A review of tonight’s “Enlisted” coming up just as soon as we have a mini-seminar on mole people…
FOX isn’t the only network to monkey around with the episode order for their shows – trying, for instance, to frontload the episodes they like best in order to hook the audience – but it’s probably the most aggressive about it. (Or maybe it’s just the most well-known for it, thanks to shows like “Firefly.”) “Pete’s Airstream” was the third episode filmed, and it winds up being the third episode to air – and the first in this new 9 o’clock timeslot – but it airs after an episode that takes place later (a semi-big deal was made last week of Private Ruiz transferring from Jill’s platoon to Pete’s, where here he’s still under Jill’s command), and was originally set to air significantly later in the season before FOX had a change of heart.
And I’m glad that, for all the tinkering, this one got to air relatively early, not only because it makes sense continuity-wise – it’s Pete getting to really know his soldiers for the first time, and starting to deal with what he went through in Afghanistan – but because substance-wise, it does such a great job of balancing humor and something more emotionally complicated, in the way Kevin Biegel said he hoped would be a core element of the series.
There’s no melodrama here to Pete’s struggle. He doesn’t have a big Hawkeye Pierce-style monologue about something traumatic he witnessed over there, and the words “post-traumatic stress disorder” are never uttered – and possibly not even applicable here. Pete is just… going through some stuff. And the vulnerable look on Geoff Stults’ face as Pete tries to explain this to Sgt. Major Cody says all we need to know for now. We understand that he’s having difficulty, if not the exact nature of it, and that’s enough for now – especially for the third installment of an unapologetically goofy sitcom.
While the two previous episodes emphasized the relationship between the brothers, here we get a lot more of the supporting cast, including Jill reluctantly taking on the friendship of the women in Pete’s platoon, while Pete has to listen to Dobkiss rap, endure Mort “Jamort” Gumble’s foodie discussions, etc. The brothers still have things to do – and I imagine a few different demographics did not object to naked Randy (even if he was a pouting, toilet paper-carrying naked Randy) – but there’s definitely an effort to flesh out the larger ensemble so the show can draw humor from all over the base.
I don’t expect the new timeslot to be a cure-all, but if a few more “Bones” fans kept the channel on FOX at 9, they got to see an episode that represents the ambitions of a show that deserves to stick around a good while.
What did everybody else think?