The Big Door Prize Season 1 Review – inoffensive, soft sci-fi with Schitt’s Creek vibes

By Adam Lock
Published: March 26, 2023 (Last updated: July 4, 2023)
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The Big Door Prize offers a fascinating premise and builds strong characters from this small, sci-fi seedling of an idea. Chris O’Dowd works well as the leading man, watching his midlife crisis unfold entertainingly. Unfortunately, the quirky humor can be quite grating, and the series doesn’t know how to make the most of its killer concept.

We review the Apple TV+ series The Big Door Prize Season 1, which does not contain spoilers.

Our lives are governed and shaped by the decisions that we make. The irony of these important, life-changing decisions is that we don’t know if they are the right choices to make now, and we only find out if they were successful or not when it is far too late.

The Big Door Prize ponders these big ideas further, exploring the significance of decision-making and the fears of not reaching your full life potential.

In the series, individuals from the nondescript town of Deerfield are told their true-life potential by a mysterious new machine, leading to absolute anarchy.

The Big Door Prize Season 1 Review and Plot Summary

It’s a clever concept that elevates this new Apple original series from David West Read (Schitt’s Creek) for its first few installments. The citizens of Deerfield welcome a new, futuristic machine, seemingly appearing out of nowhere in Mr. Johnson’s General Store.

This Morpho machine takes your fingerprints and a little of your money, offering your life’s potential in return. The card gives out a general or sometimes very specific job title or noun in which the customer finds their own purpose and meaning.

Soon the neighborhood is rife with people making rash, selfish decisions while completely altering their lives in the process because of one card and a few little words.

The show starts with every-man Dusty Hubbard (Chris O’Dowd), and he is the main protagonist of the series on the whole, but each episode still finds time to center on a different character too. Dusty is the viewer’s eyes and ears in the show, one of the few sane people to question this new machine and its possibly sinister intentions.

Although it isn’t long before everyone falls under its spell, including Dusty, who succumbs to its allure, becoming utterly obsessed with the machine and its purpose. He questions his own life choices and contemplates what could have been.

READ: Best Apple TV+ Shows of All Time

This is the crux of the series: the idea that you could have done something else with your life, something more. The Morpho machine inspires individuals to pursue long-forgotten dreams or into making drastic life decisions because they think that is what the card is suggesting.

There are many parallels with religion here, and The Big Door Prize keeps things vague enough to draw your own theories and conclusions from the source material.

That being said, the show works best when it focuses on the creepier side of the machine and the potential for true chaos to erupt in Deerfield.

Is the TV Show The Big Door Prize Season 1 good?

Just like the Morpho cards, The Big Door Prize is full of potential, and the series starts quite strong, yet it soon begins to feel repetitive and small-scale by the midway point.

This repetitive nature is seen in the narrative and the comedy. Characters have their secrets, which are then revealed within or around each of their specific episodes, leading to bizarre situations and impulsive reactions.

There is a decidedly off, quirky tone to the show too. The humor falls flat for the most part, and the kooky characters quickly start to irritate. It may be wrong to categorize this as a comedy overall.

Like I said earlier, the intriguing premise carries the show for those first few installments, promising a real Black Mirror-style dystopian conspiracy next to an equally enticing breakdown in small-town America. The desire to see more from this shady company and to witness the full extent of the town’s descent into madness will keep viewers hooked over the coming weeks.

The Big Door Prize is well written, even if the comedy is only so-so. The writers find time to develop the varying ensemble of characters.

READ: Will there be a Season 2 of The Big Door Prize?

There is depth and authenticity to these individuals and their backstories, although this doesn’t seem to gel with the bizarre sitcom-style scenarios that follow.

Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) is his usual charming self, and he manages to liven up proceedings with his comedic, charismatic turn. The thirty-minute installments whiz by quickly, and audiences will feel comfortable spending their hard-earned downtime in Deerfield with these quirky characters, much like they did with Schitt’s Creek.

The Big Door Prize is inoffensive and charming enough, offering a light sci-fi comedy series for subscribers that is surprisingly light on both science fiction and comedy but still entertaining nonetheless.

What did you think of The Big Door Prize Season 1? Comment below.

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