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Review: 'TV Man' stumbles on the road to repair a vintage television

Director Steve Kosareff, author of 'Window to the Future,' documents his quest to find a shop that can bring his childhood Zenith TV back to life.

September 05, 2013|By Annlee Ellingson
  • A scene from "TV Man: The Search for the Last Independent Dealer."
A scene from "TV Man: The Search for the Last Independent Dealer." (TV Man Productions )

In "TV Man: The Search for the Last Independent Dealer," director Steve Kosareff digs his old 12-inch black-and-white Zenith Jetlite out of his closet, dusts it off and turns it on. Nothing happens.

He's clearly attached to the set — he sold Christmas cards to buy it for $100 when he was 14 — and sets out to find someone to repair it. This is a fair enough structure for this documentary in which a fan visits six of the few remaining mom-and-pop joints that sold and repaired televisions back in the day, although he's a bit disingenuous when his first step is to dial a 50-year-old phone number off an old flier.

The real treasure in "TV Man" is Kosareff's impressive collection of old print and television ads, archival footage and big- and small-screen clips illustrating TV-set culture — no surprise given he wrote the book on the topic: 2005's "Window to the Future: The Golden Age of Television Marketing and Advertising." There are also anecdotal gems about installers propositioned by lonely housewives and screens damaged by bullet holes buried in his conversations with these businesspeople from another era, but Kosareff is unable to draw them out or edit them in a compelling way.

In his first film, the television aficionado gets in his own way, even talking over the big moment when his old set blinks back to life.


"TV Man: The Search for the Last Independent Dealer"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

Playing: At Monica 4, Santa Monica.


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