The TV Set
20th Century Fox
In The TV Set, writer Mike (a bearded David Duchovny) is one of the poor sods lucky enough to have his pilot produced during pilot season, the turbulent time in TV-Land when network suits set about turning the more promising scripts they’ve received into one-time episodes. For Mike, the process is a disaster. He’s forced by the network to choose ridiculously over-acting Zach (Fran Kranz) as his lead, and is strong-armed into changing the show’s entire premise at the last minute---its plot hinges around a suicide, and apparently audiences find suicide “sad.” The TV Set’s writer/director, Jake Kasdan, is a battle-scarred TV veteran---he directed episodes of the notoriously shafted and short-lived NBC series Freaks and Geeks and the similarly mistreated Undeclared, both produced by the ubiquitous Judd Apatow (who also produced The TV Set, natch). Here, Kasdan’s channelled his frustration to create a fun satire of network idiocy, test screenings and doublespeak. “If I just sit back and let them turn it into another cannibalized piece of shit, then I’m part of the problem...I’m making the world more mediocre!” Mike declares about his pilot, at one point in the movie. It’s a great line---and a sentiment that one wishes was shared by the countless other TV writers and filmmakers who spend their lives pumping out dreck.