The Big Door Prize – Season 1 Episode 1 “Dusty” Recap & Review


Episode 1 of The Big Door Prize begins with a store owner telling our protagonist to give the MORPHO Machine a whirl. Placing a coin inside, our protagonist receives a slip of paper reading “Your Life Potential”. As we soon learn, his name is Dusty, whose 40th birthday sees his wife of 23 years, Cass, and his daughter Trina, offer up 40 different presents.

There’s a whole bunch of different bits and pieces, including batteries, 4 dollar bills stapled together, a scooter and a Theremin, an old-timey instrument that uses electromagnetic waves.

Dusty rides his scooter all the way to the grocery store, with a hilarious little musical montage to boot. It’s here where Dusty catches a glimpse of that vending machine from earlier. According to Mr. Johnson, this machine apparently tells your future, but he has no idea where it came from. It just appeared one morning, but it’s good for business and a lot of people have been using it, so he’s not complaining.

Dusty heads on to school, where he happens to be working as a teacher. Some of the students have been using the machine too, including Axel, who happens to be his least aspiring student. According to the machine, he’s going to be a meteorologist.

That night, during Dusty’s birthday dinner at Giorgio’s (where Trina happens to be working), the MORPHO machine is brought up again. When Giorgio himself shows, claiming that he got “superstar” on his card, Dusty finds himself wondering about the machine. In fact, it starts to interfere with everything in his life, including his ability to make love to his wife.

In the morning, Dusty heads to work and finds Principal Pat has used her life savings to buy a Harley, all off the back of using the MORPHO machine. He also finds another of those cards in the bin, one reading “Liar”. We don’t know who this card belongs to, but it could be one of the students in Dusty’s class, Jacob. Take that prediction with a pinch of salt though, readers! Jacob has close ties with Trina, who has recently dropped a lot of her classes, off the back of her boyfriend dying.

Cass is now acting standoffish with Dusty, while Dusty himself has been struggling and it could well be to do with the fact he’s got strange blue dots showing up on his ass.

The craziness rackets up when all the kids at school, not to mention those in town, seem to also have an addiction to the machine. Those who use it are making drastic life changes, but Dusty is starting to have doubts about his current life chapter. He eventually confides in Father Reuben, who happens to be off the clock in the bar. Reuben points out that this machine is reminding people that there is a choice and another option in their life. There’s always another path they could be taking.

This chat then eventually catches us up to the early moments of the episode. Dusty heads into the shop after-hours and decides to use the MORPHO machine after all, scanning his fingerprint and inputting his social security number. And just like that, a card pops out the machine. But what does it say? Well, it reads “Teacher/Whistler”, which is exactly what Dusty is already doing. “Fuck it!” He says incredulously, and eventually leaves, deciding that he will be okay after all.

The Episode Review

We all wonder whether we’re on the right path in life and whether what we’re currently doing is what we’re destined to do for the rest of your life. Dusty is the perfect example of this and in a way, it ties into the whole midlife crisis phase we all experience, wondering just what we’ve done with our lives and whether what we’ve left behind is worthy of remembrance.

The show has a quirky tone and plenty of off-beat humour, while the anthological approach seems to hint that we’re going to be switching up character perspectives across the season to see how different people handle their own fates and the cards from this machine.

Either way, The Big Door Prize has plenty to like about it and the short, snappy chapter lengths make this an easy recommendation so far.

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You can read our full season review for The Big Door Prize here!


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