"Enlisted" (Fox, Sundays). Kevin Biegel's sweet, old-school stateside service comedy, though already canceled, is not quite dead quite yet. Like a spirit suspended between two worlds, it returns to the air this week to conclude its unfinished business: the airing of four final unseen episodes, Sundays at 7 p.m. throughout June. (A better, more appropriate, time, perhaps, than its previous Friday slot; notwithstanding the odd poop joke, it's a family show -- by Fox standards, it's "The Sound of Music.") Some will note, possibly with a sense of satisfaction, that this event follows by days the announcement of network entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly's own departure. But it is safe to say that these things are unrelated, except perhaps in the sense that "Enlisted," which Reilly signed off on, was not a hit. (So salute him, really.)
I like "Enlisted," a well-written and consistently funny "Bad News Bears" comedy focusing on three brothers of different stripes serving together in a bottom-of-the-barrel Florida-based "rear deployment unit." ("Yes, we're soldiers" is its motto.) There's something bold in its embrace of classic comic verities and relationships: siblings growing closer, becoming better people, as they put scheming rivals and troublesome superiors temporarily in their place. (They're losers, but they're winners -- you know the drill.) It's sentimental without being mawkish, and not afraid to get a little weird, on the one hand, or a little serious, on the other. Though the series is worth watching just for Keith David's oddball-with-authority Sgt. Major, a kind of Zen master in camo, its cast is good from top to bottom and left to right. It's also just likable, and in serving military families -- if serving is not too deliberate a word -- it expresses our general impulse to honor the troops without celebrating war. (It honors them in part by treating their concerns with comedy, rather than melodrama.) This last bouquet of episodes will not amount to closure for fans, surely, nor for Biegel, who worked hard to keep the show going, with the usual social-media bulletins and hector-the-network campaigns, and whose expressed hope is that it finds a home elsewhere. But it's something! Live in the moment, people! All month!
The 25-year recording history required for induction means that even the youngest bands here have history, often complicated; but it also means that something of a long view may have been acquired, some wisdom earned, some regrets processed. It reminds you that, eventual superpopstardom notwithstanding, music-making almost always begins in a search for self-definition and survival, in making a place with like-minded souls. "Real bands," says
Springsteen's new songs may blur in comparison to his old, but he remains rock's greatest rhetorician, storyteller and comedian; his 16-minute induction speech is almost a novella, a picture of all you want to believe about what it means to be in a band, or any like team, without skirting the dark times. Inductees and inductors alike -- Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel,
"Halt and Catch Fire" (