Fox's short-lived sitcom 'Traffic Light' wasn't helped by its title
The title of a television show doesn't matter much until it does.
On Wednesday, Fox sent word that its midseason comedy "Traffic Light" was not going to make the cut for season two. The show, about a three best friends, two of which are in various stages of relationships while the third is still a player, had promise and was a notch above the dumb romantic comedies on other networks.
"Traffic Light" wasn't given any help by that title, which makes it sound like a program about the DMV. Originally, the sitcom was called "Mixed Signals." While that title was also far from ideal, at least it conveyed an idea that the show was about the different ways people communicate.
Another good show that suffered from a bad title that, if nothing else, confused viewers was FX's "Terriers." The breezy drama was about a couple of seedy investigators, not dogs.
Not every show needs a title that spells out exactly what the premise is a la TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" or CBS' "How I Met Your Mother." And, of course, lots of shows succeed without titles that indicate what the program is about. HBO's "The Sopranos" was about a mob family, not a singing group and folks figured that out pretty quickly thanks to a savvy marketing campaign that told viewers what the program was.
In an era when viewers have so much choice and so little patience, hanging a show with a title that tells the audience nothing or confuses them may not be the brightest idea in the world.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Fox's "Traffic Light" was canceled after one season. Credit: Carin Baer / Fox