I work from home, so whenever I need a break, I plop down on the couch and watch TV for a while. Sometimes a good show will be on, and I'll be entertained for a half hour or so, other times there won't be anything showing that interests me at all — but I always wonder who makes the decisions to air these particular shows, and how they decide.
I don't really ponder it too much, but when a couple of my favorite shows got canceled, my ire towards television networks and the people who canceled my shows popped up. I wouldn't do anything except mutter under my breath about my dissatisfaction, but watching The TV Set makes me think that any protest I make would be futile anyway.
The TV Set, starring David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver, is a satire about what happens behind the scenes of our beloved dramas and sitcoms in the television industry. It isn't 'laugh-out-loud hilarious' as much as it is 'smirky-sarcastic', but it does give us a pretty good idea of the problems and trials the people behind the television networks face.
David Duchovny plays television writer Mike Klein, who writes a script that has personal meaning to him. He sells it to a network and they seem to love it. However, network president Lenny, played by Sigourney Weaver, wants him to make some changes to the script that compromise the original premise of the story. Mike Klein's wife (Justine Bateman) is pregnant with their second child, and he has to decide between standing up for his ideals and being out of a job, or compromising his script and getting it on air. His optimistic manager (Judy Greer) wants her client to be happy, but she also wants his script to air, so she encourages him to go with the changes Lenny wants him to make. The only person who seems to understand Mike's ideals is the network president's second-in-command, Richard McAllister (Ioan Gruffudd), but even he doesn't dare stand up against Lenny.
As the movie proceeds, we see Mike make more and more compromises to get his show on the air, and eventually the show ends up becoming entirely different from what Mike started out with. The TV Set is a very realistic portrayal of the inner workings of network television, and although it's meant to be a comical portrayal, it also comes across as a little bit sad. Mike's experience is funny, but so very sad, because many of us have had to sacrifice our ideals for one reason or another at some point in our lives. Whether it is because the boss said you had to, or your significant other asked you to, or maybe your parents guilted you into it, most of us have had this experience, and it's sad. Perhaps that's what makes The TV Set so poignant.
While I wouldn't call The TV Set the best comedy I've watched in a while, I did enjoy the moral behind it, and the cast's performance was simply superb. David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, and Ioan Gruffudd portrayed their characters really well, but that's no surprise. Lesser known actor Fran Kranz, who played the lead actor in Mike Klein's sitcom, was a very interesting surprise; I thought his different portrayals of his character's character was hilarious, and Lindsay Sloane, who plays the female lead in the sitcom, reacts beautifully to his antics as well.
Special features on the DVD include a featurette of "The Making of The TV Set", audio commentaries by writer and director Jake Kasdan, David Duchovny, Lindsay Sloane, and producer Aaron Ryder on the making of The TV Set, and Jake Kasdan and executive producer Judd Apatow on the inspiration for The TV Set, and a deleted scene of small talk at the network's event before the introduction of Mike Klein's sitcom.