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|Index||34 reviews in total|
I can see how this film might not be for everybody, but I make my living writing for television and this movie is actually pretty dead on. The satire works because I felt they keep it real. Stuff that might seem absurd I have seen happen (actually real stuff that happens in the development of a pilot would make people shout at the screen and say "come on - that couldn't happen!!). The film is very well cast - everyone from Lindsay Sloane to Ion Gruffudd give strong performances. Many of my fellow writers begged me to see it, so I finally went and I thought Kasdan does an excellent job. But the film could pretty much play like a documentary - without fail, the nets will almost instantly try and change the ONE thing about a project that makes it unique - they want it to be like everything else (Weaver's character has the great line - "it seems original and original scares me!"). It is a real marathon filled with danger to get a pilot sold, then possibly get it filmed, then edited, then tested and then through literally winning a lottery - getting it on the air!! But at the end of the day - it is the viewers who decide what stays on - if something gets numbers, it stays - if it doesn't - it goes. And every now and then a unique and smart show will get on the air and more times than not - no one will watch it. Viewers SAY they want something different, but most of the time when you try to do that - they go "what the hell is this?? This is too different" and then they go back to watching Jim Belushi.
Just saw this at Tribeca. Interesting, entertaining, often funny.
Sigourney Weaver is exception. A Solid 7 -- as good as most independent
films and insightful.
I would say that the only draw back are the visuals -- kind of bland photography. which should not detract at all from the films commercial appeal.
Jake Kasden is someone to watch. I also really enjoyed the Q& A after the screening. David D. is very funny. And seems to be expanding beyond the X-FIles persona that must be hard to elude.
Sigourney Weaver is so underrated as an actress -- she can do anything. seems to get better with age.
Hats of to the production team
I saw this at the Traverse City Film Festival and it was one of my
favorite films there.
David Duchovny has written a great script for a new TV show and the studio wants to make the pilot. Unfortunately, before it airs, they want to make some changes to his script. The film follows the script as it goes from one hand to another before it gets turned into the perfect TV sitcom.
The cast is excellent. David Duchovny does a great job as the lead, we all relate to him because we all want to see something new, not just the same clichéd sitcom premise. The TV show cast is great, from the opening moments in the film when they audition for the parts, all of their scenes are perfect. And Sigourney Weaver steals the show playing the evil network boss, every time she's on the screen it's impossible not to laugh.
Jake Kasdan was at the screening and told us afterward that most of the stuff shown in the film has happened to him before on several pilots he's worked on. It's sad that things like this still take place, that so many shows keep dumbing down and are afraid to be different. Hopefully TV executives will take a look at this film and get some ideas.
By the way, be sure to stay for the closing credits.
9 / 10
David's character Mike Kline was so far removed from Fox Mulder that
this should finally shut the critics up that say David can only play
one role. David was almost unrecognizable as this down trodden man who
had his dream script completely turned inside out by the powers that
be. He, in MHO was terrific as was the whole ensemble cast. Justine
Bateman was very good as his wife and Sigourney was terrific as the
network boss. The expressions on David's face were just amazing. He
truly made you feel sorry for the man while you also had to laugh at
his pain. I LOVED the film. And I can say for the first time that David
was really skuzzy looking. Duchovny's expressions were priceless. This
film has a truly wonderful ensemble cast. There is not a bad
performance in the bunch. Bottom line . I think that this film is very
smart, funny and kind of sad. You feel Mike's pain
I'd give this film 4 stars any day of the week
very depressing insider's story of the difficulty of getting any kind of decent show on network TV. makes me want to reconsider the few TV shows that i actually watch as it's hard to believe anything actually decent could survive this process. the movie is funny, but in a "it's funny how truly mediocre most of our cultural output is" kind of way. Duchovny did a good job and it is a good movie. hopefully Slut Wars and a good sitcom appealing to a narrow demographic can coexist. reminds me that there are still plenty of good books to read. Sigourney Weaver is funny, but her character seems to crush the life out of anything that would express any human emotion.
I thought this film was okay, but not great.
Certainly, it is a topic that can be mined for great comedy and social commentary. How does Hollywood, which has so many talented people in it, churn out such crap to put into our living rooms every night?
I think the producers here try to give us a behind the curtain look at that, but they don't really hit it with the edge that they could hit it with.
The plot is that Duchovny's character is a writer who creates a show about a lawyer who is touched by the death of his brother by suicide, and slowly watches as his original concept is bastardized by network executives. Network meddling turns a neat idea into a farce. First, they put in an actor the creator doesn't want, and his inadequacy ruins much of the chemistry. Then they change the premise, and finally the title.
