects” in the room that clearly have powers when removed. Det. Joe prooved this when he wore the black (wool?) Coat which protected him from the shotgun pellets (likely only because Objects can not be damaged or destroyed in the real world). What might the Coat’s actual powers be? As someone else suggested, what might the sheets or pillows (or mattress or bed frame) do? Also I’d think that the television and telephone, once removed, could be significant. How about the properties of a nice glass of tap water from the bathroom, brought out of the Room?

    • What would it look like if the window, though which the early afternoon sunlight eternally streams, were to be opened? What if someone were to climb out of the window? Theoretically, (assuming that the window can actually be opened or broken and the Room allows one to climb out) that should place you back into the (real?) world of Gallup, New Mexico in May of 1961.

    • The Occupant that Det. Joe found indicated that room doesn’t “reset” as much as there are many different copies of the original room. Does this mean that there are a finite number of Room “instances”? Or do these alternate rooms regenerate from the “master” copy of the room every time the door is closed (without the key in it).

    • What would happen if someone were to enter the Room with the key and break through the wall shared by room #10 and room #9 (say with an axe or sledge hammer). This seems like it should be possible since everything in the Room is an Object and Objects are destructable only in the Room (as far as we know). Therefore portions of the walls of the room should be able to be cut or smashed. Then possibly room #9 could be accessed. So, either another portal door could be accessed (via room #9’s door) or room #9 (and #8, .etc) are simply part of the rest of the 1961 New Mexico world (as one might access by climbing out the window of the Room). I think this is more likely since rooms 1 through 9 physically exist in real space/time, and #10 apparently doesn’t.

    • How much time elapses when someone enters the Room with the Key? Since it’s always 1:20PM on entry to the Room, does spending time in the room elapse outside in the real world? Remember how quickly Det. Joe was able to access the money needed by the Dry Cleaning lady? He appeared to be gone for only about 5 seconds.
  29. Jim Said,

    December 24, 2006 @ 2:08 am

    I don’t know if anyone else remembers an episode of gilligans island where Bob Newhart visited, and everyone seemed to know him, but forgot him after he left. He carried an umbrella.

    I’m wondering if the umbrella reference was about that.

  30. Charles Miller Said,

    December 29, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

    “How much time elapses when someone enters the Room with the Key?”

    I think the INTENT of the key-user determines the length of time that passes… Remember, the room can somehow (although never explained) transport the key-user to any LOCATION the key-user INTENDS to visit. When Joe Miller is repeatedly zapped to Gallup by the Bus Ticket, he uses the Key to repeatedly return to the hospital — interestingly, while several minutes pass for Joe as he figures out the teleportation trick, he still manages to capture the ticket-user within a matter of seconds at the hospital.

    So I think Room 10 can teleport the key-user to any TIME the key-user intends, as well — which was also demonstrated when Joe instantly retrieved $5000 to pay the object-locating woman. Walk in the door and a second later walk out of the door with a wad of cash (which required SOME amount of time to obtain). Joe INTENDED to return to the same place and time, and he did so — which means that Room 10 can teleport you BACK in time.

    But this brings up an interesting and inconvenient problem for the storyline: Joe Miller is a very smart guy — he MUST be aware of the time warp effect, right? Hmmm? So… Why didn’t he just INTEND himself to the time and place that his daughter disappeared and prevent it from happening? Ooops.

    I’m sure the screenwriters must have pondered this discrepancy, but they didn’t even attempt to address it. It was little flaws such as this that soured me on the overall storyline.

  31. Room10 Said,

    January 14, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

    Charles you are off target with your “time warp” theory. He cannot travel to any time he wishes, either backwards or forwards. He can only use the key to teleport himself to any location all of which happens in real time.

  32. keisha perkins Said,

    November 6, 2008 @ 1:38 am

    I was so over taken by the thought that it could very well be possible. I mean if we look at physics and other deminsions theories, even the celestine phrophecy theory, many others. This has taken my mind to another levelof question of what could be possible

  33. Ricardo Said,

    October 12, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Wat happend to the occupant right eye?

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