Need a good laugh? Not sure about whether or not to check out FOX’s new series Enlisted (premiering Friday, November 8th at 9:30 EST)? Not sure if the laughs can be plenty? Well stand at attention, viewer! I’ve seen an early cut of the pilot of the new FOX series, and you can find out if you should advance or do an about turn, but first let’s ponder if this examiner is truly stronger than a panda bear.
I’m with you, Rear D: I love panda bears. Their fur is so soft and supple.
No but seriously, the series Enlisted is a new single-camera series focusing on two brothers, Corporal Derrick Hill (Chris Lowell ) and Private Randy Hill (Parker Young) who welcome their older brother Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) who is joining them as they serve on the Rear Detachment (also known as Rear D) unit, comprised of soldiers left behind when everyone else has been deployed for a myriad of reasons such ranging from weight, general lack of athletic prowess (surprisingly these can be two different things), army-know-how and bad attitudes. But despite how it doesn’t paint them on the surface on a good light, these soldiers, these men and women mow lawns, sort mail, wash tanks, and most importantly, they take care of families of deployed soldiers. Whatever they need or ask for, Rear D accommodates them.
Pete, played here to comic perfection by Stults, is the classic swarmy-loveable wise-ass who punches a commanding officer when on duty overseas and as such, is sent to Rear D which to any ‘highly-trained specimen’ is considered a punishment. His brothers Derrick and Randy have different thoughts; Randy is so happy and excited to see Pete back while Derrick is “still a dick”. Pete is placed in charge of the small band of misfits and is going to lead them in some war games, but first needs to find a dog named Boogie who has gone missing. Naturally, for Pete, this is a living hell.
By the end of the pilot, we all know, as any good viewer does, that Pete, Derrick and Randy will not completely mend bridges but will connect in a way they haven’t in a while, and the group will form some sort of connection.
It is important to stress though that Enlisted brings the laughs. While some were ‘funny ho-ho’ (i.e. internal “Oh that’s funny”) moments, there were quite a few ‘funny ha-ha’ (i.e. laugh out loud) moments as well, more than I was ever expecting. What also struck me was how quick-paced the show was, which, while was refreshing and it kept the laughs solid, it also inevitably leads to one of my few concerns about the pilot.
Being that I’d like to get the most negative criticism out of the way (note: it is not as harsh as it may start to come of/be, but), I felt that at the end, during a moment where Pete truly sees the impact that Reg D can provide not just for others but for himself, the brothers jokey little comments undercut the full heart of the moment… and I don’t really know why, but it really took me out of it. While I expected it, and in my head, I literally thought the same thing Derrick says, it sincerely removed me from the scene in such a way that the tear ducts in my eyes felt like they got an emergency cease and desist order.
And maybe it is my inner-nerd who likes sappy endings, or, well, anything with real heart to it but I felt a bit bummed by the fact that the show would undercut itself during such a proceeding instead of underscore it. And while I also get the concept of that is how brothers (or those with close-knit cousins/family) would behave, or there is the other idea that you don’t wanna risk being too emotionally heavy in your first episode out, (you want to not leave people feeling sad) I guess it comes down to wanting a bit more.
Being that a pilot is everything the show will be/continue to try to live up to or grow upon/build on, it does come down to what is the future of the series? Enlisted does have a bit of a fine line it straddles with outright goofy jokes (for example: the motorcycle and Randy blowing up an gas truck gags*) and witty ones.
(*) – it should point out that while I mention these as possibly goofy gags, the seires makes them work, the question is, on a week to week basis, will the show straddle the deranged and cartoon-like humor or not?
I also really wanted the show to be longer, but from a pilot, that’s really a good thing.
(*) – I would state too that I understand completely that the rules of any television pilot is that it sets up the general rules of the series and offers viewers a door to the world of the characters and the situation that they can invite into their living room or smartphone app, etc week to week. Creator Kevin Biegel, like any other pilot writer, has an amazingly tough job.
Luckily for us, Enlisted is fast and furious with it’s laughs, with a comical styling that is all over the map from goofy and cartoony (the bike in the tree) to zany dialogue (“There’s no such thing as man flowers.”) which more than assures I will be tuning back in come November 8th.
To see some additional thoughts on Enlisted, please check out the full review posted on The TV King.
Enlisted airs Friday, November 8th, 2013 on the local FOX affiliate which is WTTE 28 and can be found on channel 8 . For HD channel versions, check your local cable or satellite provider for more information.
But what do YOU think, examiners?