The TV Set

The TV Set

Film review by: Witney Seibold


            “Everybody, I got bad news. We’ve been cancelled.”


            “Oh no! How could they do that?”


            “Unfortunately, there’s just no more room on the schedule. We have to accept the fact that Fox has to make room for terrific shows like: ‘Dark Angel,’ ‘Titus,’ ‘Undeclared,’ ‘Action,’ ‘That ‘80s Show,’ ‘Wonderfalls,’ ‘Fast Lane,’ ‘Andy Richter Controls the Universe,’ ‘Skin,’ ‘Girl’s Club,’ ‘Cracking Up,’ ‘The Pitts,’ ‘Firefly,’ Get Real,’ ‘FreakyLinks,’ ‘Wanda at Large,’ ‘Costello,’ ‘The Lone Gunmen,’ ‘A Minute with Stan Hooper,’ ‘Normal, Ohio,’ ‘Pasadena,’ ‘Harsh Realm,’ ‘Keen Eddie,’ ‘The Street,’ American Embassy,’ ‘Cedric the Entertainer,’ ‘The Tick,’ ‘Louie,’ and ‘Greg the Bunny.’”


            “Is there no hope?”


            “Well, I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes, we might have a shot.”


                                    -Dialogue from “Family Guy”


            Ever wonder why there’s so much crap on TV? As Jake Kasdan’s new film “The TV Set” posits, it’s nothing to do with a dearth of ideas. Fresh ideas are coming into TV studios all the time from hard-working, creative, and talented people, and there are good actors, good writers, and people willing to put their reputations on the line to keep these shows on the air.


            Well, o.k. maybe not that last thing.


            “The TV Set” depicts the journey one such good idea, full of hope and originality, as it saunters vaguely downward into a pseudo-comic everyday televised piece of unintelligent crap.


            David Duchovny, a better actor than he is given credit for, plays Mike, a man who is trying to get a very personal pilot shot by the local big studio. He has the actor he wants, and has explained to the execs how personal the project is to him: a bio-show about a man getting over the death of his brother. The head exec of the “Panda” network (obviously a stand-in for Fox) is Lenny (Siguorney Weaver), who talks in big egoistic terms, and never has anything of substance to add (which all the more unfortunate, because she’s the only one with the power to add anything). Her lieutenant is a recently-hired Brit from the BBC named Richard McAllister (Ioan Gruffud). Richard seems to be on Mike’s side throughout all this, and, despite Lenny’s vapidity, Mike’s show will get made the way he wants.


            But then there’s a bit of bad casting. The execs choose the buffoonish overactor Zach Harper (Fran Kranz). He seems more interested in flirting with his co-star (Lindsay Sloane) than acting. Then there’s complications during shooting, and Zch cannot focus. The buzz rises, and the execs become nervous about a “sensitive” project, and ask Mike to make small changes in the dialogue. Then the story. Then the premise. Then the brother isn’t dead. Mike throws out his back, and is constantly afraid of turning away, as he desperately needs the money to support his family and pregnant wife (Justine Bateman). Richard is inspired to help Mike and his artistic vision, but is browbeaten by Lenny and the general culture of anticreativity the system supports.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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