Saturday, 16 July 2016
Full review on Starburst.
The Man sits at the end booth of a lonely roadside diner. Person after person comes to sit opposite him and talk. The Man makes Faustian deals with these people; they tell him something they want – for their husband’s Alzheimer’s to be cured, for the girl from a magazine centerfold to love them, etc. – and he gives them a task in return for that happening – from fathering a child to setting off a bomb in a restaurant. The only other condition is that they return to the diner regularly to update him on the details.
That’s the idea behind The Booth at the End, a show that may have passed over your radar when it first aired in 2010, followed by a second season in 2012 – but both seasons are now available as one DVD set. Sure, the concept may seem strikingly minimalist in a post-Breaking Bad TV landscape, in which we expect our shows to be blockbuster epics; this is exactly the opposite, as each season has just one set, with the stories playing out entirely over the diner table.
And yet these dialogues are remarkably compelling; Xander Berkeley’s Man interrogates his visitors with laid back sincerity, refusing to give direct help but guiding them into analysing their own flaws and desires, and the show invites us to take the same inquiring attitude. Even when some stories in the second season drag, there are more hits than misses and the pace keeps it watchable; each season is comprised of five twenty-two minute episodes, so you can easily binge the whole thing in one night.
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