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Is That a Comb in Your Pocket?

As of this writing, I’ve only seen parts 1 and 2 of the Sci-Fi Channel’s three-part, six-hour miniseries The Lost Room — about the strange properties imparted on a series of ordinary objects following a horrific 1961 incident in a New Mexico roadside inn — but it’s silly and suspenseful enough to have me checking in for a third night’s stay. (The whole thing repeats this Sunday.) Peter Krause plays a Pittsburgh detective who, thanks to a mysterious motel-room key that can turn any door into a dimensional portal, enters into a world of peril involving a comb that can stop time, a pen that can microwave your insides, evil and/or desperate hunter-collectors of said objects, a loony religious cult that considers the objects clues to the mind of God, the murder of a close friend, and the time-space disappearance of his daughter. The pace is suitably frantic — door-opening farce, one could say — so for those already tired of sussing out the mythology of a multiyear saga like Lost it’s nice to have twists and revelations and cool shit happening every commercial break as opposed to every few weeks. And while the quest story has the inevitable whiff of The Lord of the Rings about it, even if the magical items in question aren’t quite as ominous-sounding — “and one comb shall rule them all” doesn’t have the same tone, you must admit — the episodes almost feel more like sci-fi Hitchcock than anything else. It’s the uranium from Notorious, the spy secrets from North by Northwest, the money in Psycho: stuff wildly important to the characters, but for us just an excuse to enjoy a chase. So in a sense, before having even seen Part 3, I know the secret to the lost room: It’s a MacGuffin storage area.


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