Just recently caught up with a very facinating short series on FX which had been aired a few months back, and before that originally broadcast as a web series. THE BOOTH AT THE END is one of many new series which have been testing how audiences respond to shorter, quick episodes in small regular doses rather than the usual half hour or hour long series we known mostly.
We spend so much time on computers and laptops these days, our time with television changing, lessening even, as we engage with all the forms of social media and online entertainment available now. There have been quite a few other small shows to brave the website short burst format including one related to the successful BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series, and others but this is the first which has really grabbed my attention to want to really watch and follow it. I did view it as the near half hour episodes, not in the many shorter webisode format which may have altered the way I enjoyed it ultimately.
What is initially really unusual I believe is that I found it to be highly engrossing and entertaining and really it is only basically a small number of characters talking to each other two at a time, in the same location over and over. I can of course see how this might not appeal to a huge audience and why it was just stuck on fairly late at night but I see it as a very bold, unique series. I do think that as half hour episodes structured like this, it has a certain special momentum which would not be there if I had viewed it as much shorter web episodes. Some people do not like the gimmic feel of webcast series, and quite often they just don not convince. They are new, and it can be hit and miss still with the format but this is a very good sign for them.
Even while I say that I really liked the final television series version of THE BOOTH AT THE END, it probably would not exist without the original form that it was created in.
Perhaps not the most original concept-it does remind me of some TWILIGHT ZONE or OUTER LIMITS episodes-I think the freshness comes in that we do not see the events the characters tell ‘THE MAN’ about. Like reading a good book, we have to mentally picture the tales they talk about. And as we listen to ‘THE MAN’ and the characters trying to complete their individual tasks, we are continually deciding upon the truth or lack of in their words. The scenes (all involving ‘THE MAN’) revolve around their gulit, temptation, confusion, fear, lust and his promises and casual offers of the things they want most in their lives.
With only a small number of reoccuring characters, the smae location and no huge special effects really, it is a very low budget challenging series but suprisingly rewarding in the end. I think I am wondering if this show now new ways to produce and present good quality, well scripted shows which do not require stupendous budgets or hugely expensive star actors.
Each character has their own interesting predicament or dilemma, danger approaching them, and ‘THE MAN’ of the booth is always there listening and guiding them. The vagueness of his character is tantilising of course-from the begining we have no idea who or what he is. Is he perhaps the devil? An angel? Alien even possibly, or just some sadistic weirdo?
I did seem that yes, the premise could only go so far really but with suitable number of episodes it seemed to explore the characters well enough and their personal challenges without exhausting the concept conpletely.
I am not sure if it could be resurrected or continued, but more shows in a similar format could provide a freshness that is disappearing across the many, many hours of digital television channels we have building up.