Saturday, October 13, 2007

The TV Set: Grade A


The TV Set (2006)

David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, Fran Kanz, Lindsay Sloane. Writer-director Jake Kasdan.

This satire of the TV business is so sly it is almost a straight documentary. Duchovny is a television writer who creates a pilot for a new TV show. Weaver is the studio executive who "offers” her often absurd-sounding ideas on how to “improve” the show to make it commercially viable. (“What if it were just prison instead of suicide? Suicide is so depressing!”) The nominal tension is between commercialism and artistic integrity. Weaver (and the other “suits”) also suggest different lead actors, the director has different ideas about how to shoot scenes, and the actors are hopeless. Duchovny swallows his pride to get the show on the air. American TV viewing preferences are an easy target for satire, but what makes it work so well here is good acting and great writing. Weaver is a little too much, but we can imagine such an oblivious yet dialed-in executive. Duchovny’s long-suffering sighs are too much, but we do sympathize. The best acting comes from Judy Greer, his effervescent assistant. The dialog has plenty of laugh out loud lines that keep the ball rolling, even though the destination is foreordained in the first 10 minutes. The BS “professional” conversations are hilarious and often cringe-inducing. I think For Your Consideration was a better and funnier movie, as was The Player, but this one was subtle and sophisticated enough to keep my funny bone tickled throughout.

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