Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Enlisted’

[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]

Show:“Enlisted” (FOX)
Airs:Fridays at 9:30
The Pitch:“Stripes” by way of Carl Hiaasen
Quick Response: Kevin Biegel’s semi-autobiographical military comedy about three brothers in a Rear Detachment Unit in Florida doesn’t deliver many laughs, but it does yield a ton of charm and when it comes to a comedy pilot, I often don’t ask for much more than that. All I want is a reassurance that spending a 22 minutes per week in this world will be pleasant and jovial and, in this case, I’m reasonably convinced. The core trio is quite strong. Geoff Stults continues to prove that he’s always been a sitcom star trapped in a soap opera leading man’s body, which probably isn’t working out so poorly for him. Chris Lowell delivers always-welcome sarcasm, even if I may need a bit more convincing he’s right for the Bill Murray or Chevy Chase role in this ’80s-flavored (but not set) pilot. The breakout, though, is almost certainly Parker Young, who doesn’t just prove that Ryan Shay was a repeatable phenomenon, but he continues to show that his lunkheaded good nature relies heavily enough on the “good nature” that the less-than-optimal IQ side never feels like caricature. I think Lowell might be a slight outlier in the trio’s chemistry, but that could just be because his character is the skeptic of the group. Or maybe you just can’t craft flawless chemistry in a pilot and I should just be satisfied that it’s already this solid. Keith David is the other key piece of the main cast and Keith David is rarely short of awesome. While the supporting ensemble is definitely a work-in-progress, several of them got chuckles from me in the pilot, so maybe I’ll have learned their names by midseason. It’s hard to get a feel for the show’s weekly approach to plot based on the pilot, which is initially premise-driven — Stults’ super-soldier gets in trouble in Afghanistan and returns home — but has to add a barely considered shaggy-dog subplot involving War Games against random Italians to get to the finish line. It’s intentionally a goof so that you can concentrate on the fraternal bonding and also affirm the VERY clear respect for our military that Biegel wants to maintain. With tens of thousands of US soldiers deployed in conflict zones around the world, you can tell this show doesn’t want anybody to think there’s minimizing or mockery afoot and it does that without ever feeling jingoistic. Like so many of this season’s better new comedies, the pieces are already here to be likable and fun. With any luck, that’ll evolve into being funny as it develops.
Desire To Watch Again: I’ll be happy to watch this one again, but I wonder where we’ll be watching it. “Enlisted” doesn’t premiere until November and by that time, if there’s any justice, “Dads” will have already flamed out. FOX knows “Raising Hope” can do OK numbers in that Tuesday 8 p.m. slot, but that could leave “Enlisted” without a comedy companion. “Surviving Jack” would make a reasonably good pair, but would FOX want to do a double-dose of new comedies on Friday? That would be odd. So we’ll all just wait for “Dads” to fail to see what happens!

Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Betrayal’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: The CW’s ‘The Tomorrow People’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘Hostages’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Trophy Wife’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries