Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Booth at the End (2010 - 2012)

“Riveting television”

Oh yes it is, and for such a simple concept, elegantly achieved on what must be a tiny budget, THE BOOTH AT THE END represents a triumph for clever writing and engaging acting.
So what’s it about? It’s actually difficult to say too much without spoiling things, but what you get in this two disc set are the first two series (hopefully there will be more) of this television programme. BOOTH is set in a diner, specifically the seating area of the title. Throughout five twenty-three minute episodes we never leave that location. 

Xander Berkeley (CANDYMAN and many, many others) plays a man (or is he?) that people come to with their problems. He in turn provides them with a task. If they succeed, their problem will be solved. The tasks match the problems. So if a boy wants his girlfriend to magically receive some flowers he has to help some old ladies across the road. But if someone wants their son who is dying of cancer to survive the chemotherapy they have to kill a random child to take the boy's place. And so on.

The cleverness of the show is that over the five episodes we meet the same characters who keep coming back to tell the man how their various ‘projects’ are doing, and we come to realise that their lives. their problems, and most importantly their tasks, are all interlinked. 
It’s bit like an anthology show, or rather an anthology movie. For those inclined towards classic BritHorror, it’s like an Amicus film where you never leave the junk shop, or the railway carriage, or the crypt, but in this case the setting is a diner where we never leave the booth. But we get drip fed each person’s story over the length of the series.

THE BOOTH AT THE END does take a tiny bit of getting used to. The minimalism of the single setting and the recurring characters had me wondering ‘is this all it’s going to be?’ for the first ten minutes or so. After that I was hooked, and you will be too.

Performances are all very good, with Berkeley absolutely inspired casting. Is he God? The devil? Or something in between? I’m certainly not going to tell you, and he definitely keeps you guessing. Simply Media’s double DVD set contains both series of BOOTH AT THE END. It’s unexpectedly excellent and one of the best bits of TV I’ve seen this year. I hope they do more. 

THE BOOTH AT THE END (Series 1 & 2) is out on DVD from Simply Media on Monday 11th July 2016

1 comment:

  1. Okay - so this sounds oddly intriguing.

    It kind of reminds me of that Neil Gaiman Sandman story about Doctor Dee in the all-night dinner, shook up with a helping of 100 Bullets.