The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Lost Room - a lost sci-fi TV series.

The Lost Room is a great, relatively unknown, sci-fi tv mini-series. It is relatively unknown for a reason: the Sci Fi Channel pulled the plug after just six episodes. Their decision is baffling from an artistic point of view.

The Lost Room is quite simply the most absorbing and intriguing television mini-series I can recall ever seeing. Normally, I am not one to watch much television - indeed, I avoid it as much as I can - but, on borrowing the DVD for The Lost Room mini-series from our local video store, I found myself enchanted by a most unusual storyline.

The Lost Room relates the tale of a strange event that brings many indestructible, everyday objects with magical powers into being. The story sets up a mystery as to where these objects come from and what they do. One key object to the tale is, well, a key, that opens any door, onto a motel room in a parallel universe. From this parallel universe, the key bearer, can re-enter our world, at any location, through any door. It is, if you like, a modified teleportation device.

The central character in the Lost Room is Detective Joe Miller, a homicide detective, who stumbles into this strange world of bizarre objects and the shadowy organizations that hunt them down, while investigating a murder. His life becomes decidedly strange overnight, filled with unexpected occurrences and magical happenings. Though played in a low key fashion, Peter Krause, (Nate Fisher from Six Feet Under) makes the lead character sympathetic for the audience and draws us into his world, his situation and his dilemmas. It is interesting to see how an otherwise ordinary, but fairly intelligent man, copes with his world suddenly being transformed into one where strange powers abound.

I found the whole show spellbinding - oddly compulsive viewing. The story has about it the peculiarity that makes for cult following. It is the sort of show that people remember many years later and talk about and debate with each other, for long months afterwards. It is, in a word, a show with depths. Yet there is the problem, I feel. We live in a time in which anything with depth is likely to be scorned and shunned. These are shallow days in which Mankind becomes ever more trivial in heart and mind, outlook and occupation. This is, I feel, the explanation for something unexpected about this show: the internet is filled with people raving about how wonderful the Lost Room was, there are many thousands of fans writing the most awed of reviews of it - yet, the ratings in its first showing were poor. How is this so?

Well, it is simple. Those who love the show are, I would suggest, smarter than the average person. The Lost Room is a show that will appeal to people who like something with a little complexity, something with layers, something with surprises and endless possibilities. The Lost Room is, however, a show that some people will not like for precisely the same reasons: they will find it beyond them, they will find it a little too complex, or they will find that it requires too much imaginative engagement to accept the premises of the world on offer. In short, bright people will love it - and dumb people will not.

The tragedy of the world is that dumb people far outnumber bright people - this particularly applies to television audiences. Thus, one can expect that a show that appeals to bright, imaginative people (that is, a GOOD show), will not appeal to the mindless bulk of the audience. Thus, such a show may get indifferent viewing figures, even when it is, in fact, quality fare.

I enjoyed the Lost Room so much that it was a great disappointment to learn that the first series was the only series. I have never actually wanted to see more of a TV series before. Usually, I want to see LESS of a tv series (since they usually go on far too long and exhaust the possibilities of their premise and unique worlds long before the end of a run).

I have also never seen a fan base react to a series, as those who enjoyed The Lost Room have reacted to it. There are so many people online demanding that the series be revived - and so many people talking of what could happen in such a world. It seems that the series, brief as it was, touched the imaginations of many people.

However, it is unlikely that the Sci Fi Channel will revive The Lost Room despite the growing call for it to do so - for the Sci Fi Channel is very viewing figures driven. They only put out the lowest common denominator - the crap that the lower bulk of people want to watch - rather than seeking to create the best work that they can and appeal to the more sophisticated audiences of the present and the long-term future. The Sci Fi Channel is not interested in creating classics, but only, apparently, in showing wrestling, because the viewing figures are great.

Fans of the Lost Room have started an online petition demanding its return. So here is a suggestion: why don't you borrow The Lost Room from your video store - and watch it. If you are imaginative in any way, I would be very surprised if you do not enjoy the Lost Room (I have left a lot of details out so as not to spoil your enjoyment). Then, if you liked it and would like to see the series continue (since there are a lot of loose ends left over for a sequel to tie up), go to the online petition - and sign it. Who knows, perhaps your name will be the one that tips the balance and brings back an eminently enjoyable, fresh and absorbing TV show.

