There are no words to describe the loss of Enlisted. But there are words to describe my anger at how this show never got a chance.
In a nutshell, Enlisted followed Pete Hill on his journey from super soldier in Afghanistan to the leader of a Rear Detachment platoon at an Army base in Florida. He went from dodging bullets to dodging his younger brothers, and guess what? It was hilarious. For starters, Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young played the three Hill brothers and gave us one of the most believable sibling dynamics on TV. Their chemistry and their realistic portrayal of family anchored the show, but that’s only the start of what made it great.
Enlisted took the quirky group dynamic of The Office and dressed it up in camouflage. The cast of characters was so diverse and so very, very weird that it just worked. Between Park, Robinson, Chubowski, and Gumble, I wanted to hang out with these people. I’ve seen the pilot at least four times at this point, and I still can’t get through Chubowski’s speech about Panda bears without cracking up:
I could continue praising this show and talking about things I’ll miss – such as Pete’s “female brother,” Sgt. Jill Perez, and the man I grew to love more with each episode, Keith David’s Sgt. Major Donald Cody – but the thing I really want to touch on is how mad I am at Fox for its handling of this show.
By putting Enlisted in a Friday night time slot, the show was climbing an uphill battle from day one. And then, to make things even more difficult, it started airing the episodes out of order. One week, Derrick would have a girlfriend. Two weeks later, he’d be meeting that same woman for the first time. Sure, it wasn’t the biggest deal considering the humor was the focal point of the show, but it did throw things off. Episodes are ordered for a reason.
And if that wasn’t enough, Fox didn’t even air all of the episodes. For the last few weeks before cancelling the show, the network chose to re-air episodes fans had already seen, basically begging for its ratings to drop further. Why are people going to tune in to watch something they’ve already seen?
To this day, viewers haven’t seen an episode I got the pleasure of watching in my office. There was a prank war on the base, Chubowski said “decolletage,” and the entire half-hour was a thing of hilarious beauty.
All this is to say that Enlisted never stood a chance, which is a shame, because it contained the makings of a really great comedy. It will forever be a show that I introduce to people, only to have them hate me when they realize it was cancelled after one season. So I’m sorry, Enlisted. You deserved better.
(And Fox, I better get all the episodes in my DVD box set … or else!)