The Big Door Prize
The small town of Deerfield is rocked when a machine emblazoned with a blue butterfly mysteriously appears at the back of the local shop. Nobody knows how it got there or how it works, but for the bargain price of $2 (alongside a social security number and fingerprints), it will tell the user what their life potential is. The simple sci-fi premise is surreal enough to grab the viewer’s attention right out of the gate, and as the series continues, Apple TV+’s The Big Door Prize reveals itself to be a funny, smart and insightful lens through which to approach grand questions.
Based on the novel of the same name by MO Walsh, and helmed by Schitt’s Creek writer David West Read, each of the show’s episodes gravitates around one of the residents who’ve used the machine. The first episode introduces viewers to mild-mannered history teacher Dusty Hubbard, who’s played wonderfully by Chris O’Dowd. As those around him can’t stop talking about what their life potential is, he can’t stop thinking about the Morpho machine (what the contraption is called) and what the various implications of it are. His frustrations are only exacerbated, however, when he discovers that he and his wife (Gabrielle Dennis) have been given wildly different potentials.
Whereas hers suggests that her life can be much more than what it already is, Dusty’s life, according to Morpho anyway, claims that he’s already all that he can be. Herein lies the central question of the show: what if we’re already everything that we will ever become? Without ever getting over-encumbered with the seriousness of its existential themes, The Big Door Prize weaves in the experiences of other characters to provide some perspective and to get viewers to consider some answers for themselves. The upbeat pacing and charming ensemble cast keep proceedings (mostly) light-hearted, with the interweaving plot threads surrounding the various players gradually forming an in-depth and intriguing plot that begins to peel back the layers of the unassuming town and its community.
Led by a perfectly cast O’Dowd, The Big Door Prize takes a simple premise and evolves it into a thoughtful and funny exploration of some of life’s most abstract questions.
The Big Door Prize is released on Apple TV+ on 29th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Big Door Prize here: