THE SHOW "Enlisted"
WHEN | WHERE Friday at 9:30 p.m. on Fox/5
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Pete Hill (Geoff Stults), a soldier with a short fuse, punched his commanding officer in the field in Afghanistan, and as punishment, is sent to Fort McGee, a Florida base for losers in fatigues -- or, more kindly, for soldiers not quite ready for the real Army. There he re-connects with his brothers, Derrick (Chris Lowell) and Randy (Parker Young), and makes some new friends in the process -- including Jill Perez (Angelique Cabral) and base commander Donald Cody (Keith David). The lads must prepare for a war games exercise while searching for a dog that has gone missing.
MY SAY There's not a mean bone in "Enlisted's" sitcom-y body. Instead, it has other bones. In no particular order, those would be: Sentimental, funny, absurd, ridiculous, dumb, smart, silly, romantic, and there's even (unexpectedly) a patriotic bone or two. Yes, this is quite a collection of bones, but to flesh it all out is an excellent cast whose members seem to keenly appreciate the strange predicament they find themselves in -- a good new Fox comedy that will be watched by dozens of viewers on Friday.
Fox comedies -- which are usually good, though not uniformly ("Dads") -- tend to take left turns when most viewers seem to prefer ones that take hard rights -- into family sitcoms ("The Middle") or raunchy anti-family ones ("Two and a Half Men" or "2 Broke Girls"). Fox gets the decent reviews (again, "Dads" excepted) but no viewers.
Despite the Siberian real estate on Fridays, "Enlisted" seems determined to avoid that fate, partly by pulling its DNA from an old, comfortable and largely forgotten form of television -- the (non-"M*A*S*H") military farce, not seen much since the '60s ("Hogan's Heroes," "The Wackiest Ship in the Army," "McHale's Navy"). TV pros like Stults and (especially) David know the beats of the classic form by heart -- with an emphasis on the farcical beat -- while Cabral, Lowell and Young bring on the energy and youthful vitality. The combination's a winner.
BOTTOM LINE Good newcomer that gets even better in the weeks ahead.