traffic light review fox 'Traffic Light': Proceed, but with some caution“Traffic Light” is a new FOX sitcom from David Hemingson, a producer on “How I Met Your Mother”and “The Deep End,” and Adir Miller, creator of “Ramzor,” an Israeli series upon which “Traffic Light” is based. It centers around three male friends in Chicago and their various significant others, each relationship fitting nicely into the traffic light metaphor.

The three high school/college buddies are Mike (David Denman), Adam (Nelson Franklin) and Ethan (Kris Marshall), who are accompanied by Mike’s wife Lisa (Lisa Lapira), Adam’s girlfriend Callie (Aya Cash) and Ethan’s girlfriend of the week, plus his bulldog Carl.

As far as the current landscape of intersecting-couples-sitcoms goes, “Traffic Light” is, at first glance, preferable to ABC’s “Better With You” and NBC’s “Perfect Couples.” But that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. The problem with all those shows is that they seem to be trying to cash in on the success of “Modern Family,” but without actually having the children, true marital issues and heart that “Family” has.

In the pilot, the main plot for the men is manipulating their wives/girlfriends so that they can spend time together. But it plays more like the writers went this is what movies/TV men do to manipulate their women, we better have our characters do that too.

If they can get away from the more cliched plotlines like that, they might be on to something. Because there were some positive things introduced in the pilot.

First of all, the pilot ends with all the characters converging at “Ben’s thing.” We don’t want to spoil that for you, but it left us with questions about Ben, the men’s college friendship with him, and what subsequently happened to Ben. We hope the show delves into that.

Secondly, the two supporting female characters of Lisa and Callie were charming and funny, particularly Lisa Lapira. The show seems to be starting off as a “male bonding” show, but it could benefit from turning into more of an ensemble piece, much like how “Cougar Town” turned quickly away from an older woman being a cougar to an ensemble friendship piece.

Finally, the show is set in Chicago and it could take a page out of new drama “The Chicago Code’s” book and utilize the city more. Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t film in Chicago, but making the city a character the way New York was in “Friends” (despite that show not filming in NYC either) would make it stand out.

Overall, the show has promise and we are proceeding with it, though a bit cautiously. Something that helps our optimism is that we’ve viewed the second episode and it’s actually better than the pilot. We also like the “Raising Hope” lead-in, as “Hope” has become our favorite new comedy on TV. FOX potentially has a solid hour of laughs on its hands.

Quick Thoughts & Tidbits

  • The use of Kris Marshall’s British accent as way to be inappropriate towards women was a funny gag (unlike the same use of it in “Love Actually,” which was our least favorite “Love” storyline). We hope to see that used in each episode, but just as a quick throwaway so as not to play out the joke.
  • One of the funniest parts of the episode was the female cop that pulls Adam over. Since the show is called “Traffic Light” and is enjoying its traffic metaphor, find a way to bring her back every so often.
  • The men primarily communicate via the speaker phones in their cars, which makes the men feel disconnected and the show a bit disjointed. If the audience doesn’t connect with the characters and also feel their connections with each other, there is no reason to keep watching. Ditch the speaker phone convention.

“Traffic Light” premieres Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
 

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."