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TV Review: Fox's 'Traffic Light' Is Shockingly Funny

“Traffic Light” (Fox)
Carin Baer/FOX

The Bottom Line

Can talking while driving be funny? Fox's new romantic comedy presents a wholly believable situaton that is also very amusing.

Airdate

9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 (Fox)

Cast

David Denman, Liza Lapira, Nelson Franklin, Aya Cash, Kris Marshall

The network has a winner with this anything-but-generic romantic comedy, co-starring "The Office's" David Denman, writes Tim Goodman.

It could be argued that Fox has pulled off something even more remarkable with the debut of the less-than-thrillingly titled Traffic Light, a romantic comedy whose concept was imported from Israel: because it is both funny and remarkably realistic.

Do you know how hard it is to create that combination? Nearly impossible. The romantic comedy always seems like a good idea on paper, only to end up horrible -- filled with cliches and the broadest of comic moments and, at the core, a series of relationships that can only be considered normal to TV biz people who watch a lot of rom-coms.

But Traffic Light presents two couples and one single guy in a way that is wholly believable. In the same way that Modern Family has been able to mine comic gold out of everyday struggles, Light keeps the couple-banter and the friend-banter surprisingly relatable and, in the biggest shocker, enormously funny.

The conceit of Light is that three best friends, now in their 30s, are in different stages of their lives. They have jobs, wives, a baby, a live-in girlfriend, etc. So they often carve out time for one another by talking while driving. Initially, this might seem awkward, but it works and produces humor -- partly because they don’t linger on the scenes.

Mike (The Office's David Denman) and Lisa (Liza Lapira) are married with a toddler. Adam (Nelson Franklin) and Callie (Aya Cash) just moved in together. Ethan (Kris Marshall) is the happy bachelor. Nobody in the cast is fall-on-the-ground beautiful; they look like people you might see if you were ever to go outside of Los Angeles.

Light sometimes feels like a mash-up of How I Met Your Mother and The League, with doses of Men of a Certain Age -- comparisons that should be celebrated. It isn’t just a generic romantic comedy. That it has been able to play in that genre and be funny and believable enough to transcend it is quite the accomplishment.