Pilot Preview: Fox's Brothers-in-Arms Comedy Enlisted

By Tim Surette

Jul 26, 2013

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.

(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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  • dodge_hickey Aug 16, 2013

    Did you just call Louie a "5"??

  • ludoTV Jul 28, 2013

    I think this will be down to how funny the writing is... The cast is great (and hot) so if can be absurd and funny as Police Academy was but updated to 2013 (ie be a bit smarter, less obvious slapstick), it could work... Stults always seems to me more of a good guy than badass but let's see...

  • tv_gonzo Jul 28, 2013

    There is nothing wrong with banana-peel-slipping slapsticky comedy. In fact with lots of quality comedy like Wilfred, Community,.....it might be refreshing to go back to some sort of police academy-ish humor. Additionally, i think there is far to little physical humor going on in sitcoms.

  • CelestialDream Aug 15, 2013

    I agree, I feel like physical comedy has become kind of a lost art nowadays.

  • katikool Jul 27, 2013

    It's a shame, this show would actually have a chance on TBS, but Fox? I don't think so.

    Nothing about this show really does it for me, but because Stults is from my state I'm bound by law to at least give my homeboy a shot. It worked for The Finder!

  • DavidJackson8 Jul 27, 2013

    Everything about this screams Crap! but I'm gonna give it a try anyway. I think it may be because of Geoff Stults and Parker Young.

  • No1Slayerette Jul 27, 2013

    This isn't my sort of show... but from the trailer, as you said Tim, 'if it finds the right oddballs and spends quality time with them, it's worth a second look'.

    Actually, I think there are quite a few new sitcoms trying this tactic this season from the previews. The main story characters seem average, but there are glimpses of hilarity when secondary characters are involved so maybe shows are hoping that if there main 'plot/ idea' fails, they'll have this ensemble to fall back on.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 26, 2013

    Personally, I think this will be crap and will have been canceled and replaced by January. Sorry, Parker Young!

  • Montana_Katana Jul 27, 2013

    Yeah, and we all thought the same thing about Whitney.

  • modernfamily120 Jul 27, 2013

    But Whitney was on NBC.

  • Carla-Wexler Jul 27, 2013

    ...until she finally got canceled..lol!

  • ben45tpy Jul 26, 2013


  • 2wksnotice Jul 26, 2013

    This seems really at odds with the cultural zeitgeist. I think Fox should be worried.

    If the production team was smart, they would have cast at least one veteran in a lead role. I think it’s risky to show a bunch of career actors making slapstick jokes about incompetent soldiers – especially when none of them have actually served.

  • Chewyjr Jul 26, 2013

    They should make Police Academy the tv series...cause you know the youth of today needs to realize how awesome it was! I'm pretty sure Steve Guttenberg isn't doing anything too important! =P

  • JT_Kirk Jul 26, 2013

    The second Police Academy was the good one, the first was ok but was trying too hard to use other movies' voices. Anyway, the trailers for this looked like a Stripes wannabe, so Police Academy isn't too far off from that. Slapsticky is definitely not what I'm looking for though, sorry to hear that's the choice they went. And the cheap sentiment grabs always piss me off, so that's likely going to be a tripping point.