Last night Fox debuted it's not-bad Christopher Meloni comedy Surviving Jack, while tonight it airs the last episode of Enlisted before pulling it from the schedule. It's going to be a tough road ahead for both of these shows.
Surviving Jack—from Justin Halpern of Bleep My Dad Says—looked fairly disastrous when Fox debuted bits of it at its upfront last year. But what aired last night wasn't as horrible as it might have once seemed. That's thanks in part to the addition of the oft under-used Rachael Harris, who took over as family matriarch for Alex Kapp Horner, and an entertaining performance from Christopher Meloni as the titular character, a doctor with a scared-straight approach to parenting. Meloni—who, thanks to his stints on Oz and SVU, has been branded a dramatic actor—shows off some of the gonzo comedic energy he had on display in Wet Hot American Summer. But Meloni also has a surprising amount of heart in Jack, acting at times like a guy you might want to be around sometimes.
The network, however, doesn't seem to be quite so enamored with Jack. Though it did grant it a post-American Idol spot, it cut its order down to eight episodes from 13. That spot served it well enough in its first outing. Surviving Jack retained 70 percent of Idol's viewership, scoring 5.1 million viewers, but still only garnered a 1.3 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. In his review of Surviving Jack for The Hollywood Reporter Tim Goodman noted both that "there's still something worrisome about a series premiering in very late March" and that Fox is getting a reputation for being "erratic" in their comedy judgment.
That brings us to Enlisted, which is airing it's final episode tonight before being yanked from the schedule for Kitchen Nightmares. Enlisted has always been a critical darling that didn't have much chance at survival. The network scheduled it on Friday, a time slot that usually spells doom. And so it has despite passionate advocacy on the part of both TV writers and fans within the military. At Flavorwire, Pilot Viruet wrote: "Enlisted is shaping up to be one of those golden programs that Fox won’t know it has until it’s gone." The Army Times wrote an editorial asking Fox to save the show. Creator Kevin Biegel insists that the last episodes of the season will air, it's just a matter of when.
Tonight's episode is already up in full on Hulu. It's not one of Enlisted's best episodes—those have been episodes like "Vets" where the show has managed to mix zany antics with huge helpings of heart. In fact, "Paint Cart 5000 vs. the Mondo Spider" ends in one long poop joke. It's a funny poop joke, but it's a poop joke.
Still, both Enlisted and Surviving Jack deserve a chance to grow and develop. Surviving Jack may get that shot, but it looks like it'll be the only one.