Room 104 Fridays, 11:30 p.m., HBO. Premieres July 28.
Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass are two of the most prolific creators in film and TV right now, with numerous credits as producers, writers, directors and actors. So their new HBO anthology series Room 104 could come off like a throwaway side project, a chance to toss together a few random ideas. Some of Room 104’s episodes do have a sort of half-formed quality to them, built around character relationships that seem like they are just getting started once the episode ends. But for the most part, the series is an intriguing experiment, allowing the Duplasses and their collaborators the chance to explore multiple genres and approaches.
Each half-hour episode takes place entirely in the same modest, anonymous hotel room, and the stories range from intimate dramas to low-key comedies to Twilight Zone-style supernatural intrigue. One episode, featuring a housekeeper fantasizing (or possibly remembering) while cleaning up the room, is essentially a 20-minute contemporary dance performance. Like any anthology, Room 104 is inconsistent, and the genre shifts may put off viewers who expect a certain kind of show and then tune in to the next episode only to find something completely different. But for the Duplasses, whose ideas seem endless, it’s a great avenue for branching out.