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Sunday, January 12, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Enlisted

ENLISTED












Starring: Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, Parker Young, Angelique Cabral, and Keith David

Created by Kevin Biegel
Written by Kevin Biegel, Directed by Phil Traill

Enlisted is a new sitcom that takes place on a Florida military base where several army outcasts reside. When decorated Staff Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) punches a superior officer while in Afghanistan, he is punished and sent to a reserve base with his brothers Derrick and Randy (Chris Lowell and Parker Young) and a band of misfits. Rounding out the main cast in the Sergeant of a competing unit, Jill Perez (Angelique Cabral), and the tern Command Sergeant Major of the base, Donald Cody (Keith David).

THE GOOD: Enlisted was the biggest surprise for me of any new show this season. I didn't think it looked very funny from the previews so I went in with low expectations but it was actually quite funny and sweet. The characters are well-defined and the camaraderie/competition between the three brothers is strong and convincing. Geoff Stults is very strong in the lead role, he has the right amount of swagger and humility throughout the episode where he was really the driving character. There were several moments that made me laugh in the episode, which is rare for a pilot. This show seems to have a good idea of what it wants to be and what might seem initially like it's making fun of the military, comes across sweetly and earnestly.

THE BAD: This isn't just a knock on Enlisted but way too many pilots are feeling the need to introduce their main characters by having them do something then the frame freezes as a snarky title comes up to name them and describe them. A well-written comedy like this doesn't need to introduce each character that way, let us just meet them naturally. This episode didn't really have this problem but I worry that sometimes the show will get a little too silly for its own good. It's important that it stays lighthearted but I worry with a few scenes like the final battle, that it won't walk that line so well in future episodes.

BOTTOM LINE: FOX really missed an opportunity with this show. With it's sweetly silly feel and a funny ensemble filled with wacky characters, it would have been a great partner for Brooklyn Nine-Nine (compared to Dads). FOX could have at least given it a preview after an NFL game because this deserved a wider audience than it got in its DOA timeslot. I don't know how future episodes came out but the pilot was very promising and it's too bad more people aren't going to discover this little hidden gem when it's buried on a Friday night.

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