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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
MIXED SIGNALS (FOX)
(written by Bob Fisher; directed by Chris Koch; TRT: 24:17)
The network's description: "MIXED SIGNALS is a new comedy series about three longtime friends and their attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable: to balance their relationships with their need for freedom. The series reveals how friendships and romances enhance - and further complicate - the lives of men and the women who love them. ETHAN (Kris Marshall, HUMAN TARGET, "My Family") is the perpetual bachelor. He loves women, and when he's in, he's all in - at least for three weeks. Charming, genuine and hopelessly independent, Ethan is finding out that as he gets older, the pool of women who are willing to take things day by day is rapidly evaporating. ADAM (Nelson Franklin, "The Office," "I Love You Man") recently moved in with his girlfriend, CALLIE (Alexandra Breckenridge, FAMILY GUY), and is learning how vastly different "she comes over a lot" and "she lives with me" really are. Adam is discovering there isn't much "me" time any more, there's only "us" time. MIKE (David Denman, "The Office") is a married lawyer still trying to figure out the male-female dynamic. He wants nothing more than to be a good family man to his wife, LISA (Liza Lapira, "Dexter," "Dollhouse"), and his infant son, but he's also trying to carve out a little space for himself. Currently that space is in his car, where he watches action movies in 15-minute chunks while telling his wife he's stuck in traffic."
What did they leave out? It's actually based on an Israeli series called "Ramzor" (Hebrew for "Traffic Light").
The plot in a nutshell: Best friends Adam (Nelson Franklin), Mike (David Denman) and Ethan (Kris Marshall) are all at different stages in their lives. Lawyer Mike has been married to Lisa (Liza Lapira) for six years and has a kid; magazine writer Adam is moving in with his girlfriend Callie (Alexandra Breckenridge); and paramedic Ethan's longest relationship is with his bulldog, Carl. In spite of the aforementioned disparity, they each continue to make time for each other - mostly in the form of three-way calls from their cell phones - to catch up on their various foibles.
Adam, in addition to moving in with Callie, is being pressured by his boss (Roger Bart) to get his son's favorite wrestler, the Sawing Clown - whom Adam just did a piece on - to appear at his Bar Mitzvah. Ethan is approaching the one month mark with his latest squeeze and is shocked to find himself pre-emptively dumped. And lastly, Mike - overwhelmed by parenthood - desperately wants to carve out some time for himself, a feat made all the more difficult after Lisa insists on listening in on one of the boys' aforementioned calls. All of the above however takes a backseat to Mike's education of Adam and Ethan on the perils of coupledom ("It's like we're on a big forever date," Adam notes about his new living together status). Really, that's just about it.
What works: Franklin, Denman and Marshall all have solid chemistry together as they tease and mock one another like old friends. And while everything here is pretty old hat - married guy is jealous of single guy! nice guy is worried about lying to his girlfriend in order to go out and see his friends! the lothario wonders if he's capable of commitment! - it still chugs along in a likeable fashion (Adam for instance is perpetually pulled over by the same cop - played by Nicole Randall Johnson - who finds herself in the middle of the guys' various discussions).
What doesn't: It's very much an in-one-ear-and-out-the-other show as there aren't many quotable lines or standout moments (a flashback involving their old college friend Ben, who was really into Chumbawamba, to its credit, gets a solid chuckle). Beyond that a feeble attempt to tie in the show's title - Mike's the red light because his life is happily standing still! Adam's the yellow light because he's considering stopping for good with Callie! Ethan's the green light because he's always moving forward! - can't quite break the show out of its standard relationship box. After all, the guys' problems are pretty vanilla (and three white guys as the three leads FOX, really?) - oh no, my impossibly cool girlfriend wants to spend time with me! my equally stressed wife actually wants her husband to help out! - told in fairly boilerplate fashion. That's not to say there isn't a show somewhere in here, I just...
The bottom line: ...wish it was more memorable.