‘Enlisted’ is Here

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Enlisted, Fox’s comedy about the Rear Detachment set at a (fictional) Florida Army base called Fort McGee, premieres this Friday at 9:30PM ET/PT (after Raising Hope). We offered the producers some unsolicited advice a few months back and now the show is finally making its debut after a delay from its planned November debut. If you’ve been watching football games on Fox for the last few weeks, you’ve seen the commercials.

Fox sent us the first four episodes, so we’ve got an idea of where they’re going with this and what changes they’ve made since they shot the pilot last spring.

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Creator Kevin Biegel previously worked on Scrubs and Cougar Town and he’s said up front that he had the first hour of Stripes “playing on repeat” while he and Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age) wrote the pilot. At its heart, the show is a workplace comedy and, at its best, has as little to do with the Army as The Office has to do with companies that actually sell office supplies.

When images from the pilot got out this past spring, folks from the hyper-sensitive wing of the military community (who obviously had never actually seen the show) howled about how Hollywood gets everything wrong and doesn’t respect the troops. The producers went out and hired some military consultants to help with the details and set out to make a series.

The network wasn’t going to reshoots the pilot, so they’ve decided to air the show with a  “Spot Our SNAFUs” contest. Viewers can write down all the mistakes and send them in to get a free Enlisted Challenge Coin. Thin-skinned readers they think a fake challenge coin is disrespectful can just go straight to the comments and blow their tops. (Fox will announce that address after the show airs: come back here and we’ll add it to this post.)

Then, just to show they were serious, the cast went to Boot Camp so they could better understand the issues faced by Rear Detachment troops. Fox made a seven-episode web series about the experience and webisode one is above.

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Enlisted revolves around three brothers: Sgt. Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) is a “super-soldier” who gets sent home from Afghanistan after punching a clueless commanding officer. He lands in a Rear Detachment at Fort McGee and is reunited by his younger brothers (Derrick) and Randy (Parker Young). They report to Command Sgt. Major Donald Cody (Keith David), who also happened to be a friend of their father before dad was killed in combat. Pete finds a nemesis/potential love interest in Sgt. Jill Perez (Angelique Cabral).

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Of course, the most important question about a TV show is always, “Is it funny?” Getting the details right in a movie a like Zero Dark Thirty was critical to the mission and the actors in Lone Survivor probably really did need the full boot camp experience to prepare for their intense roles.

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Sgt. Vince Carter says, “I’m not going to BOOT CAMP. I’m only PRETENDING to be a Marine.”

Enlisted works best when it’s goofiest. The dumber Randy acts, the funnier he is. Keith David (so memorable as “King” in Platoon) steals practically every scene he’s in. The smaller roles are filled by actors who probably wouldn’t meet the physical requirements to serve but they’re best when they’re providing a surreal counterpoint to Stults’ straight man.

The episodes don’t seem to be running in the order they were written or shot. “Randy Get Your Gun” (airing 1/17) and “Prank War” (airing 1/24) seem to take place after Pete Hill has come to terms with his fate and gotten used to his new surroundings. “Pete’s Airstream” (airing 2/14) seems to roll back to the character’s first days at Fort McGee.enlistedkeithdavid

So, Enlisted is pretty funny. It’s not as funny as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which leaves out the emotional connection stuff and just sticks to being a straight-up tribute to Barney Miller. It’s also not as smutty as all the Chuck Lorre comedies on CBS. If they concentrate on the goofiness (and do more with the West Point 2nd Lieutenant character who shows up to oversee Cody in “Prank War”), then we might just have a show worth watching over the long haul.

13 Comments on "‘Enlisted’ is Here"

  1. Sorry, I refuse to even watch the first episode after watching the preview. My husband is a 20-year enlisted soldier. This is not about “not taking yourself too seriously.” It makes enlisted soldiers look stupid and worthless. This is just outrageous and insulting.

  2. So, they’re making a group of mostly white guys out to be complete bumbling idiots and playing on every stereotype they can come up with in order to get a laugh. Sounds racist to me. Doesn’t matter though because I will never see an episode of this ridiculous show.

  3. To the folks who have panned the show without even watching it as disrespectful and/or demeaning: As if MASH, McKale’s Navy, JAG or any number of older shows were any better. I watched MASH and McKale’s navy and never confused it with reality, nor did it lower my opinion of enlisted (Radar), doctors (MASH) or the Navy (McKale’s). No, get over yourselves. Who says any class of people gets a pass from being poked fun at.

