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‘Traffic Light’ turns green for laughs


8:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays on WFLD-Channel 32

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Some of the most touching love stories of recent times have been between men. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. Troy and Abed. Seacrest and Cowell.

“Traffic Light” (premiering Tuesday on Fox) is a series about three buds who met at the University of Illinois. Now in their 30s, they’re trying to keep the bromance alive while adding their women to the mix. Essentially, they are a trio on their way to becoming “Men of a Certain Age.” (In fact, one of the womanizer character’s girlfriends is played by Carla Gallo, who also dated Scott Bakula’s womanizer character on “Men of a Certain Age.” Same guy, 20 years apart.)

It’s based on an Israeli series with an overreaching metaphor. There’s Mike, played by David Denman, best known as Pam’s jilted fiance on “The Office.” As a married man with a toddler, he’s a red light, content with where he is in life. He bonded on a road trip with Adam (Nelson Franklin), an “adorable giant” who’s just moved in with his girlfriend. He’s a yellow light, slowing down to get his bearings. English imp Kris Marshall plays Ethan, who has a new girl every episode. He’s a green light, welcoming all traffic.

All the men in the show speak guy language (see: Barney on “How I Met Your Mother”), which kept me smiling the whole time I watched. Even the carny at the milk bottle booth spoke it. “I got a guy,” Mike tells Adam as he advises him to send some apology flowers. “Ask for the Bastard Bouquet.”

The guys have some of their best talks when they’re driving around, conference-calling each other on their hands-free cell phones. It’s a variation on the concept that men leave a seat between each other when they go on their movie “man dates.” You know: They’re not gay or anything. This way, they don’t have to look each other in the eye or even be in the same room as they celebrate their mutual man crushes.

The first episode’s a little stiff as the guys mark their territory, but by the fourth the show feels sweatpants-comfortable. “Traffic Light” deals mainly with trivialities, so the stakes are low. It’s easy to watch. There’s something to be said for a show that doesn’t care if you smell.

I liked these guys, and I wouldn’t mind hanging out with them again.

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