Review: Traffic Light 1×1

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.

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Review: Persons Unknown 1×1-1×3

Persons Unknown

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c , NBC

A little while ago, AMC and ITV1 remade The Prisoner. It was awful, so awful in fact that I gave up after three episodes and didn’t even bother reviewing it. Not only was it very dull, it entirely failed to understand the original’s paranoia and themes.

This is quite a common thing to happen: after all Cape Wrath/Meadowlands was pretty much The Prisoner but with criminals. So you might think that The Prisoner could never be remade well.

Fortunately, it seems someone did understand The Prisoner and although Persons Unknown isn’t exactly The Prisoner, Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) has taken many of the elements that made the show work, and after crossing them with elements from computer adventure games, transplanted them into this summer mini-series.

So don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before: in Persons Unknown our heroine is gassed and abducted and wakes up to find herself in a quaint small town in America. The town is impossible to escape from, cameras are watching the whole time, and bar a couple of store owners – and some fellow prisoners – the town is entirely deserted. Mysteriously, no one knows why they’re there, only that they have to escape. But who can they trust and why do the people behind it all keep playing games with them?

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The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

Third-episode verdict: The Ex-List

We’re three episodes into The Ex-List now so it must be time to decide whether to keep watching or not. As you might recall, it’s the story of a quite boring woman who gets told by a psychic that she has to get married within the year to someone she once dated or else she’ll doomed to end up alone. So dull woman starts checking out all her old boyfriends to see what they’ve become over the last 0-20 years, while her far more interesting friends go off and have far more interesting B-plots.

Like No Heroics, this is a show which if the main character were removed completely from the proceedings and the whole thing left to the supporting characters (especially her foxy history teacher friend and her boyfriend, who have quite an interesting relationship), it would actually be quite fun. Unfortunately, it’s not and things have only got more boring since the initial episode, with dull woman’s mountain-biking and cop boyfriends not even as interesting as the rock-star boyfriend of the pilot.If she, both actress and character, had perhaps just a bit more spark, the show would seem less interminable. But I’m not sure her vacillations and constant psychic consultations are appealing to anyone at all at the moment.

Not badly put together, and it has a nice sense of place (although San Diego struck me as having a few more Latinos when I was there) but hampered by the original Israeli format into being something less than it could be.

Will get cancelled in the not too distant future

Carusometer rating
Three or Minor Caruso


Review: The Ex List 1×1


In the US: Fridays, 9pm et/pt, CBS

What do women want? It’s a despairing thought asked by male TV executives all the time, in the hope of getting some female viewers for their networks. Sometimes they’ll look at the chick lit section of their local Barnes and Noble and go, “Oh. That’s what women want.” Other times, they’ll look at other female oriented TV programmes and copycommission appropriately.

Sometimes, though, they’ll look overseas, usually to Britain and sometimes to Canada. But for The Ex List, they looked even further afield: Israel.

The Ex-List‘s premise is dumbness in a glass: 33-year-old San Diego flower shop owner, Bella Bloom (seriously), takes her sister’s hen night party to a psychic and gets told she has a year to marry or she’ll die alone. After a series of other predictions come true, she becomes convinced the psychic is telling the truth. Thing is, she’s destined to marry someone she’s already dated, so she puts together a list of all her exes, and decides to try them out again, one at a time, to see which was really Mr Right.

So roll up, roll up for the oddball man vetting service.

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Review: The Surgeon

Just to show the Internet is opening up the whole world, Australian TV is now joining the UK, US and Japan in filling up the torrent sites.

The Surgeon is a nifty half hour show that I managed to catch, despite my queasiness for all things medical. It lacks the gloss of ER et al but is far more “warts and all” than its US counterparts: the staff have rubbish bedside manners, they make mistakes, they’re rude to each other, they spend time at work chatting when they should be paying attention to patients, and the equipment is old and practically obsolete. I have no idea if this is an accurate reflection of the Australian healthcare system, but it seems in keeping with the NHS so I’ll accept it as such for now.

I probably won’t watch any more episodes, since I’m not really into medical dramas, but it’s nice to know there’s a little variety on the web now.