Preview in Two: Fox’s “Enlisted”

Published: January 9, 2014, 9:25 pm, by Terry Terrones

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Preview in Two is a new feature on the Pop Culture Blog. Pi2 is a quick preview of an upcoming TV show that you can peruse in about two minutes (I watch the pilots of shows so you don’t have to!). This way, you’ll quickly know whether an upcoming program is worth your time or not. We started off  2014 with ABC’s “Killer Women.” Today we’ll take a closer look at Fox’s military comedy, “Enlisted.”

What is it?: ”Enlisted,” watch the official trailer here.

Star appeal: Geoff Stults and “that guy” actor Keith David

When does it air?: The pilot episode airs Friday January 10 at 8:30 p.m. on FOX

What’s the premise according to an ABC PR rep?: “A military-set family comedy, Enlisted centers on three brothers on a small Florida Army post and the group of misfits who surround them. Charming, funny and a natural-born leader, Staff Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) was on a path for a huge military career until one mistake overseas got him booted stateside to Fort McGee, the post where his two younger brothers – Corporal Derrick Hill (Chris Lowell) and Private Randy Hill (Parker Young) are stationed. Now, as their platoon sergeant, Pete must serve both as big brother and military boss.”

What are the highlights?: Most movies or TV shows that feature the Army are serious in tone so it’s nice to see a military comedy. As someone who has previously served in the armed forces, I know it’s a world with plenty of opportunities for humor. When the comedy in “Enlisted” works, it has a “Private Benjamin-y” feel, with a gang of goofballs getting away with various hijinx. There were several chuckle inducing one liners in the pilot, most of them courtesy of the underrated Geoff Stults and the always reliable Keith David.

What are the lowlights? There are a number of times when “Enlisted” crosses the line from “Private Benjamin” fun to “Police Academy” stupidity. Much of that has to do with cast. The men in Pete Hill’s platoon are straight out of Nerd Casting 101. There’s the two heavy set guys, the crazy person everyone is afraid of, the over the hill clueless guy and the nerd who looks like John Cochrane from “Survivor.” The Hill brothers don’t fare much better. One is a lazy, disobedient bitterman and the other has a Forest Gump level IQ. Aside from Stults and David, there just aren’t many likable characters. At least not yet.

The Grade: (B-): “Enlisted” elicited some laughs. If developed properly, I could see it being a military version of “The Office,” with goofy characters who shine brightest in brief moments. But during the pilot, this show was too full of cliches and stereotypes and had out of place moments of cheesiness that should have best been saved for when we’ve gotten to know the characters better. “Enlisted” doesn’t make the best first impression but it has potential.