Film review: 'TV Set' amusing show-biz satire

Published: Friday, June 1 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

THE TV SET — *** — David Duchovny, Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd; rated R (profanity, vulgarity, brief drugs).

If not for some of the film's broader swipes and more obvious parodies, it would be hard to distinguish "The TV Set" from real life.

This very inside but modestly amusing show-business satire doesn't seem too far-fetched or exaggerated. Screenwriter/director Jake Kasdan clearly based it on some of his own experiences when he worked on such late, lamented television programs as "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared."

The lead character even resembles Kasdan's longtime friend and sometime associate Judd Apatow: Mike Klein, played by David Duchovny.

Mike has been working hard on a script for "The Wexler Chronicles," a character-driven television "dramedy" that deals with the fallout from a suicide. With some real-life components, it's a labor of love for him.

So naturally, he has some reservations about character and story changes that have been suggested by the clueless network head (Sigourney Weaver). But Mike's wife (Justine Bateman) and agent (Judy Greer) and sympathetic network executive Richard (Ioan Gruffudd) all urge him to play ball.

Weaver's character could have been based on any number of real-life TV execs. It's not hard to imagine that someone like her really could have a weird obsession for the comic talents of "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless. But Weaver is a sly performer and doesn't allow the character to be too one-note or to become cartoonish.

And this is an ideal role for the low-key Duchovny. His performance is more relaxed and less forced than some of his recent work.

There is also a surprising amount of time given to Gruffudd's conflicted executive, who may be the most likable and sympathetic character here.

"The TV Set" is rated R for some strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang terms and other suggestive talk), some vulgar flatulence humor, and some brief drug references. Running time: 87 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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