'Enlisted' Review: A Brilliant Military Comedy with Heart
Friday, January 10, 2014
TV comedies almost never start out good. It usually takes a few episodes to find their rhythm. Even the best comedies like Seinfeld, Friends, The Office, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation took time to become great. FOX's new comedy, Enlisted (Fridays at 9:30pm) is the rare exception to the rule.
This military family comedy is confident, charming and hilarious right out of the gate. The chemistry of the cast and effortless balance of comedy and heart are inspiring, not only making it the best new comedy of the season, but one of the best new comedies in years.
Enlisted centers on three brothers in the Army working on a Florida military base in the Rear Detachment unit, the soldiers who stay behind during wartime to help the families of those overseas. That could be a touchy subject for a comedy, one that risks the appearance of not taking the military seriously, but Enlisted strikes the right balance. In fact, the show is taking the Army so seriously that it's sponsoring a "Spot Our Snafus" contest for the premiere, where people are encouraged to write down the show's inaccuracies when it comes to the military in order to improve its authenticity.
The show's trio of brothers are led by Staff Sergeant Pete Hill (The Finder's Geoff Stults), a super soldier whose cockiness and lack of respect get him sent back to the Rear-D unit from the frontlines. Back in Florida he reconnects with his brothers, the surly and snarky Derrick (Veronica Mars' Chris Lowell) and the overeager but not-too-bright Randy (Suburgatory's Parker Young).
Enlisted's success is due largely to their incredibly chemistry as brothers and the way each perfectly establishes their characters and relationships. The real breakout star is Young, whose dumb jock Ryan Shay on ABC's Suburgatory only scratched the surface of his comedic abilities. On Enlisted he's like a newborn puppy, so desperate to please and willing to throw himself into any activity by giving 110 percent, even if he's woefully unqualified.
The cast is rounded out by Angelique Cabral as Jill Perez, a rival sergeant to Pete whose domineering intensity make her a perfect competitor (and obvious love interest) and Keith David as the paternal commander of the base.
The pilot of Enlisted owes a lot to the classic Bill Murray movie Stripes, about a group of misfits in the Army. But it's more than just wacky military hijinx, and the true magic of the show comes from its heart. The brotherly love is a deep and important part to the soul of the show, and so is the desire to show that the Rear-D unit is an integral part of the military. In the first episode they're tasked with finding a lost dog, which isn't as insignificant as it sounds.
It's a bit unsettling that FOX has decided to launch this new comedy Fridays at 9:30pm in January, but that shouldn't be a deterrent. Enlisted is a special show, one in which the comedy is matched by its heart and every character is one you want to see more of. It's the best new show of the season, the best new comedy in years and one that deserves to be watched.
(Image courtesy of FOX)