Sequestered in the dusty corner of the TV spectrum lies The Booth at the End, a five-episode series that delivers a remarkably intelligent and gripping concept. The series, which originally aired in 2010 on Canada’s Citytv network, only takes place in one location—a small all-night diner where a mysterious man (Xander Berkley) always sits in a booth with a leather book of scribbled notes. Every day, multiple characters come visit this man because, according to rumors, he is “the man who can get you whatever you want.” These characters ask the man for various wants such as love, being pretty, having family members cured of a disease and spiritual discovery.
However, each request comes with a task that this mysterious man assigns them. They are outrageous and illegal tasks, such as killing a child and robbing a bank, that revolve around a central burning question: how far are you willing to go to get what you want? Whether this man is God, the devil or simply a sociopath is unsure. Yet when some of the characters complete their tasks, they indeed get what they desired. In addition, the characters’ stories become intertwined as they brilliantly come together at the end of the series.
Although the theme of people committing morally unethical actions to pursue their desires is not a new idea, The Booth at the End gives it a brand-new and original, stylish delivery. The fact that the whole series is shot in a single diner with only dialogue between characters seems impalpable and lackluster on the surface. However, it’s captivating because we want to see what will happen to these characters and attempt to figure out just who in the world the man at the end of the booth is.
The plot also allows us to contemplate our own actions and how we justify them. Although ours may not be as extreme as robbing a bank to become beautiful, our own moral compasses become suspect to scrutiny. In our lives, do we justify copying off someone’s exam in class by saying we want a good grade? Do we pin the blame on someone else to get what we want? Just how far are we willing to go to get what we desire?
While some of the acting in the series may be a tad unconvincing, Berkley’s portrayal of the mysterious man is almost Emmy-worthy. His ability to convey intimidation, pity, sadness and judgment, yet not giving away who he truly is and what his intentions are, is a remarkable feat.
The Booth at the End is currently on Hulu.com, and it contains five, 20-minute episodes which can easily be crushed in a one-night viewing session. So, if you have a night by yourself, it would behoove you to take a gander at this series.