Hey, did you know the guy from The Finder got a new show? And also there are some jokes.
Supersoldier Geoff Stults gets demoted back to Stripes-esque rear deployment unit where he must swallow some pride and turn some sad sacks into reasonable facsimiles of soldiers. Two of those sad sacks happen to be his brothers – Chris Lowell, who doesn’t want to be in the Army, and Parker Young, who does but maybe should have listened to a career counselor in high school. We’ll skip all the stereotypical side characters for the moment.
And with such a description it’s unsurprising that no one is watching this FOX freshman. Which is actually a bit of a shame since I actually laughed – out loud, even – more than thrice whilst burning through the first four episodes. Believe me, I’m just as surprised as are you.
The show is at its best with dialogue so rapid it almost overlaps – sharp, very funny, often witty stuff, with spot on physicalities. Typically you’ll see this when all three brothers are in a scene together, or when Keith David steps on screen to take Barry Bostwick’s crown as Incongruous Boss Figure. That’s totally a thing and there’s totally a crown for it. Look it up.1
It’s at its worst when they spend any more than a line or two with one of the side caricatures. That’s a smack primarily at the writers for failing to give some very funny character performers2 anything to work with. Seriously, they’re giving them a choice bon mot here or there and then filling the rest of the time with lines I can predict from a mile away or that sound like they came from a forgotten episode of Saved By The Bell. Worse, when this happens the joke content is usually ha ha race or ha ha gender stereotype. This show is often smart, but it’s often really dumb, too, and not in a good way.3
None of this is likely to matter: Enlisted probably won’t last long – either network interference is adding too many ingredients and/or the writing/production team just doesn’t have a clear enough view on how to build an episode from a bunch of good jokes. In the meantime, it’s surprisingly good for quite a few laughs. It would be surprisingly great if everyone would just let it be an office comedy with the brothers driving each week’s plot. Seriously! It’s the damn Army! You could mine bureaucracy jokes until the cows come home4 and never have to set foot near rimshot territory…
- Also, Keith David is totally awesome, and was a brilliant choice for the boss/father figure here. ↵
- Oh it is good to see Mel Rodriguez getting work. ↵
- There’s also a smidge of a question about whether Enlisted can balance respect for the armed forces with the rag-tag bunch of personalities and skills involved in the show’s unglamorous setting. So far it hasn’t been much of an issue though I say that as a former military civilian; actual deployed or homefront personnel could well feel differently. From the looks of the production company credits the creator has some military experience, either personally or via close family, so… it probably won’t be a disaster? ↵
- from the mine? ↵