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The TV Set
The TV Set
Actors: David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, Fran Kranz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Television
R     2007     1hr 26min

An insightful and fast-moving comic look at the world of network television development. The story follows a TV pilot as it goes through the network TV process of casting, production, and finally airing, while showing tha...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, Fran Kranz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Television
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/25/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 13
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Tension-free satire (but the commentary is good)
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 10/01/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This is an airless, somewhat smug, fatally mild-mannered satire about the production process behind a doomed television drama. Duchovny plays a writer/producer whose autobiographical show is, bit by bit, compromised by Weaver's executive -- the casting, the tone, the plot and even the title are all eventually distorted by a suit who takes demographic readings from her teenage daughter.

This war between artistry and commerce isn't exactly breaking news, and in fact it was already tackled years ago by the smarter, funnier "The Big Picture."

"The TV Set" is pitched too loose. Though he has plenty of opportunities, Duchovny's character never really articulates any kind of vision, and the film loses a lot of tension because the story he wants to tell really doesn't look much better than the compromised version. Even when the final version of the show appears, he seems more angry over its implied failure than he does over the loss of his vision.

Ioan Gruffudd plays a supposedly ingenious BBC executive lured to America who seems to have Duchovny's back but he, too, never asserts himself in a realistic way -- his character seems like an incomplete thought, as does the go-nowhere failed courtship/feuding between the show's two leads. And Weaver's lines are all on-the-nose jabs at a corporate mentality ("Original kind of scares me," she says, surprisingly without the accompaniment of a rim-shot).

What's up with Kasdan? He made the wonderful "Zero Effect" followed by the sort of cynical teen comedy "Orange County" which wasn't nearly as funny as the films that inspired it. But I miss the wit and imagination that I thought "Zero" offered a promise of. Those qualities certainly don't arrive in "The TV Set."

One ammendment to my 2-star review: There's a commentary track on this disc between Kasdan and Judd Apatow that, to my mind, is far more enjoyable than the movie itself. They don't talk a lot about what's going on on-screen, but spend more time discussing the television work they've done that inspired the movie -- "Freaks and Geeks," "Undeclared," "Larry Sanders," "The Ben Stiller Show." I give that commentary 4 stars. Well worth listening to."
A Sitcom's Genesis Covered in Clever Though Repetitive and I
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 11/23/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Even though the movie's conscience, no matter how tattered, is carried by the well-intentioned characters played by David Duchovny and Ioan Gruffudd, it is Sigourney Weaver who easily steals this 2007 television industry satire as Lenny, the Machiavellian head of a struggling network. With her natural authority and scathing wit, she goes back to lacerating Working Girl mode and makes Lenny the complete embodiment of the decline of commercial television with her mantra, "Originality scares me." Acerbically written and directed by Jake Kasdan, Lawrence's older son and a TV insider himself, the film focuses specifically on the development of one sitcom pilot from its casting to the show's presentation to the network affiliates. Its creator is Mike Klein, a seasoned TV writer whose brother's suicide inspired him toward his autobiographical concept.

The story's scope is brief compared to what Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chavefsky already covered with visceral aplomb thirty years ago with the brilliant Network, but Kasdan treads familiar subject matter here. The interactions between Mike and the network suits, in particular, Lenny, are funny, but they begin to get repetitive as the plot meanders toward a rather abrupt conclusion. The other shortcoming is the erratic shift in the movie's perspective between Mike and Richard McCallister, a BBC-imported programming whiz who sympathizes with Mike but finds himself inextricably tangled with network politics. Both Duchovny and Gruffudd are fine in their rather curtailed roles, and there is a smart supporting cast that helps to propel the slim plot - Judy Greer as Mike's perpetually waffling manager, Justine Bateman as his grounded wife, Fran Kranz changing from doofus to egomaniac as the sitcom lead, Lindsay Sloane as the increasingly savvy ingénue, and Andrea Martin in a funny bit as a cynical costumer.

The film's wry tone reminds me of Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration, though Guest cuts a broader and deeper swath on the entertainment industry. Kasdan presents a more insular world in this movie, and the result feels less than resonant to the casual viewer. The 2007 DVD boasts two commentary tracks, which seems excessive for something so small-scale - the first is with Kasdan, Duchovny, Sloane and producer Aaron Ryder about the details of the production and the second again with Kasdan but with executive producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) to discuss more of what inspired the film itself. A deleted scene is included as well as a brief making-of featurette."
A biting satire that lacks teeth...
Cubist | United States | 09/27/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The TV Set is a satire of television that wants to be the next Network (Two-Disc Special Edition) but opts for a much more laid-back approach. The film shows the inner workings of the T.V. industry and how a pilot episode is pitched, then produced, and, in this case, ruined.

The TV Set makes the very valid point that the networks care less about creativity and more about stroking egos. Anything that deviates from tried and true formula is questioned. This film seems to say that sex and broad comedy is what people, for the most part, want to see on T.V. - hardly a revelation. Making a T.V. show is often a series of compromises and it's a miracle that anything decent ever makes it on the air. The TV Set shows the physical and emotional toll the process takes on people, adopting a very low-key tone (that is sometimes so low-key, it's non-existent), quietly making its points. It is most definitely not a bad film, just not a very dynamic one either.

There is an audio commentary by director Jake Kasdan, actors David Duchovny and Lindsay Sloane, and producer Aaron Ryder. They all joke and banter with Duchovny's dry, deadpanned jokes being a real treat. Everyone recounts filming anecdotes in this fun, loose track.

Also included is a commentary with Kasdan and executive producer Judd Apatow. They talk about the nuts and bolts of making a T.V. show and recount some of their experiences working on shows like Freaks and Geeks - The Complete Series and Undeclared - The Complete Series. Clearly their experiences working in T.V. were fodder for the characters and content in the film. This is a funny, insightful track.

"The Making of The TV Set" is an above average electronic press kit. Kasdan started off in T.V. making pilot episodes for shows that never got picked up.

Finally, there is one deleted scene that spoofs the popularity of lawyer and medical dramas - the main competition for Mike's new show."