The movie ends abruptly as the main character watches a clip for a show that looks nothing like his original idea.
It works on some levels, but on others, it kind of falls flat.
Sigourny Weaver is brilliant. Duchovny just doesn't work well in this role. You are supposed to get the idea of a man who makes Faustian bargains to get his vision on the air, and then has his vision destroyed. Duchovny's character never really expresses his passion for his original concept, so you don't care all that much when Weaver's character steamrollers him.
I find this interesting, because no doubt they cast Duchovny because of his name recognition. The premise is how a TV show can be ruined by bad casting when this movie was ruined by bad casting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE TV SET (2007) *** David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd,
Judy Greer, Fran Kranz, Lindsay Sloane, Justine Bateman, Lucy Davis,
Willie Garson, M.C. Gainey, Philip Baker Hall, Andrea Martin.
Tart Satire of TV; Duchovny Gives Great Deadpan
Jake Kasdan's latest satire, "THE TV SET", is a pitch perfect , dead-on depiction of the myopic vision of American television which has become a vast wasteland of so-called 'reality' shows and mean-spirited game shows when in essence, the true pillars of its foundation, the scripted format is on the wane. Never before has a sharp-edged black comedy been needed to poke at the underbelly of the medium than now.
The filmmaker cut his teeth on TV including the much critically lauded, hastily dispatched "Freaks & Geeks, that his insider voice is on full display for biting the hand that fed him and for rubbing its ilk in the mess its created.
To wit: veteran scribe Mike Klein (Duchovny giving deadly dead-pan, is a study in noble rot) is desperately trying to get his current project "The Wexler Chronicles", a dramedy based in part of his real-life brother's suicide's affect on him, past the pilot stage for the fictitious Panda Network (think CW lite) and the biggest hurdle is vacuous, yet tenaciously 'my way or the highway' Lenny (Weaver, a dry riot), a harpy in a suit, who is not Mike's biggest fan but has her current junior exec Richard McAllister (Gruffudd in a modulated turn of a decent guy in a deceptive business), a Brit late of the BBC, whose come to LA for the network to give a fresh perspective on the new crop of shows for the seasonal line-up. He too is hedging his bets but mostly due to his domestic dilemma of not being there for his family while juggling the powers that be with the promising sitcom-to-be.
Mike is plagued not only with the cluelessness of the execs but is shortchanged when he is forced to go with his second choice for the show's lead character, Zach Harper (newcomer Kranz, suggesting a lame-brained Jake Gyllenhaal); an inept director (Garson); his airhead manager Alice (Greer) who backpedals everything thrown her way; his pregnant wife (Bateman making a nice return to film here) his only support system but a constant reminder of the price of failure; and one lulu of a recurring, crippling back ailment.
Kasdan layers everything with a touch of stinging wit, caustic dialogue, and unbelievable accuracy of how some people truly are so incredibly dense to the matters of the creative process it's a true wonder how the hell they got so far (let alone dressed themselves in the morning and made the effort at a daily life!) Duchovny's Mike Klein, behind a thatch of itchy/scratchy beard as a mask of indifference to what is thrown at him knowing ultimately he will have to acquiesce at basically every power play and sign his soul away to get his baby on the air; truly soul-crushing to watch one's lifetime dream become a living nightmare.
While not a classic like "The Player" or even "Network" the film works on its own merits by not caving in to be likable either; Lenny wouldn't have it any other way.
I really liked the idea for this movie, cast was great (especially
David Duchovny and Judy Greer), but when I was expecting the plot to
move in the most interesting parts of the TV series production suddenly
the end titles showed up...
"The TV Set" is really good project, but unfortunately the creators have only highlighted the process and left a lot of comic potential untouched. I know there is the rule "always leave them hungry", but in this one they've left me starving :)
But above all this it worth watching movie, especially if you want to find out how your favorite TV series were created.
I readily related to the central plight of David Duchovny's character -
writing and submitting what we're to assume is a perfectly good,
heartfelt and sincere script only to be asked to compromise it's most
significant and defining characteristics in ways that change the entire
premise of the story. With real world responsibilities, he's forced to
choose between his ability to provide for his family and his artistic
integrity. I think we've all been there in one way or another - those
REAL compromises in life where either option requires us to face a
This movie was emotionally stirring as well as funny - a troubling funny, a dark funny, where the real laughs are in the subtext - the absurdity of the whole ordeal.
