TV Set, The (2006)

Rated: R
Length: 87 Minutes
Grade: CCBB=C
Budget: $2 million
Box Office: $265 thousand

Directed by: Jake Kasdan, who wrote, produced and directed this as well as Orange County and Zero Effect and the new on DVD Walk Hard.
Starring: David Duchovny, Ioan Gruffudd, Sigourney Weaver, and Judy Greer
Summary: A semi-successful writer struggles to bring his beloved television pilot to air against the stifling and commercial minded network corporate types.

Entertainment Value: C
This was an occasionally funny one-trick satire intended to show how art becomes mediocre garbage through the process of turning a script into a show. It had to be a nearly volunteer gig for the actors given the budget, and it shows, even though it’s one point is well made.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence A, Language C, Illegality A
Rated R for language, and that’s correct, given the number of F-words and other profanity. The only other concern is some discussion about a suicide being the key theme element in a show and some mild romantic kissing.

Significant Content: B
When art and profit collide, the result is usually well-polished garbage that moves no one. But artists have families to feed in addition to their art to make. One could call it a cynical look at how TV is made, but given the actors involved, I’d suspect this is disturbingly close to real life.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
It’s agonizing to watch what happens to Duchovney and to his little creation over the course of this movie. The movie definitely succeeds at bringing us in on his perspective. An additional bonus is the outstanding supporting role of Alice Greer as the peacemaker/truthtwister assistant who serves as the clutch that lets the artist’s engine function properly with the transmission mechanism of the network. She is currently starring in Miss Guided, a very funny satire on school administrators, and starred in 27 Dresses, which I now want to watch.

Discussion Questions:
~What does the phrase “sell your soul” mean in the context of this movie? Do you think Duchovney did that here?
~Do you think the portrayal of actors is accurate here? If it is, what does it tell us about their character as people?
~Does Weaver’s character understand what she’s doing in this story? Is she ignorant, evil, or what? Are corporate representatives wrong for putting money first, given that this is actually their legal obligation?
~Given the tremendous success of innovative shows such as Desperate Housewives, Lost, ~Pushing Daisies, and even American Idol why do you think networks still rely on knock-offs, imitations, and other garbage so much of the time? Is it because they can’t find good innovation or is it because they want to play it safe in case things don’t work out?
~What do you think of the assistant? Is she doing good by her spin tactics, or is she responsible for helping talk the artist into compromise?
Overall Grade: C
If you’re interested in watching a disturbing process that probably goes a long way to explaining why most TV is such drivel, you’ll want to watch this. Besides, it’s pretty short.

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