Review: Traffic Light 1×1

Another Israeli import ready for cancellation

Traffic Light

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30c/8.30c, Fox

Poor Alex Breckenridge. She never has much luck with Israeli imported TV formats, does she? One of the best things about both Dirt and Life Unexpected, she was also the best thing about The Ex-List, one of the first TV show formats to be imported by the US from Israel (the other being In Treatment). The Ex-List lasted all of four episodes before getting canned, but alas, poor Alex, she was in the pilot for Fox’s new rom com, Traffic Light, back when it was called Mixed Signals, and then she got recast. Not even an episode this time.

Still, if it’s any consolation to her now she’s on True Blood, this one looks like it’s going to last about four episodes too, especially since it’s currently in the practically-dead Running Wilde‘s time slot.

Based on the popular Israeli sitcom, Ramzor (which is apparently very funny if you can speak Hebrew), Traffic Light – which had a better title back when it was Mixed Signals – feels like an odd mix of a lot of the other rom-com sitcoms out there right now, particularly Rules of Engagement, Perfect Couples and Better With You. It sees three guys, one heavily married, one considering moving in with his girlfriend and one perpetually single, trying to navigate their friendships and their relationships, all while slightly disapproving, slightly dull women look at them as they mess up and embarrass themselves.

You know who else doesn’t have much luck with TV series these days? Kris Marshall – yes, him off the BT ads and My Family. He’s in this, too.

Cue two almost identical trailers, one with Alex, one without, all with Kris. By the way, these contain all but three of the jokes in the first episode, so you can save some time by watching them.

TRAFFIC LIGHT is a new comedy about how friendships and romances – though often difficult and sometimes messy but always worth the work – both enhance and complicate our lives. The series centers on three longtime friends and their attempts to navigate the demands of their relationships.

MIKE (David Denman), ADAM (Nelson Franklin) and ETHAN (Kris Marshall) have been friends since college, and the trio has seen each other through highs and lows. Now in their 30s, these men find themselves at very different stages in their lives.

Mike is a married lawyer who wants nothing more than to be a good family man to his wife, LISA (Liza Lapira), and his young son, but he’s also desperately trying to carve out a little space for himself. Lisa understands this, which is why their marriage is a loving game of give and take.

Adam recently moved in with his girlfriend, CALLIE (Aya Cash), and is learning how vastly different “she comes over a lot” and “she lives with me” really are, especially when his girlfriend is an adventurous, straight-talking firecracker.

Ethan is the perpetual bachelor. He loves women, and when he’s in, he’s all in – at least for three weeks. Charming, genuine and hopelessly independent, Ethan is finding out that as he gets older, the pool of women who are willing to take things day by day is rapidly evaporating. Luckily, he has CARL, his beloved, long-suffering bulldog.

TRAFFIC LIGHT is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Keshet Broadcasting Ltd./Kuperman Productions. Bob Fisher, David Hemingson, Adir Miller, Elad Kuperman, Avi Nir and Ran Sarig serve as executive producers. The series was adapted for American television by Fisher, and is based on the original Israeli series, “Ramzor,” by Miller. Chris Koch directed the pilot.

Is it any good?
Well, the funny bits were largely in the trailer, so you judge. But on the whole, while it was a whole lot smarter and a whole lot better written than a lot of sitcoms, it’s not especially funny and not especially original.

There are three male characters and they are the focus of the show – the women revolve around them and provide obstacles for them in life. Everything is from their point of view. Not so edifying so far, but they’re okay as people. You don’t want to gouge their eyes out like you do with the scumbags on Rules of Engagement, for example.

Kris Marshall’s character is the funniest, a Brit who seems to have lived in America forever so speaks fluent American, right down to the sports lingo but hasn’t lost his accent. You might imagine him to be a David Spade dickhead, but he’s not. He’s okay.

The other two are largely unremarkable, which is probably the best that can be said about the female characters, too, so largely the show has to gain its humour from the situations in which the characters end up. And to its credit, some of them are actually quite funny and well observed. And they’re in the trailer, with about three exceptions. Heaven knows what the rest of the show will be like when it’s exhausted its supply of comedy situations.

But by the end of the episode, I didn’t want to get to know any of the characters further and none of their situations really held any promise. I’ll watch the second episode, just to see what they pull out of the hat and because I like Kris Marshall, but this isn’t a promising start.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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