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Saturday, May 25

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Television Mon May 09 2011

'Traffic Light': Witty Couples in Fake Chicago

trf_102_002_509.jpgWhen you hear the words "Fox midseason replacement," your first instinct probably isn't to make a run for the TV set. So maybe you haven't seen Traffic Light, the next in our tour of Chicago TV shows, which started this February in the timeslot vacated by the defunct Running Wilde.

Even if you've seen the show, you may not have realized that it's set in our fair city. As a single-camera (read: movie style, not "live studio audience") sitcom with tons of outdoor footage - the characters are frequently on the phone with one another while driving thier respective cars - the program is full of opportunities to glimpse the city in action...but not this city. Traffic Light is shot is Los Angeles.

In fact, the show rarely brings up its Chicago setting. Aside from the pilot, which discusses the main characters' move to the city after bonding at U of I, and the presence of "Bloke Magazine," which could be a sideways nod to Playboy, Chicago isn't really mentioned. This is probably for the best. Had its purported setting been more obvious when the show started airing in February, the barrage of scenes set at BBQs and public pools might have driven freezing Chicagoans mad with confusion and jealousy.

Honestly, there is no reason for this show to be set in Chicago, even if it's in name only. Sometimes it seems as though the writers plum forgot about the setting, as in the episode "Breaking Bread," wherein Mike (David Denman, who played Roy on The Office) realizes his next-door neighbor is jamming with Chad & Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And sure, that could happen in Chicago. Just like we could have a sunny day for outdoor party in mid-March. It's just a bit of a stretch.

That said, in my eyes, these location problems are the show's only major flaw. It may be a show about relationships, but it is consistently laugh-out-loud funny, with a dynamic cast that is cute and witty without being unbelievable. Alas, like many hilarious television shows, it may not be long for this world; check it out while you can, and pretend it's set in the warm, sunny Chicago you've been dreaming about.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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