Great New Show: Traffic Lights

I had to start leaving the room during Glee because the show drives me nuts and I don’t want to ruin it for the missus with my wise-ass comments. But, Fox makes up for that by putting on the wonderful Raising Hope on at 9:00 PM and then the brand new comedy Traffic Lights which had it’s fifth episode tonight (check out the previous episodes on the Fox site). I was skeptical of the show at first because the basic premise is everywhere right now: old friends deal with life and relationships as they get older. That sitcom subgenre can be done quite well–and is with How I Met Your Mother–but also seems to be the default, go-to scenario for every crappy show that mercifully disappears after a few months. Thankfully, Traffic Light isn’t like that. The key to the show’s success, much like that of HIMYM, is a combination of clever writing and performances that make you really believe that these three guys played by David Denman (Roy from The Office), Nelson Franklin and Kris Marshall (who had a bit, but awesome part in Love Actually) have been friends for a long time. They have such a natural chemistry together with their conversations about things like the greatest American rock band and whether communications should or shouldn’t be broken off with exes. The women are no slouches either. Denman’s married to Liza Lapira’s (21, Cloverfield) character and Franklin’s dating Aya Cash who has a less intense Isla Fisher quality to her (think Wedding Crashers). While the guys tend to talk to their friends about their problems with their women, the show doesn’t get into Everybody Loves Raymond territory where every single episode revolves around the man being a bonehead and learning a lesson about what it means to be in a relationship. Sure, SOME of the episodes revolve around that, but not all. Aside from being funny and well performed, Traffic Light really benefits from one of the hardest things to capture in a half hour comedy show: heart. It might sound cheesy, but all my favorite comedy shows have a good deal of heart involved and Traffic Light has that in spades. The first episode keeps mentioning a thing with another friend that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but eventually reveals itself to be the dedication of a baseball field for their friend who passed away. I think they really earned that moment and did well with it by having breakout star Franklin deliver a killer speech that was equal parts funny and touching. I’ll tell you what, I didn’t think I’d be this into a Fox sitcom, let alone two in a row!

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