'The TV Set'
(David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd, Judy Greer, et al / DVD / NR / (2006) 2007 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: 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 that there is as much entertainment behind the cameras as there is in front.
DVD Verdict: "The TV Set" is a tart, smart, closely observed satire of the television industry with a sub-topic of it being pilot season. The tone is conversational, the targets modest. Writer-director Jake Kasdan and his cast hit every one of them, though, and how often does that happen?
Plus, Sigourney Weaver finally gets to play the Mama Alien. Her character, Lenny , the head of programming at the fictional PDN Network, is a breathtaking caricature of assurance and soullessness. Presiding over a prime-time schedule whose breakout hit is called "Slut Wars " -- a 19 share across all demos -- Lenny knows what America wants. When she doesn't know, she asks her daughter (Allison Scagliotti ), who, according to one of her mother's minions, is "a very mature 14."
In another of the movie's small surprises, David Duchovny plays Mike Klein , the shaggily intelligent creator of a would-be network hit called "The Wexler Chronicles ." It probably won't get onto the schedule -- a minuscule percentage of produced pilots ever make it into our living rooms -- but it might. Lenny says she likes it. Well, she likes everything except the name. And the basic premise. And Mike's choice for the lead.
"The TV Set" has been made by people who know that Hollywood runs on hypocrisy, so there's very little screaming going on. People eviscerate each other with smiles, or they promise the moon before running for cover. The film's third major character is Richard McCallister , the network's newly hired head of prime-time programming. Richard's from the BBC, and everyone praises him as a white knight of quality TV; it's no accident he's played by Ioan Gruffudd , the dashing star of "Horatio Hornblower " and "Amazing Grace ." If this were a PDN TV show, he'd be the hero and he'd get a big speech about ethics and duty at the end. Kasdan and company know better.
Following "The Wexler Chronicles" over the months from casting to premiere, "The TV Set" is both wickedly astute and appalled at the slow, grinding process by which good ideas are dumbed into pap. Mike's show is a wry drama, and the off - screen suicide of the lead character's brother sends Lenny into fits. " 'Original' scares me a little," she admits, before strong-arming Mike into writing an alternate story line. "Shoot it both ways," she asks, "the bummer version and my version, and see which works." This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
"The Making of The TV Set" featurette