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TRAFFIC LIGHT Series Premiere Review

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TRAFFIC LIGHT Series Premiere Review

Traffic Light FOX

Photo Credit : FOX

There are sitcoms that sort of slide under the radar.  They don’t scream for attention, like perhaps a louder, brassier cousin, but they exist, and do so somewhat quietly for awhile, until eventually someone notices that the show is miraculously still on the air, and with good reason.

   By : SHAWNA BENSON

There are sitcoms that sort of slide under the radar.  They don’t scream for attention, like perhaps a louder, brassier cousin, but they exist, and do so somewhat quietly for awhile, until eventually someone notices that the show is miraculously still on the air, and with good reason.

The last show that evaded public consciousness was “Rules of Engagement” a little show on CBS that is now in its fifth season.  If the comedy gods are smiling, hopefully “Traffic Light” can become another stealth hit.  Despite its premise sounding not just like “Rules of Engagement” but about ten other shows on the air right now, there’s something about this show that keeps you rooting for its survival.

I don’t mean to damn the show with faint praise – it is not the cleverest show on television (that honor belongs to the winner of a witty cage match between “Modern Family” and “Community,”) but as network sitcoms go, it is inoffensive and occasionally even reaches for some touching relevancy in our crazy information overloaded world.  There’s something of “comfort television” to “Traffic Light” – instantly familiar, but providing just enough of a fresh perspective to keep you intrigued.

Traffic Light FOX

Photo Credit : FOX

“Traffic Light” is an adaptation of a hit sitcom in Israel called “Ramzor.”  The show is about three college friends, each in a different stage of their lives – Mike is married to Lisa and they have child; Adam and Callie have just moved in together and Ethan is in a relationship with a different woman every five minutes.

On the surface, it sounds like nothing special.  The cast isn’t especially well known – no “Saturday Night Live” refugees or popular stand-up comedians cast here, but it isn’t a complete whitewash, either.  Lisa, wife of Mike is played by Liza Lapira, an actress who has Filipino, Chinese and Spanish ancestry.  It’s nice to see not only a mixed race couple in a television sitcom, but one that isn’t just “black and white.”  Reflecting the true diversity of our society on television is a constant challenge for the networks, and Lapira is not only a beautiful addition to the landscape, but a damn funny one too.

I admit to having a soft spot for Kris Marshall, who is probably most recognizable as “Colin,” the idealistic Brit who goes to Milwaukee to woo women in “Love Actually.”  His comic timing is superb, and it is great fun to see him use his accent and his unconventional good looks to devilish effect (and it’s clear he knows that his strength is in this powerful combination of attributes) as the bachelor Ethan.  In fact, the entire cast seems to understand what makes their characters funny, without falling into the stereotypes of sitcom characters past.

Mike, Adam and Ethan maintain their connection to one another beyond college and into their adult lives, primarily by chatting with each other on conference calls in their cars as they commute.  Not only is this a realistic portrayal of how people carve out time for their friendships in our Facebook-addled world, but it’s a clever device, leading to misunderstandings, mixed messages, and yes, distracted driving which further the story.

I didn’t expect to like the show, but, rather like ivy, it grew on me.  Uncertain about the pilot, I watched the second episode, which prompted me to watch the third…and I now find myself looking forward to the future episodes, hoping that the promise of what is a familiar yet endlessly fascinating premise, human relationships, will be realized.  Given time and patience, “Traffic Light” could become the little sitcom that could.  Fox hasn’t had much success with live-action sitcoms in the last few years, relying heavily on its animated ones to get through the lean times, but with the addition of “Raising Hope,” there’s new promise for comedy on the network.  “Traffic Light,” though not as showy or groundbreaking as some of its brethren, certainly deserves a chance to flourish alongside “Hope” in the Fox lineup.

“Traffic Light” premieres on Fox Tuesday, February 8 at 9:30 PM ET.

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