The Sci-Fi Channel has got heart and I love ’em for it, but their track record on original productions is pretty spotty. Which is why it brings me great, great joy to tell you, kind reader, that The Lost Room isn’t just worth your time, but it is the best thing the network has ever produced that isn’t called Battlerstar Galactica. It is strictly science fiction with no horror, but has such radiant imagination that I can’t resist writing about it here.
Peter Krause plays detective Joe Miller, a man who stumbles onto a case which introduces him to a motel room key. A key that can be slid into any lock on any door, opening said door into a motel room from the ’60s. Upon exiting the motel room, the key’s operator can choose where the door re-opens.
Miller soon discovers that the key is just one of at least a hundred objects from inside the motel room. Each object is indestructible and poses a, seemingly, unpredictable power. There is a comb that stops time, a pen which unleashes torrents of electricity, a knife that causes everyone in the room to fall asleep…and even a bus ticket which, when tapped on someone’s head, drops them out of the sky onto a stretch of rode outside Gallup, New Mexico.
Turns out that there are people all over the country who know about ‘the objects’ and are seeking them out in an attempt to reunite them, resulting in what they hope will be some kind of spiritual ascension. A lot of these people will do whatever it takes to get their hands on an object, which Miller quickly realizes after the man with the pen throws Miller’s daughter into the motel room and closes the door, resetting the room and, misplacing, the young girl indefinitely. Miller then becomes hell bent on tracking down the right people and right combination of objects that can bring his daughter back to him.
And that little set up is just the first third of the three part mini series. The subsequent episodes mix it all up even further, introducing more and more objects, their bizarre powers and the even more bizarre people who try to hold onto them. I’ll not go farther into the plot twists and turns, but know they are plentiful and fascinating, working together to weave a complex fantasy world where the banal is really the monumental.
The series’ creators do a remarkable job of constantly keeping the mystery fun and energetic. They assembled a great cast. Peter Krause is, as always, an effortlessly relateable screen presence and does carry the entire four and a half hours by himself, but supporting players like Peter Jacobson, Roger Bart, Julianna Margulies and even Kevin Pollak bring a good balance of helpers and villains to Krause’s altruistic quest.
The script is excellent. Granted that, save for the triumphant final scene in the motel room itself, the intensity of the conflict is never brought to breakneck pace, but it jogs at an intentionally delightful pace that gives ample time to appreciate all the nuance and endless discovery that went into what is one of the most creative sci-fi scripts ever seen on television.
I don’t know when "The Lost Room" will air again or when it comes out on DVD, but when it does, I’ll let you know. It’s a charming series with great wonder and great personality. Check it out. It’s not life changing, or even flawless, but it is thoroughly entertaining and if Sci-Fi decides to make it a regular series, I’d be all for it. God knows they should find something original to fill any one of the 40 hours per week that Stargate airs.