|Stars of Traffic! Bongo Mbutuma, Bonnie Mbuli and Kagiso Rakosa|
Whenever there's a new local drama, we are always nervous on how we will receive it. Most times it's with disappointment and with a head shake, we quickly switch off the TV and go to a streaming site to watch the latest episode of Sherlock.
So that I was able to watch the whole first episode of e.tv and eKasi+'s Traffic! should be a good thing for the show.
Cop dramas are usually hit and miss, especially in South Africa. While ratings are a huge thing in the US, in South Africa they are not that much of a pointer when it comes to whether a series is a critical success or not. The bets cop drama we've had in the country is Interrogation Room, starring Nambitha Mpumlwana and Dumisani Mbebe. It was a beautifully written and acted drama and it was a travesty when Nambitha and Dumisani left the show.
So I had high hopes for Traffic! Besides having a great lead actress in Bonnie Mbuli, and supporting roles by Bongo Mbutuma, Kagiso Rakosa and Mbulelo Grootboom, Bonnie was quoted in several media, including e.tv's website, that this is "the most challenging role I've ever undertaken."
So what did I think? Well the show has potential.
The show opens with a chase. A panic-stricken woman is being chased by someone, possibly a murderer. She then comes across a pay phone and calls the police station, looking for Lungi Mlaba. Then the chaser catches up with her and the scene cuts to the viewer meeting Lungi at home. She's berating her sister for her late night activities, worried that her studies are going to be affected. She's the caring sister, the one we all would love to have. Then when she gets to work, she's that hardcore detective, who is all about business and solving crime. The captain comes to tell her about a phone call she received and she's angry they didn't take it seriously, realising that this is a possibly crime matter. She goes out to investigate, but is stopped by the captain who wants her and Songezo, her partner, to help his businessman friend shut down a club.
Eventually they get to the scene of the crime and they look around, finding bits of evidence here and there, including a necklace, which she pockets. They also come across two street children and ask them if they've seen anything or heard screams.
They go back to the station, but it's obvious that this case is getting her to obsess about it, so she goes back, alone, looks around and finds a shoe, and then a trail of blood leading her to the body of the girl.
What I liked
I like Lungi Mlaba. She's a hard working go-getter ball buster, who would do anything to see justice served. I also like that she's a dedicated cop who doesn't like being steamrolled by the Captain and his rich friends. She cares about solving crimes and making her city a better place. She's also a caring person. On one of the opening scenes, she asks her neighbours daughter what she is doing on the street and telling the mother to look after the child. That's how the police are supposed to be like. But most of all, I love how she's a caring sister. She shows that family is important to her and is concerned about her sister skipping school and the crowd she hangs around with.
I like the tension between her and her partner, Songezo. There's a good relationship there and a mutual respect, even though she's his 'boss'. It also makes a refreshing change that the lead is a woman, especially on a cop drama.
She's dedicated and she doesn't mind working alone to solve the crime. She finds the girl after going back to the scene, twice. It shows her determination at solving crime.
I'm looking forward to see how her arch plays out. The two forces of work and family could present interesting viewing.
What I didn't like
Who goes to a crime scene without a forensics team for back up? Not only for back up, but to cordon off the area of investigation. Surely as head detective, she should insist on going with the forensics team at all times when going to a crime scene? Maybe it's because we watch too many US crime drama's, but I can't help but think that it's strange.
9.35pm on a weekday is very late. It's too late. What is stopping e.tv from screening the show after Scandal or at 8.30pm? Are they that afraid of Isibaya? And 9pm? It's just not going to work. I'm certain that the show will get better ratings at an earlier time.
It's not bad. I'll give it a 3/5 for now. It can improve. A lot. Bonnie and Bongo are great together and while the casting of Kagiso Rakosa is surprising, maybe this will prove that her acting skills do exist.