There are few — if any — things about Enlisted, the new Fox comedy from Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel, that are groundbreaking. The story of a light-hearted approach to military life has been done many times before, and the show’s misfits angle is reminiscent of more recent series like Community, or even another new Fox comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (the make up of the cast is also remarkably similar). But Enlisted does have Cougar Town‘s fast pacing and quirky tone, with occasional laugh-out-loud zingers that make it more than just an average comedy. Hit the jump for more.
Enlisted follows the story of the three supremely attractive Hill brothers — “Supersoldier” Pete (Geoff Stults), sarcastic Derek (Chris Lowell) and sweet Randy (Parker Young) — who find themselves together at Fort McGee, a Florida military base that is home to the Rear Detachment, i.e. the soldiers left behind to take care of the base (washing tanks, mowing lawns, and comforting army wives in the most chaste of ways). The trio were raised in a military family, with a father who was later killed in action, leaving them with a strong military connection that — despite their varied personalities — brought them together in the same place.
Enlisted kicks off with Pete getting kicked out of his regiment in Afghanistan after punching a superior officer. He is then put in charge of a unit of “colorful misfits” (including his brothers) at Fort McGee, under the supervision of an old family friend (Keith David). From there, Enlisted plays up the humor of the rag-tag team, as well as the love and friction among the brothers.
The chemistry here is key, and while Lowell doesn’t quite seem like he fits in with Stults and Young, the three have a nice mix of personalities that play off of each other in a fun and easy way. Like Cougar Town, Enlisted is occasionally prone to some schmaltz, but for the most part it’s too fast-paced and snappy to get slowed down much by the occasional emotional moment. Even the quasi will-they-won’t-they between Pete and a female unit officer (Angelique Cabral) is subversive in its execution, with both too focused on their units and competitive nature to allow for much flirtation (as one episode is specifically devoted to illustrating).
Fox comedies are a mixed bag, with some hidden gems (like Brooklyn Nine-Nine) thrown in among true horrors (like Dads). Though Enlisted is premiering in an unfortunate Friday night timeslot, it doesn’t deserve to be. It hasn’t proved itself to be any great legacy comedy series, (as of the first four episodes), but it’s a lot better than most.
That may seem like damming with faint praise, but Enlisted is a genuinely jolly show, with enough zingers per episode to make it worth checking out. It’s also stocked with an extremely attractive cast, which is never a bad thing. As for that cast, Parker Young, who played Ryan Shay on Suburgatory, is a real standout, bringing a level of physical comedy to things that elevates all of the material. And, though the show is respectful of the military, it also tosses in a few quips here and there to challenge certain policy (“but tell me, does the drone program really fit in with the overall mission to win the hearts and minds?”)
Ultimately, Enlisted is an old-school comedy with a fresh tone. It doesn’t ask much from its viewers, and sometimes, that’s just what you signed up for.
Enlisted premieres at 9:30 p.m. Friday, January 10th on Fox