Enlisted," which premieres Friday on Fox, is an oddly quaint show, a stateside service comedy, if not quite a peacetime one.
Created by Kevin Biegel ("Cougar Town"), its theatrical antecedents are boot-camp films such as Bob Hope's "Caught in the Draft," Abbott and Costello's "Buck Privates," Martin and Lewis' "Jumping Jacks" — like each of those films, its pilot climaxes with a war games sequence — and, jumping a few decades forward, Bill Murray's "Stripes."
On television, it hearkens back to "The Phil Silvers Show" and "McHale's Navy," military comedies whose heroes do things not at all by the book. The very American, not quite paradoxical idea that motivates these movies and shows is that we are better when we work together as a team, especially for some larger good, and also when we make our own rules. They espouse a kind of reverent irreverence, a sentimental iconoclasm.
"The Bad News Bears" figures in here too. (Ragtag band of misfits finds strength in weirdness.) As it so often does.
Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) is a "supersoldier," a Sgt. Fury of Afghanistan until he punches an inferior superior officer and finds himself shipped home, assigned to a Rear Detachment Unit in Florida, alongside brothers Randy (Parker Young), ardent and incompetent, and Derrick (Chris Lowell), cynical and capable and in the Army apparently through inertia.
Their late father was a soldier, so it is a sort of family business.
Brothers aside, Pete would rather be back under fire than leading troops whose job it is to "wash tanks and mow lawns." His first assignment is to locate a lost dog, which he puts off, though he will learn, of course, the value of a lost dog found.
Meanwhile, he is challenged from above by a wise-owl commanding officer (Keith David, both grand and funny) and laterally by fellow Staff Sgt. Jill Perez (Angelique Cabral); we understand, more than they do, that their constant competition is a form of flirting.
Though it allows itself the odd double-entendre, for which the speaker will usually express regret, this is as family friendly a show as you will find on the Fox network, soft and romantic at its core, in love with brotherliness. A family comedy and a workplace comedy, it could as easily have been set in a summer camp or a ballclub. But the (essentially apolitical) military theme works well, as it pays due respect to those who only wash and mow.
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday
Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun