THE BIG DOOR PRIZE S2 Review: Entering The Next Stage

Chris O’Dowd, Gabrielle Dennis, Ally Maki, Damon Gupton, Josh Segarra, Crystal Fox, Sammy Fourlas and Djouliet Amara star in the Apple TV Plus series.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
THE BIG DOOR PRIZE S2 Review: Entering The Next Stage

The second season opens more doors.

The Big Door Prize
All 10 episodes of Season 1 are now streaming on Apple TV+ . The first three episodes of Season 2 premiere globally Wednesday, April 24, exclusively on Apple TV Plus. Subsequent episodes will debut weekly. I've seen all 20 episodes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some big-city residents moved to smaller towns during the Pandemic, which opened up more opportunities for remote workers. No small town in real life, however, could possibly be more quirky than the fictional small town that is the setting for The Big Door Prize.

In Season 1, the town discovered that a mysterious new vending machine could dispense cards that suggested the intelligence behind the machine, whatever that might be, could discern the cardholder's true life potential, often with just a word. It's as though a god arrived in the box, and (nearly) everyone bought into that idea. The season started on a promising note, but progressively lost me as the episodes progressed and the characters steadily lost their charm in favor of pure, mean quirkiness. Still, it could be quite funny, even LOL in a few instances.

In Season 2, the mysterious vending machine suggests to everyone that it is time to enter 'the next stage,' and it's left up to the characters to discern what that means for them in their individual lives, now that they've seen what their potential could be. On the whole, the season takes an upward turn, with less emphasis on negative or unpleasant personalities, though some characters stubbornly insist upon their less appealing traits.

Chris O'Dowd, who provided a likable, reasonable counterpoint to the town's increasing worship of the mechanical box and its "wisdom," becomes seduced by the idea that he can start doing things that he had always repressed before, leading to a selfish rupture in his relationship with his wife, played by Gabrielle Dennis, that is not entirely convincing.

That's how it goes with other characters, too; they're less and less relatable or recognizable as they become more and more absorbed in this fictional fantasy where everyone can do whatever they want, whenever they want, with few repercussions. To be fair, the consequences of some of their actions start to come home, so it feels like the show is making an effort to be more well-rounded.

As I wrote last year, though: "The series can feel like a pleasant fantasy, a change of pace. To my mind, it works better when it stays light and silly, and becomes a drag when it tries to inject more serious moments, which feel ponderous. The actors do their level best to hit the tone, which wavers from comedy to drama at will, and are mostly successful."

So, as with most second seasons of narrative shows, if you watched and liked the first season, Season 2 will probably be appointment viewing or whatever we call it in the Streaming Age -- 'bookmark viewing,' perhaps? If not, the first three episodes of Season 2 will catch you up on what's been happening and help you decide if you want to watch more.

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Ally MakiApple TV+Chris O'DowdCrystal FoxDamon GuptonDjouliet AmaraGabrielle DennisJosh SegarraSammy Fourlas

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