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October 9, 2015

The Lost Room: The Key and the Clock (series premiere)

by Keith McDuffee, posted Dec 11th 2006 10:56PM
the lost room the key
(S01E01) I know I've already given my thoughts on this show when I posted my 'early look' post last month, so I don't want to get too repetitive. The first thing I want to point out again is that this show is being shown as a one-shot deal, meaning it's showing more like a mini-series, one that will have a resolution at its end, not to return for another season. So don't be confused with my following our episode numbering format.

Like I said in my preview post, the one big gripe I have about this show is that I find it's predictable. It's strange calling this show predictable when it's just so ... odd. Some readers mentioned that the premise sounds very much like Friday the 13th: The Series. I never did catch that show, but in reading its premise I can see how it sounds uncannily similar:

  • Objects with mystical powers must be returned to the source.
  • The objects are indestructible.
  • People who have one of the objects use it for personal gain.
  • Some objects are seemingly useless unless used in a specific way.
That doesn't make this show any less interesting, though. Disappointing that it's not truly a fully unique idea, but interesting.

The most powerful item in the "lost room" is the key, we quickly learn. And the show's writers seem to have thought about what loopholes viewers might come up with and seem to have addressed most of them, such as what doors the key works on and which ones it does not work on. You'll see more of that in future episodes.

What I'm wondering right now is why Fisher doesn't attempt to leave the room through the window, though I guess it's possible the window's unbreakable. Doesn't hurt to try, and it's early yet.

I really like the idea of a one-season series or at least one that has an end in sight. This show has a good dose of sci-fi with a dash of humor here and there. I'm definitely interested to see how the shoe plays out, and I'm reasonably sure Sci-Fi won't just shitcan this show before it ends like some other networks might.

What're your thoughts on the show so far?

(Side note: The press kit for this show included a motel key just like the one pictured. Pretty cool!)

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I would love to see the detective turn around and start collecting the objects in an attempt to "normalize" his "object" status. I also think it would be interesting if the main "event" happened in another room and all the other rooms had odd effects... possibly causing the sucking in of the collector as happened in room 9. :)

December 18 2006 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter Benchley

Thought it was expertly done until the finale. Howe can so much work go into a story to give it such a terrible terrible unresolved ending. It seems to be the nature of the business now to never actually end anything. Very disappointing. You don't build to a crescendo then, NOTHING, it's just over. Leaving everything unanswered. Went from great to something I never want to see again.

December 17 2006 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do think Fisher is now an object. It makes sense that that's what would work. Only objects remain in the room once the door is closed and reopened, so Fisher had to become an object in order to stick around to see his daughter, grab her and then leave the room again.

They definitely left things open for a continuation of some sort. I'll see if I can find anything out.

December 15 2006 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

also i like the fact that the objects powers were not relevant to their structure. thats what made it fun to watch, and somewhat unpredictable.

December 14 2006 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The series was left extremely open to more story. almost every aspect was left open, such as the bad detective becoming a prophet, miller becoming an object, no reasoning to the event or objects.... etc.

i so hope not a series but another miniseries being this was the BEST thing sci fi ever premiered, because every one of their movies is just HORRIBLE!(EVERY ONE OF THEIR MOVIES, they're as bad as troma films)

I LOVED This and cant wait for the DVD

December 14 2006 at 6:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carl Schroeder

I too was gripped by the Lost Room journey and disappointed by the non-ending. I don't think the writers lacked imagination, they hinted at big ideas like fragments of God or a test of God. I think they simply sold out and left loose ends for the hope of a series, which they ironically may not get just because they sacrificed a great ending. But I was also disappointed all along that the Objects didn't have powers that were a) more symbolic of the function of the mundane object, so they could indeed be Ideals (example: comb could change appearance, rather than unrelatedly stop time), and b) the powers of the Objects didn't constitute a partitioning of the universe's physical laws, as might come out of a hyperdimensional room that's a universe in itself. Who cares about cooking an egg with a watch, the watch could affect time, the umbrella affect gravity (stops falling), the glasses affect electromagnetism, something for nuclear strong and weak, etc. Then we might believe that smart people could deduce and hypothesize Object powers and even locations, instead of the show having us believe that somehow people figured out all these arcane functions and, worse, can track Objects around the world as if they were radioactive. That might have required more education and research, perhaps the writers got too lazy to really invoke the cosmic. Lastly, for a precedent of re-assembling objects for some way to unlock the universe, does anyone recall Dr. Who The Keys of Time? There were six keys of power scattered and disguised as ordinary objects, and the final key was in fact a person! Sound familiar? Yes the Lost Room had precedents, some even more daring, since that Dr. Who miniseries began and concluded with appearances by God (or a God).

December 14 2006 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to know what it's all about. No explanation in the end as to what happened to cause that room and the objects in it to be special. No explanation as to what that man who was in the room saw or could add to the story. Yes he was an object, and had some power to keep the other objects away from him. Very complicated, it seems like someone has an idea of where this all goes but they didn't share it with us in the mini-series.

