A review of tonight’s “Enlisted” coming up just as soon as I have my erotic fiction boot camp…
More episode order shenanigans: “Homecoming” was meant to be the tenth episode, and to air in the fall when FOX would have a slate of NFL games two days later. Once the series was bumped to January, FOX moved it up in the order so that Pam Oliver’s cameo and the other football jokes would run right before the Super Bowl. This all seems to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth – would anyone really care if Oliver showed up a month or so after football season ended? – and as a result, we get dropped in on the middle of Derrick’s relationship with Erin the single mom waitress, and will have to see the start of that relationship in a later episode. Just goofy.
About the only advantage of getting this episode this early is that it gives us a glimpse of what kind of creative shape “Enlisted” was much later in production of season 1. Many comedies take a while to find themselves, and while I’ve enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen so far (including “Prank War,” which will air on Valentine’s Day), the show definitely has room to improve, and you can see some of that in “Homecoming.” With all the introductions out of the way, the interactions between the brothers, or between Pete and the platoon, or Sgt. Major Cody and anyone else, work much more fluidly. We can get a few background jokes about Dobkiss being a pyromaniac without having to pause to remind everybody which one he is, Jill can move on and off the football team with ease, etc.
And as a lover of both straightforward sports movies and the parody kind (check the gallery below for HitFix’s attempt to rank the best football movies ever), there was almost no way I wasn’t going to enjoy the platoon’s humiliation at the hands of the Marines, plus Pete sacrificing his dignity and his favorite half-shirt to set up a deceptive touchdown to win the bet. The Randy/Derrick subplot, meanwhile, played off of the tear-inducing phenomenon of surprise soldier homecoming videos in a way that found humor without mocking the reunions themselves, and again played to Randy’s strengths as the emotional one in the family. Plus, I was amused when Brandon turned out to be… Brandon (Routh).
Last week’s episode got a ratings bump after airing directly after “Bones.” Unfortunately, FOX announced this week that “Bones” would be moving back to Mondays, making tonight the last time “Enlisted” gets an original “Bones” lead-in. (Reruns for the next few weeks, then “Kitchen Nightmares” starting Feb. 28.) That’s unfortunate, but I hope FOX execs recalibrate their expectations accordingly – and that, if the show manages to make it to a second season, they start running the episodes in the intended order.
What did everybody else think?