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Laramie Movie Scope:
The TV set

Inside network TV's creativity destroying process

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 24, 2008 -- This is a rather dull movie-with-a-movie story of a struggling writer, Mike Klein (played by David Duchovny of the “X-Files”) trying to sell a series idea to Network shark Lenny (Sigourney Weaver of “Gorillas in the Mist”). Klein's smart, sensitive story about a man whose brother kills himself, gets dumbed down by the network suits until the characters are farting for laughs. Klein is slowly eaten by the network sharks. It is a sad, and extremely slow and rather boring process.

This is a very timely story about Prima Donna actors, focus groups and reality shows taking over television. Before the current writer's strike, writers were at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain. With the strike still on, the writers are below the bottom of the food chain. Even though TV entertainment is getting more coarse and shallow overall, with reality TV being the biggest offender, there are a lot of high-quality shows on TV. Some even argue that this is the golden age of TV. How do shows like “The Sopranos” get made? This movie doesn't explain it. I can't help but compare this to “Network,” unfair though that may be. It is very inferior, with dull drama and unfunny comedy.

This appears to have been written by a writer who has had some unpleasant dealings with TV networks. It portrays the writer in a very sympathetic manner, while portraying the network executive, Sigourney Weaver, as a villain not unlike Mephistopheles. It seems as though the way this network operates is to chew the edges off of any TV comedy or drama series until there is no edge left. It puts every idea through the same meat grinder. Every comedic or dramatic flavor comes out tasting like chicken. Every series begins to look like every other show. Network executives, it argues, are comfortable with the familiar and uncomfortable with anything that is original.

The same can be said for the movie industry, of course. This film takes a lot of cheap shots at TV, like “Network” did. The film industry likes to sit back and think itself superior to the TV industry. This film is an exercise in exactly that conceit. I fail to see the evidence that the film industry is superior. I've seen too many movies that were not made as well as some TV shows are. Look at how many movies that are made as spinoffs of TV shows, and often they are inferior spinoffs at that. Look at the “Stargate” TV series, a spinoff of a movie of the same name. Many episodes of “Stargate” are superior to the original film. This movie rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)