Realistic characters create ‘The TV Set’

Quinn Schlussel
April 9, 2008
Filed under Reviews

The birth of a TV series, although typically a very exciting period in most scriptwriters’ lives, can also contain moments of severe artistic tragedy. That was the theme shown in Jake Kasdan’s little known hit “The TV Set.”
Jake Kasdan, writer, director and producer of last winter’s satirical comedy “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” was also the writer, director, and producer of this tragedy that is masked up to be a comedy.
“The TV Set” is about a struggling scriptwriter named Mike Klein, played by David Duchovny, who pitches an original, dynamic sitcom to a network, and then has to watch as the network president, Lenny, played by Sigourney Weaver, artistically mutilates his very personal, stunning work.
Although the movie is played out to be a comedy more than anything else, the realism of the actual situation, and the documentary-like camerawork used makes it seem to be more of a drama. The direction of this movie leads it to be a very gratifying experience; the shots and reactions of the characters are done with thoughtful care, and the movie provides a near-educational air without becoming too preachy.
The comedy of this film is mainly character based. The loopy, odd characters have personalities and wit that awkwardly bounce off each other, which give the film an even more authentic mood.The script was exceptionally well written and rightly so.
Jake Kasdan was the original writer for the off-kilter comedy “Freaks and Geeks,” which, although ahead of it’s time, was canceled. This was because many people considered the humor to be too bizarre. It’s pretty evident that many of his bitter frustrations toward the syndication process are funneled through this movie.
The actors performed marvelously as well, and made sure the realism carried through the entire event. Sigourney Weaver, in particular, plays a great antagonist. Her offensive mannerisms and overriding authority create one of the best love-to-hate characters shown on screen in a long time. The realism of her character is drawn from past experience as well: Her father was the network president of NBC.
Duchovny also gave a great performance, and it was a funny, but sad event trying to see him bring all the different problems under his control and still stay calm and sane.
One of the problems with the movie is its moderately abrupt ending, and even though the plot could conceivably be cut off at that point and be considered adequately covered, the fact was that many subplots that ran through the movie were cut short with no satisfying conclusion.

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