What’s Behind the ‘Traffic Light’

The new comedy “Traffic Light” debuted on Fox this week, to some pretty light ratings. Just 4.59 million tuned in for the new series starring  David Denman, Liza Lapira, Nelson Franklin as a bunch of guys at different stages in their relationships.

Even its producers, which includes Connecticut native David ,Hemingson, agree the title can be confusing for a romantic comedy.

But it was based on an Israeli series that had a similar title.

“In Hebrew it’s ‘Ramzor’ which means ‘traffic light,’ says executive producer Bob Fisher. “So when I wrote the pilot and in the initial development stage, it was always called ‘Traffic Light.’”

Some thought “maybe it’s a slightly confusing title,” Fisher told reporters at the TV critics’ press tour last month. “So we went to this title ‘Mixed Signals,’ which seems like a romantic comedy.”

They went back to “Traffic Light,” though, because “it’s distinct in its own way, and this year when there’s so many romantic comedies.”

More than that, says Denman, “it’s also in reference to the different stages of these guys’ relationships.

“I play the married guy who is very happy, you know, with where he’s at in life. So I’m red.

“Nelson and Aya are just moving in together. They’re yellow.”

And Kris Marshall who Ethan, Denman says “is the green light, doesn’t necessarily want to settle down.”

Besides, says Fisher, there are plenty of scenes where the guys are in traffic, calling each other on the phone.

“A big component of our show is actually sitting in traffic on the phone,” Denman says. “To try to carve out a little time to be able to continue those relationships, a lot of it’s done in the car driving to and from work or doing errands and he’s catching up with his buddies. So that’s partially the title. You know, a lot of our time is spent in the car talking and I do that personally. Whenever I’m in the car, I’m talking with friends and stuff on my way to or from work.”

Hemingson, the West Hartford native who previously worked on such shows as “Just Shoot Me,” “Kitchen Confidential,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Deep End,” says the car phone was the main way he stayed in touch with the other producers to develop the show.

“We’d catch up with each other when we’d be in the car,” Hemingson says. “So when we were doing the show, we thought this is such an incredibly accurate representation of how our relationship is evolving and how we’re communicating and how we’re advising each other. So we decided to make it a material component of the show going forward.”

Franklin says it’s a good place to shoot comedy. “When you’re having a scene with someone who’s not physically in the room with you, the facial expressions you make and the gestures you can do are like limitless because the person’s not there. You can tease them all you want with your face or whatever. It’s very entertaining. I felt the most free as an actor when we were in the car.”

“Traffic Light” plays Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox, following “Raising Hope.”

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