Jake Kasdan's The TV Set continues Hollywood's love affair with mocking itself. The premise doesn't completely rest on satire, but on the relatable story of Mike (David Duchovny), a television writer and producer trying to retain something of his original vision when the Panda network develops his pilot. As Richard (Ioan Gruffudd), the British exec brought in for artistic "edge" worries, "I'm just making the world more mediocre." However, Mike's show, "The Wexler Chronicles," looks cheesy before the suits screw it up and its development through predictably noxious corporate machinations doesn't go anywhere unexpected. Sure there's a lot of crap on network TV, but there are good shows too, and haven't these people heard of cable? Sigourney Weaver spins her character, a stereotypically bitchy network executive, into a clueless harpy for big laughs; she swears constantly for gritty cred, bases programming decisions on the opinions of her tween daughter, and is constantly prattling on about how Lucy Lawless deserves a great sitcom. There are some promising, original characters -- the show's star is a naïve greenhorn who has no control over his craft -- but they fade into the background or along familiar paths (the actor becomes an obnoxious cad). Kasdan and executive producer Judd Apatow had a notoriously difficult time shepherding two good shows, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, through the network process, but evidence of that experience is not apparent in this film, and The TV Set is ultimately too unfocused to be successful as either a biting satire or a dramatic comedy.
by Michael Buening review