Is there a book out there this was based on? I wanted answers, after the fist 2 hours I considered the possibility that

December 14 2006 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
G. P. Keith

More thoughts on The Lost Room.
The ideas (one might almost say "Ideas") in this mini-series were powerful.
First, there was the fate of the Occupant, whose life was erased. This uses the fundamental existential principal proposed by Philip MacDonald in his powerful 1949 short story "Private - Keep Out!", about people who come too close to coming to see the single fundamental ideal underpinning all reality being erased: their existence in all time deleted, and the world's threads sealed around that deletion.
Second, is the idea of the Objects, an interesting treatment of the Ideas concept proposed by Plato (where horses are all expressions of the single Idea "horse"; and where the sensible world is merely an agglomeration of such copies, and thus itself a copy of the Real world of the Ideas). The intrusion of actual Ideas, or in this case, Objects, into the sensory universe, creates a situation of intoxicating possibilities. Charles Williams made a valiant attempt at exploring this in his The Place of the Lion, and The Lost Room taps into the same source of wonder. The concept that each Object has its own Property is also interesting, in the sense that we humans, loving to categorize, group operations or functions as well as object types; thus, elemental operations, both real (rotation: scissors), and unreal (stopping time: comb), hypostatized by their linkage with these in some way elemental Objects, it intensely attractive. It brings forth the prospect of the combination, interaction, or competition of such Operations. Just look at the game of paper-rock-scissors, or the child's questions such as: which would win in a fight between a monkey and a dog?
Both of Occupant and Objects are beautifully represented in most of the story of The Lost Room. The distinction between living and non-living, however, was disappointing; that difference is fundamental to the human mind - which is why things like viruses are so perplexing, and why a story of possessed objects (e.g., the movie Killdozer) are so fascinating - in which the distinction is broken.
Still more interesting, however, and tied in with both Objects and Occupant, is the Event that produced them. This brings up the idea of source and causation to Olympian heights by positing both that are beyond the ordinary, so much so that this vast situation is created as a consequence.
The idea of a central event, fundamental to such religions as Christianity (Christ and the Redemption), Judaism (the covenants), and Buddhism (the discovery of the four noble truths), is intoxicating to us humans, who are always, by definition, living at the end of time. The predicament of finite beings living in an infinite universe (in space and time both) is the sense of positionlessness. The seemingly endless unrolling of time, combined with vastness of space, make our sense of our selves infinitely insignificant, which, as Douglas Adams observed, is literally maddening. The feeling is there that, if we only could understand that event, then everything else would be put into perspective, and life have some meaning for us, to fight the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" of the "tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing" that threatens to crush us with meaninglessness and thus valuelessness.
Hopefully this mini-series will not be made into a series. Maybe a serial, a serial of limited length, in which more of the fundamentals of the ideas posited in this three-part original would be explored. I often think, however, that questions are often left unanswered in fantastic storytelling because the writers don't have the imagination to bring home the right answer, the answer that fulfills, that is as big as the question. Perhaps it would be better for this story to die the quiet death of its final third installment. We appear to be living increasingly in an age of fascistic impositions of trite value systems; I don't think a truly great Answer would be tolerated or perhaps even imagined.

December 13 2006 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
G. P. Keith

Just finished watching the third and final episode. What a disappointment! The impact of both the climax and the conclusion did not match the thoroughly intoxicating build-up.
First of all, the Occupant remained a question rather than a fundamental element. That, handled correctly, would have been okay (questions haunt), but it was not.
Second, the occupant's misery in his existence was not fully communicated. He merely asked to be put to death; he did not plead (could have been done without over-drama; he could simply have ground out his despair in an ashen voice). The request, put this way, made the act of the protagonist immoral: the buying of a life he valued (his daughter) with a life he did not. That single fact opened the bottom out of the entire work; if he were as immoral as so many of the others obsessed with the various goals associated with the objects, then that should have been hinted at. Bad writing.
Finally, while love is a fundamental, primary and elemental value that humans value above all else, the saving of his daughter seemed, somehow, too small (and, finally, too easy) for the six hours of the series.
The climax is the payoff of a story; here there was too little payoff. One does not need rockets going off, screaming and the like - necessarily. One only needs the sense of importance. Like the taut stillness of Moses at the burning bush in The Ten Commandments (not the climax but a climax of sorts), like the wonderful, haunting climaxes in David Mason's novels: Kavin, The Return of Kavin, and The Deep Gods - in each there is the same taut stillness that takes the breath away; for in those scenes, something fundamental to the world of the entire story in each cases ... changes. And that change is the payoff.
A concomitant element missing in the climax was the payment required for the climax to occur at all. The payment, if it was the protagonist making himself a murderer, was entirely inappropriate: he bought himself a ticket to damnation, not grace. A ratcheting up of effort might have performed the same function, the best example that comes to mind being the mother's final fight for her daughter in Poltergeist, a truly masterful piece of story-telling by Spielberg: the mother is thrown from the room, thrown down the stairs, thrown out of the house, fighting and losing at each step, but never giving up. Then she slips into the pool, and down into the deep end (wonderful symbolism), and floats about with the skeletons there. There is no rising sense of effort and desperation in the hero. Everything is simply flat.
In fact, finally and horribly disapppointly, the Occupant, his story, and the Event that took place all those years ago, are far more interesting than the fundamentally mundane story of a father rescuing his child. Could have been otherwise if written differently, but wasn't.

December 13 2006 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barbara jones

I think it is a great show and it doesn't matter if it is a lot like another show. What show isn't either a remake of another one or like another one? Why not just enjoy it? I, for one, am enjoying the heck out of "The lost room" and I love that Miss Dakota Fanning has a sister that is as good an actor as she is. I just hate that we didn't get to see her in every scene! I hope this show does turn into a really long series. I hope all of the characters keep getting lost and having to get found. I hope Lou is alive on some other plain and is found and brought back.....it could go on for a long time!!!!

December 13 2006 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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