Woman in the Wall
The Man and the Baby and the Man
Josie & Me
Back for a second season, the intriguing anthology series Room 104 returns for another 12 episodes of varying quality, continuing on in the same vain as the first season. On paper, Room 104’s unique premise and interesting ideas should make it a sure-fire hit. In reality, HBO’s anthology series has missed the target more often than not. Although the content this year feels much more grounded and of better quality, with some decent stand-out episodes, Room 104 fails to inject the right levels of consistent excitement across all its episodes.
For those unaware, Room 104 is an anthology series with stand-alone episodes taking place in one solitary set – room 104 of a motel. Blending different genres, tones and styles, each episode takes an interesting idea and runs with it, sometimes ending on a high, other times ending on a bizarre or disappointing note. With a lack of variety in its set design, thanks to the premise of the show, the entire episode rests on the script and performace from its actors and it’s here where Room 104 comes unhinged. While episodes like ‘A Nightmare’ and ‘Arnold’ do well to mix things up, injecting both horror and musical formats into proceedings, other episodes like ‘The Man and the Baby and the Man’ are outright terrible and hold the show back from ascending as high as it potentially could.
Much like last year, the episodes themselves generally do well to bring you into the fold, with an interesting hook or premise keeping you watching through the 25 minute run time. Around the midway mark, most of the episodes take a dramatic turn and it’s here where the series teeters between interesting and disappointing. Unfortunately most of the episodes here fall in the latter, with tension dissipated in favour of shock endings or surprising twists that don’t always hit.
Despite the wavering quality, Room 104 is a very easy show to dip in and out of. It’s the sort of show you could easily watch a few episodes of then take a break for a month and return to without missing very much. In a way this actually makes this a really accessible series and there are definitely some stand-out gems here worth watching. The aforementioned ‘Arnold’ is probably the best one of the bunch, blending comedy and music in the best possible way as this hungover man tries to piece together his drunken night. Unfortunately these bouts of brilliance are surrounded by far too many mundane and disappointing episodes.
Stylistically at least, Room 104 looks great. The neon colours, the camera movements and general pacing of most episodes make a really creative use of the room and if there’s one stand out feature of the show as a whole, it’s this. The audio and music is another notable inclusion here, with a range of instruments being used to craft the score.
Although the second season does improve somewhat over the first, Room 104 fails to really reach its potential. With a third season already greenlit and in development, there’s clearly a lot of people watching this one and there’s no denying that this anthology series is very easy to dip in and out of. As a collective whole though, Room 104 pales in comparison to other shows out there, with its various episodes still missing the mark more often than not. There’s still time for this one to turn it around though but as it stands, Room 104 remains an indifferent, average slice of drama in desperate need of a few more killer episodes every season.
Verdict - 5.5/10