David Duchovny's performance was, imo, perfect. I actually prefer him in more overt comedic roles but he owned this character in all it's deadpan glory.
I think the most surprising performances were from Judy Greer and Sigourney Weaver. I knew Judy did good comedy, but the subtle approach she applied to this character was flawless. Like Duchovny, she was funny without ever seeming like she was actually trying to be. She didn't play the character funny, she played a funny character - if that makes sense to anyone but me.
Weaver, unfortunately, lands on the other end of the spectrum - as the most disappointing performance. She appeared almost desperate for a laugh in most scenes and her character never seemed to have center. Then again, people in Weaver's character's position tend to be over-animated, two-dimensional, self-ingratiating twits with no artistic vision. So, perhaps she played her character perfectly. Decide for yourself.
Extra props to Fran Kranz for his brilliant portrayal of a slightly psychotic bad actor, Ioan Gruffudd for being so damned likable as opposed to the typical "stuffy brit" stereotype found in most American movies...and finally, Justine Bateman and Willie Garson for breathing real life into their relatively small roles. Well done...
Bottom line: This movie touched me. I don't think we can ask for any more from our entertainment than that.
Despite its short running time, "The TV Set" doesn't quite sustain its
humor throughout. There are tremendous lulls in-between some very good
jokes. There are a few really big laughs and the premise is awfully
enticing. Yet, writer-director Jake Kasdan, who wrote and directed the
very funny and hugely under-rated, "Zero Effect" (1998), cannot seem to
keep things funny throughout.
The film, to be distributed nationally by ThinkFilm, is a rather rude awakening, albeit a funny one, to anyone who aspires to be a writer, especially a TV writer. Mike (David Duchovny) comes up with an idea for a TV series, only to find he is forced to compromise at every turn - from the lead actor to the tone of the pilot to plot points.
The first 10 minutes or so are very funny. But the film loses steam as it goes along, partly because Kasdan seems to want to make a 21st century version of "Network" (1976) at times. But trying to emulate Paddy Chayefsky is no easy feat. Chayefsky was unique and although Kasdan scores some points, he just cannot overcome these huge dull lulls when exposition takes over for comedy and the film just falls flat.
Sigourney Weaver as Lenny, the studio executive - incidentally, the role was initially written for Ben Stiller, so I suppose it's a blessing that he backed out because the man's not done a good movie in years and has ruined several potentially funny films - seems to be simply replaying her shrill, bitchy Katharine Parker from "Working Girl" (1988). Trouble is, villains need to be interesting and Weaver can't quite find what makes Lenny an intriguing person.
Judy Greer does the best of the lot. She has fine comedic timing, knows how to turn a phrase and realizes that good comedy requires underplaying a role sometimes. It's good to see Justine Bateman back in action, but she truly is wasted as the suffering wife. Ioan Gruffudd brings a semblance of dignity to the proceedings finding the right balance for a character conflicted by personal gain and artistic integrity.
Then, there's Duchovny. I realize he has an incredibly loyal following for whom he can do no wrong. Every performance, in their mind, is Oscar-worthy. (I am a huge Woody Allen fan, but I readily admit the man's made some turkeys. Duchovny fans, on the other hand, can't seem to quite grasp that he isn't all that good an actor.) Duchovny has the emotional range of Patrick Swayze, if that. You want to see how limited his range is? Watch Duchovny's crying scene in "Return to Me" (2000).
Duchovny has a few good moments in "The TV Set," especially reacting to what's happening around him. But, truth be told, he gives the same performance in everything he does, be it television or movies. There's no difference between his performance here and his turn in the wretched "Connie and Carla" (2004). It's impossible to differentiate one Duchovny performance from another. There's a smugness to him that can be appealing, and which occasionally works, but he desperately needs a broader range of emotions to turn him into an average actor.
Kasdan misses several opportunities to get in some great jokes. After a while, the film takes on a typical arc. You sense where the story's going. A couple of digs at TV work. After all, Kasdan has experience having good shows canceled. And some of his best jokes seem to lurk in the background. You have to pay attention, but they're good.
"The TV Set" isn't a bad movie. It just isn't as terrific as it could be or Kasdan wants it to be. He has a lot to say about the state of TV today - which is, with a few exceptions, rather execrable - but he seems to struggle trying to find comedy for his entire story. Writing comedy isn't easy. And Kasdan should be credited for coming up with this. I just wish this had been funnier. Come to think of it, a bit more of "Slut Wars" - written well, of course - might have helped.
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