Spring 2014 Review: Enlisted

17 Feb

Enlisted

Geoff Stultz, best known to me from his turn as Kate’s boyfriend in the short-lived but delightful Ben & Kate (how was that cancelled only last year? TV time flies), stars as Pete Hill, the eldest brother in a military family. Pete’s dad was in the military and steered his kids towards it, but only Pete was really suited. His younger brothers are Derrick, a cynical slacker who doesn’t care about his job (Chris Lowell, Piz from Veronica Mars), and Randy, an over enthusiastic youngest brother who cares but is a bit short from a mental fortitude standpoint (Parker Young, Ryan Shay from Suburgatory).

The three are reunited when Pete, a super competent soldier, who had been serving abroad in the heart of battle in Afghanistan with special forces, screws up and gets demoted. He’s forced to return to a base in Florida, in charge of soldiers whose job is to take care of the base while most of the other soldiers are serving overseas. Pete loves his brothers, but he can’t help feeling demoralized by having to work on the base doing what he sees as pointless support work, while he could be super soldiering in the middle east. He and his brothers naturally argue about this from the get go; while Randy, the dumb brother, is just glad to have him home, Derrick understandably takes a little bit of offense at Pete’s superior attitude. Pete, meanwhile, is somewhat understandably disdainful of Derrick’s lack of caring about well anything. Anyway, this is already getting more complicated than necessary for a comedy premise so I’ll speed it up.

Basically, after some talks with the head of the base, an old friend of the boys’ late father, Donald (played by Keith David) Pete is motivated again to try to make the best of a bad situation and to inspire the base’s outcasts, and most importantly, his brothers to be the best they can be.

Enlisted hangs out in that cute-but-not-so-funny-its-a-must-watch comedy tier along with Trophy Wife and Suburgtaory It’s cute, it’s positive, it has the right idea but it never quite takes off or made me laugh out loud. There are a bunch of silly, maybe a bit too ridiculous (but maybe not) outcast soldiers Pete has to get to work together, and they’re played mostly for laughs, which sometimes works. There’s also an obviously love interest for Pete, Jill, a rival high achiever who doesn’t have Pete’s superior attitude about being too good for the camp.  Still, at the heart, the show is about the three brothers. As the oldest of three brothers, I always have a soft spot for shows about brothers, and aside from the youngest brother being a certifiable idiot, the brother relationship rings true.

It’s not hilarious, but there’s something here. I’m not sure I’m convinced it’s a winner straight out; It’ll have to do more to convince me yet with the incredibly crowded TV schedule and tons of TV catch up I need to work on all the time. Still, it’s better than 85% of the comedies out there, and there’s a lot to be said for that. It’s oriented in the right direction even when the jokes don’t hit. The premise is sound, but the screws need to be tightened a bit.

Will I watch it again? Not regularly. If it survives it could be a candidate for a show I put on as I’m going to sleep, and that sounds like an insult but it’s really not – bad television when I’m going to sleep just makes me angry and gives me bad dreams, so. And from there, it’s just one more step to regular viewership. Get to work, Enlisted, You can do it.

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