There was a real sense of "us vs. them" in the pilot of Traffic Light. See, there are these three guys. One's married, one's moving in with his girlfriend, one is single (and loving it!!!). They just wanna be guys, if only their nagging significant others didn't always get in the way. The episode shot for broad familiarity, and it didn't do so well. Todd, who took a peek at the pilot and wrote about it here, advised people to skip it altogether.
I agree. "En Fuego," the second episode, is a far better match for the actors' and actresses' strengths, and it takes the plot in a less, if somewhat still, predictable direction. The guys are no longer simply at odds with their ladies, but they sometimes work together with them, and when they do rub up against each other, the result is much more nuanced than, "Ladies always bein' ladies!"
Adam and Callie's relationship was the worst offender last week, but it's very much improved by introducing an unexpected wedge. Adam has this "move" he does to impress girls he dates: He goes to the carnival and wins a little stuffed dog, then names it after them; that way, there's a little reminder of his (presumed) adorableness around at all times. It's obviously a pretty lame thing to have as your "move," and the show rightfully has Adam's friends, and Adam himself, recognize that fact. It's no longer bad writing, but it's now savvier writing to round out a shaggy, unimaginative character. He's way more likable in this latter scenario, and his quest to reclaim CJ ("Callie Junior… only it's a boy") adds to the patheticness by having him feud with a miniature Vincent Chase. Also, just when I thought the show wasn't going to comment on the obvious little look-alike, they did.
Yes, the jokes have settled into a much breezier comedic rhythm. Improvisation works its way into later episodes, and here, it appears they're flirting with the form. Conversations aren't as stagnant, and little moments are given greater weight. Take Mike and Lisa's plot: Lisa runs into one of Ethan's ex-girlfriends, whom she really liked when the two of them were dating. She decides to start up a friendship for that reason and also for her skills on the tennis court. Mike continually warns her that it's a bad idea, yet she soldiers on. And for a while, yes, it's fine; the reunion with Ethan is pleasant and mature. Yet it quickly collapses, and now, Mike has something he can gloat about to Lisa. But he doesn't. He waits. And we see a quick montage of scenes with Lisa ready for her talking-to and Mike purposely avoiding the topic. Then, one morning, he wakes her up by shouting "I told you so" in her face. The following scene shows Mike on the court with Lisa, wearing a lady's sized shirt that says "Smash Sisters" and loudly calling out his opponent's foot faults. This is a lot more satisfying of an ending to their story, and it says more about their casual relationship than any line of dialogue could.
There's far more "show" vs. "tell" in "En Fuego." It's not the greatest story yet or anything, but I'm digging the way Traffic Light is letting the characters simply interact, without much else qualified. It's still a little hard to imagine these three guys as childhood friends—and I still have bad vibes from David Denman because of his character on The Office, obviously nothing personal—but scenes like the basketball one feel loosely scripted, which allows the characters and the actors to get to know each other. Plus, any show that employs Rafi from The League (and Shiva for that matter) is fine by me. I'll keep watching.