Airlessly insidery and only sporadically funny, Jake Kasdan’s The TV Set is either designed for a very limited audience or grossly overconfident in the appeal of network-television-series politicking. Either way, a small-screen The Player this isn’t.
As the story opens, things are turning sour for Mike, a TV writer-director (the ever-likable Duchovny) whose dramedy pilot has been greenlighted by the sub-CW Panda Network. A gormless exec (Weaver, trying hard in a shrill, underwritten role) strong-arms wispy pretty boy Zach (Kranz) into the lead role, and the show is ultimately picked up only after being reconfigured by the risk-averse higher-ups. Meanwhile, Mike and his programming-VP doppelgnger (Gruffudd) endure physical and matrimonial deterioration, while Kasdan leans heavily on people repeatedly saying “fuck” to provide laughs.
The TV Set isn’t toothless: It captures the hideous compromises of advertising-funded creative endeavors with sickening plausibility, and the performances are generally decent—the mercurial, self-infatuated hamminess of Kranz’s Zach is particularly spot-on. But its premise is suspect in the days of HBO, FX and even Sci Fi, and a lackluster movie few people will see about a bad TV show no one would watch seems redundant anyway. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Mark Holcomb