"Traveling Man" (Home Box Office, Sunday at 9 p.m.) aspires to be the "All About Eve" of the industrial foam selling business. Ben Cluett (John Lithgow) is the veteran selling champ; Billy Fox (Jonathan Silverman) is the young hotshot who learns the ropes from Ben and then tries to surpass him.
David Taylor's script sharply sets up the relationship between the two in their initial scenes together. But when the movie wanders away from the hard work of selling and from its focus on the two of them, it becomes diffuse and conventional.
A scene in which Ben looks up an old, disillusioned client injects a gratuitous note of melodrama. And two sequences are there for their scenic value more than for their relationship to the story.
In one, Ben becomes sexually entangled with a college student (Chynna Phillips) who videotapes their lovemaking. Although Ben acts shocked, the scene isn't really much more than an old-fashioned traveling-salesman joke.