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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Traffic Light- "Pilot"

You’ll hear a lot of people comparing this show to Perfect Couples and Better With You, two shows with admittedly similar premises. Like those predecessors, Traffic Light divides its stories amidst three separate but inherently connected groups. Here, the groups revolve around a trio of friends, Matt and Adam, two ex-college baseball players and their British buddy Ethan. The title, whose explanation is somewhat forcibly shoved in at the close of the pilot, refers to the station each man finds himself in his life. Matt is married and has a kid (red light), Adam is moving in with his girlfriend (yellow), and Ethan is a single guy who loves his freedom (green.)

That seems pretty reductive, and the pilot does seem to indulge in too many of the tired stereotypes and inanity that plague network sitcoms. But there is faint sense that the people behind Traffic Light are at least struggling to do something slightly different with their show. For most of the pilot Matt just seems like a bad father trying to get out of helping his wife, Lisa. Lisa veers a little too far into harridan territory at times but redeems herself nicely at the end.

More promising is the relationship between Adam and Callie. After some typical shenanigans involving Adam lying in order to get some free time away from Callie, the show pulls back to show that she too is feeling anxiety with the big lifestyle change. It’s a nice switch from the clichéd plot of woman having to rein in her overgrown adolescent.

It’s not really clear from the pilot what the point of Ethan’s character is going to be, other than to be How I Met Your Mother’s Barney with an English accent.

The pilot unfortunately relies on an absurd coincidence to drive the plot, but in between there are nice character moments, and jokes that arise from the plot and people and not from some gag machine. I think Traffic Light has promise as a light, un-ambitious, but solidly crafted comedy. At best it could be a more male oriented Cougar Town, but it does have a ways to go to get there.

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