The petition is here:

I have never linked to a petition before - but I feel it appropriate to do so now. The reason is simple: I don't believe that ratings alone should dominate the choice as to whether a tv production is made, there should also be a regard for "art", for the quality of production, its potential for bringing enjoyment to the more sophisticated of audiences. There should not only be television for the masses, but television for those who demand a little more. The Lost Room is one such production (by Lionsgate Productions) that appeals to those who like something a little more complex.

Talking of complicated, it was very telling of the world in which we live, in that the show was criticized by some (not very bright) critics, for being "too complicated" and "bizarre" or "strange". These critics seem to have a view that all that is on television should, therefore, be, "rather simple", "mundane", "everyday". Their criticisms only have meaning if their reference is that all should be normal in the televisual world. I find that somewhat tiresome. The world of art - and television can be an art, at its best - is such that it SHOULD be "too complicated", "bizarre" and "strange". If it is not complex, to a degree, or bizarre, to some extent, then it cannot challenge us in any way, nor will it be new. Not all critics felt this way, but quite a few of them did. This tells me that they lack imagination and intelligence - for if you have either, you would not see this show as complex, nor as "bizarre" - you would see it as interesting and novel.

Anyway, why not treat yourself to an enjoyable six hours of unusual television programming, by renting The Lost Room? When you have done so, if you liked it enough to want more...just go to the petition and ask for it.

Happy viewing!

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:00 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lost room is really good, i was a great fan too. But it isnt the best series ever. You should check out LOST which is in my opinion much better

8:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I think this is very much a personal matter. I found The Lost Room very absorbing, exciting even...but I found LOST dull and uninvolving...I couldn't bring myself to watch more than a few episodes. I think different things engage different people...LOST did nothing for me, I am afraid. There was far more originality in The Lost Room.

However, the audience figures for LOST are bigger than those for The Lost obviously more people like LOST.

Thanks for your comment.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Indiana said...

Interestingly many critics said the same thing of Lost and look where it ended up, and those same critics (also on Sci-Fi) found the storyline in Firefly to hard to follow so it was likewise canned.

Sadly the people who make TV shows are no longer interested in creating something as legendary as say, Northern Exposure, instead they just want numbers they can translate into advertising revenue.


5:25 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Indiana. What this means, of course, is that television as a medium for "art" will no longer reach its potential: all that is good will be canned after one season - for the more sophisticated something is (and therefore of lasting interest) the SMALLER its mass audience will be. Thus we are left with absolute rubbish that appeals primarily to the dullest and largest segment of the audience. Any art which aims solely for the greatest numbers is doomed.

We shall have to wait until people are brighter than they are now, to see worthwhile work in any mass medium.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Don't mean to revive a death thread here, but I just wanted to say that was a great article and i agree completely with your views. I didnt know TLR was originally intended to be a full series. The lost room and firefly are 2 shows i can now add to the list of classics that should have continued. Its a shame that they showed the firefly episodes out of order, they say that is the reason for its failure. i wonder if TLR had a similar fate? At least firefly got a movie. maybe they could make one for the lost room?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. Isn't funny how LTR and Firefly both suffered the same fate and both have the same characteristic: they are a bit strange. Apparently, originality is penalized by simple minded audiences around the world. They would rather something just like their last show...boring.

It would be great if there were a Lost Room might even lead to a revival of the series.

Here's hoping.

12:36 PM  
Blogger That One Guy said...

The Lost Room was a Mini-series. Like the Tenth Kingdom or Tin Man. They are like long movies. Usually they are three 2-hour events.

The Lost room originally aired the same way and was only broken into 6 episodes for the DVDs and reruns.

I am a big fan of the show, and it would make an interesting full length (24 episodes) series. Although, it would probably only be good for one season. Some shows are created to be a certain length, like Flashpoint.

Good shows are supposed to leave you wanting more, but often more doesn't turn out so well.

7:07 PM  
Blogger That One Guy said...

The Lost Room was a Mini-series. Like the Tenth Kingdom or Tin Man. They are like long movies. Usually they are three 2-hour events.

The Lost room originally aired the same way and was only broken into 6 episodes for the DVDs and reruns.

I am a big fan of the show, and it would make an interesting full length (24 episodes) series. Although, it would probably only be good for one season. Some shows are created to be a certain length, like Flashpoint.

Good shows are supposed to leave you wanting more, but often more doesn't turn out so well.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you That One Guy, for your view. Perhaps you are right, perhaps it would not have worked over a longer format...though I feel it had more to come, if it had been allowed. The format could have coped with story expansion.

Happy viewing, whatever it is you like to view. In fact, do you have any recommendations?

8:07 PM  

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