Pilot Preview: Fox's Brothers-in-Arms Comedy Enlisted
Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com.
Enlisted – Fridays starting November 8 at 10:30pm on Fox
STARRING AND CREATED BY: Geoff Stults (The Finder) brings his handsomeness back to television as Enlisted's lead actor. Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars, Private Practice) and Parker Young (Suburgatory) round out the top spots, with Keith David (that voice!) and Angelique Cabral (All My Children) playing the boss and the love interest, respectively. Plus there are a whole bunch of character-actor comedians all over the place. Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel created the series, with comedy vet Mike Royce (Everybody Loves Raymond, Men of a Certain Age) on board as an executive producer.
THE GIST: Sergeant Pete Hill (Stults) is an army badass who's demoted to a Rear Detachment unit (the soldiers left behind to take care of the base when their units are deployed) after his fist gets a little too close to his commanding officer in Afghanistan. Here's the sitcom setup: Hill heads back to Florida to lead a unit of misfits, where both of his reject brothers (Lowell and Young) are also stationed! Military goofs and gags follow, with an extra special focus on re-establishing the brothers' relationships with each other.
SNAP JUDGMENT: Kinda Police Academy-ish. The first one, not those terrible sequels. Or was it the second one that was good? I can't remember. Point is, these dudes are underdogs and slackers in a very rigid environment and that means a lot of fat guys doing jumping jacks and a tiny woman exhibiting a lot of aggression unbefitting her slight stature (classic Cadet Laverne Hooks right there). There's a lot more potential than laughs in the pilot, but the humor that does exist makes me fear that Enlisted is content with being a banana-peel-slipping slapsticky comedy. However, if it finds the right oddballs and spends some quality time with them, it'll be worth a second look. Also, there are plenty of sentimental stories to mine within the idea that these are men who are willing to serve their country, but who've also been rejected by their country.
PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: The symptoms here include a major case of predictability, especially with the possibly rival Rear D unit being fronted by the inevitable love interest. And because there's a big cast, the character molds are quickly and repeatedly reinforced without ever bothering to let anyone take a more unique shape. Does that make sense? Lots of characters. Not a lot of time to spend with them. So we get their broad-stroke portraits. But that's easily fixable over time, and it's a problem all ensemble comedies face.
FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Comedian Ron Funches makes an appearance as a member of Hill's team, and he's hilarious. However, he's also been cast in a bigger role in NBC's Undateable, so he probably won't appear in more Enlisted episodes. And for those of you who didn't watch Suburgatory, now's your chance to meet Parker Young.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I only counted one shot to the groin! That's either one too many or 38 too few. I haven't decided yet.
EXCITEMENT LEVEL: On a scale of 1 to 10-HUT! I'm giving this a 5. Not 5 being bad, but 5 being right in the middle. I mean, there's Whitney, but there's also Louie. So 5 sounds about right.
PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS:
(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)
1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama
2. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain
3. Dracula - Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the fanged one in this reimagining of the classic story of an undead guy chasing his old girlfriend
1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process
2. Enlisted - Geoff Stults goes to army reject camp with his two brothers
2. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship
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