    Also, I have seen military folks do the dumbest things. I have seen such tomfoolery that outstrips (and out Stripes) anything any writer can come up with. Don’t want people to think Soldiers, or Sailors, or enlisteds, or milsos or whatever are stupid, act –and encourage your peers to act– with a bit of decorum.

  4. You all take yourself too seriously but in todays world where everyone gets offended over everything I’m not surprised. 20 years in service has nothing to do with why someone doesn’t like the show. I have been in 21 years and still serving and like what I’ve seen. I don’t mind poking fun at my organization.

    There have been dozens of TV shows poking fun at the military since TV came out and hundreds of movies.

    Lighten up. We’re in a serious business, a lethal business, and I don’t mind stepping outside of the seriousness of that from time to time.

    This show may end up a dud maybe now.

  5. For those who pick apart the uniforms on the show (which, I, too, am guilty of), you need to remember this… LEGALLY, there has to be AT LEAST one thing different on the uniform, than in real life…and this is for security purposes.

    This is so some dummy, who wants to pretend to be in the military, and thinks that copying the uniform off of a show or movie is going to make it easier in his efforts of stolen valor, will actually still have it wrong, and help the real SMs pick him out.

    There has only been one show that the military allowed to have the uniforms be exact and that was HBO’s Generation Kill in 2008.

  6. And from what I’ve been able to see/determine of this TV show — it’s absolute tripe. Worse even than Army Wives — if that’s possible. Even though this was meant to be a sit-com, the core of the shows indicates exactly what the unaware public seems to think of our force of warriors. Shows like this make me puke!

  7. Steve Miller | January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm |

    You’re kidding about taking this sitcom seriously and giving the people who produced this nonsense a break. Every veteran who watches this crap should protest as loud as possible. The cast went through boot camp? You mean the PR 3 day weekend version or the Paris Island weeks of hell version. If they had gone through a real boot camp and saw how people viewed themselves at graduation, the entire cast would have walked away.

    This is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever attended a military boot camp and felt the sense of personal accomplishment and team pride that follows. The producers could just have easily written a series with the reality of boot camp today, but this series shows a lack of respect for the military.

  8. military wife | January 10, 2014 at 10:13 pm |

    As an active duty military wife, attending a lot of organizations with my husbands unit, I have come to find that most soldiers are like everyone else, they poke fun, act stupid, and most are very immature and really don’t belong in the military. But with that being said, the offended here, are the ones who are seeing this as true, bc this new army is nothing like the “old army” .. This is supposed to be a funny tv show, you don’t see many cops getting upset over movies such as “the other guys”

    Or 21 jump street. In all technicalities it’s the same thing… But what do I know? I’m just a Milso.

  9. Mike Walker | January 11, 2014 at 6:56 am |

    The tone of the remarks here saddens me. When did the military become so soft and so quick to offend? With the relentless onslaught of our egg-shelled populace crying foul at even the mere perception that some inequity has unjustly befallen them, should not the military be a tad more stalwart? Should not the group of men and women who’s job it is to meet America’s enemies in every clime and place be just a little more dauntless in the face of a bit of sitcom ribbing? The military is not some irreproachable collection of apostolic do-gooders, so venerated in sacrifice and action that we are beyond the range of Hollywood’s gibes and lampoonery. Nor are we so tender and frail that we should take offense and “protest as loud as possible” anything that does not celebrate us absolutely. Take a breath. Stop acting as though service members have been slapped in the face and that we should all feel insulted and outraged. If this is your idea of supporting the troops, save your empathetic indignation for something more important.

  10. Rod Bankcam | January 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm |

    This show is disrespectful to all of us who serve. Sandy De camp — this show isn’t entertaining. Slap in the face. These actors and singers who disrespect us should be fined and be imprisoned esp Kanye West, Beyoncé and now these jokers.

  11. I still have yet to figure out the “name” of the series.

  12. Mike Walker | January 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm |

    That’s a great idea; let’s spend the capital that the military has gained with the public on imprisoning recusants who disrespect us. That will most assuredly foment the proper recognition of our character and values. While we’re at it, perhaps there are other liberties or freedoms we should discard because they happen to offend? Maybe we can just ditch that nettlesome Bill of Rights all together?

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