The fourth season of Room 104 premieres on HBO July 24. The series, from Mark and Jay Duplass, looks at a single room at a hotel, and all the funky stuff that happens in the room over time. HBO announced it is the final season, and the producers are keen to keep it going.
“We hear, you’ve done 48 episodes inside those four walls--that’s enough,” said Mark, an executive producer. “The truth is, we have more ideas. We hope somehow, somewhere, there’s a new version of this show.”
Room 104 could take on another format, he added, such as a podcast.
Exec producer Mel Eslyn said Room 104 has “limitless possibilities.”
“We would love to do season five, six, seven,” she said.
But for now, it’s just season four.
Kicking off the season, Mark Duplass will watch seasons one, two and three July 24, live tweeting all the while from @MarkDuplass. HBO is calling it “Open the Door to @MarkDuplass’ Mind.”
Eslyn said they formalized the writers’ room more for season four than they had in previous years. That would see the producers in a room together more than in seasons past, brainstorming ideas. “We’d talk about what was left inside of us, what we hadn’t explored in that room,” she said.
The first episode, called The Murderer, is a fun one. A group of friends that are obsessed with this singer-songwriter who disappeared off the face of the earth after putting out an album as a teen finds the guy and gets him to perform in room 104. “I’m obsessed by what it means to be a fan,” said Mark, noting how music zealots tend to “take great joy out of pain” when listening to their favorite artists.
Mark Duplass approached his friend Mark Kozelek, who has sung for Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters, about playing the part of long-lost singer Graham. Kozelek turned it down, so Duplass, who has a musical background, took it on himself. He loved the idea of a mythologized, super-cool artist turning up in modern day, looking like a “sad uncle” in cargo shorts and cheesy golf shirt.
Eslyn loves the episode called “The Last Man”. “It pushes the boundaries of staying in the room more than the others,” she said. “And we got to have a swordfight!”
Exec producer Sydney Fleischmann directed her first episode, the season finale titled “Generations”. It’s about an older man reflecting on his life. Fleischmann envisioned her two 92-year-old grandfathers as the episode came together. “They’re in the winter of their lives, assessing the lives they’ve lived,” she said.
Mark Duplass mentioned the “conscious uncoupling” of he and brother Jay over the course of the series, as the longtime partners pushed each other to find unique voices to take part in the series, and share the storytelling load. “It energized me, and it kept the show from becoming repetitive,” he said.
Jay of course played Josh Pfefferman on Transparent.
Asked for his favorite Room 104 episode, Mark mentioned a musical one, entitled “Arnold”, from season two. The episodes that took big risks, he said, ended up among his favorites. “That one not only didn’t fall on its face, but was one of our more creative and most successful episodes,” he said.
Eslyn said Room 104 “took a lot of storytelling risks” over the course of its run.
As they prepare to sign off, Eslyn will miss getting photos of friends in front of various hotels’ room 104s. Working on the show has changed her relationships with hotels.
“I always think something’s up in the bathroom,” she said. “And I definitely look under the bed.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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