Make ‘Room’ for New Sci-Fi Series?

After-parties are so much better when the movie doesn’t suck. So it was with Sci-Fi’s new miniseries The Lost Room, which premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET and continues the next two nights.

At Stone Rose in the AOL Time Warner Center, cast and crew mingled with the suits following a screening of the taut, engagingly nutty first installment. While waitresses in sleeveless black mini-dresses served “Lostmopolitan” cocktails, corporate reps touted the miniseries as a shrewd departure from giant-insect fare. “We’re thinking of it as a backdoor pilot,” said Scott Collins, vice president of ad sales for NBC Universal, between bites of his Kobe beef skewer.

The Lost Room centers on a key that opens the titular hotel room-cum-space portal that lets visitors travel virtually anywhere. This way-station also contains household objects endowed with strange powers—a pen that can electrocute, a bus ticket that can beam people to the sticks, etc. A divorced Pittsburgh detective (Emmy nom Peter Krause of Six Feet Under) losing his daughter (Elle Fanning, Dakota’s little sis) in the room sets the central drama in motion.

“The script reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Ark,” said Krause. “It has that sense of fun, and you still care about the characters. It was great for me, too, because I was sick of playing characters who are so neurotic and upset all the time.”

Admittedly, it takes a few scenes to accept oh-so-sensitive Nate Fisher kicking ass and taking names. But it happens. And Krause’s warmth deepens the father-daughter relationship. Castmate Julianna Margulies added, “The script came from Sci-Fi and I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t watch that shit. I’m a girl.’ Then I heard Peter was attached. I went, ‘Hmm, he always picks good projects.’”

One partygoer, however, cautioned against getting too buzzed on the series’ potential. Media buyer Roy Currlin of Carat USA said, “Miniseries have huge drop-offs. Lonesome Dove was the only one that never did. Plus, Sci-Fi has to build its brand. You know what’s on now? Wrestling.”

Fair enough, but what better way to build a brand than by making a worthwhile miniseries that courts the, well, Lost crowd, while offering up a mythology that’s uniquely its own? As for a series, the only keys to that are time—and ratings.

By Guest Blogger Tim Coleman