Dr. Ken “A Day in the Life” may come the closest to mirroring star Ken Jeong’s real life than any other episode thus far. In it, art comes close to telling his true story, not the dissatisfaction that Dr. Park feels in the episode, but the feeling he has that comedy, aka performing, is his true calling.
The show has always been a thinly disguised version of Ken Jeong’s life. In real life, Ken has two children and a wife that is also a medical professional. Ken also worked as a stand-up comic, while attending college and he continued this as he pursued a career in acting.
Ken has said that the show is a fictionalized account of his life and his character of Ken Park could almost be seen as an alter-ego of the performer himself. This episode has an old pal from Community, Ken has worked a number of these folks into his show, Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays a documentary filmmaker who is filming a day in Welltopia.
Dr. Ken is chosen to be the doctor that she and her camera man shadow throughout the day. For Ken, whose birthday falls on the same day that the documentary follows him around, it feels as though everything is perfect.
Excited, full of good humor and many jokes; the doctor who wants to be a stand-up comic feels that all his birthdays have come at once. The show is ostensibly about Ken’s dilemma; worrying that he may well be unhappy with his “day job.” Dr. Ken is, however, an ensemble show. The episode also shows us a lot about the rest of the gang down at Welltopia.
Throughout the day, the camera crew of one, catches many personal and revealing moments at the Welltopia filming. Even the Park kids, who are invited to “stop by,” get a couple of “moments” on camera.
Apart from Ken having a “crisis of faith,” which then turns into an epiphany, brought about by a patient who stops breathing in the waiting room, we get a chance to see some touching, and interesting moments.
We learn that Clark is actually jealous of Allison’s presence at the clinic. His role of “job-wife” has been threatened. At one point, he tells Amy (Brown), somewhat gushingly, that he has baked Ken’s favorite birthday cake; carrot.
Later, Allison, the kids, Damona and Pat all bring in another cake to present to Ken. The camera catches Clark’s disappointment and his retreat with his cake.
Damona, on fine form as she attacks the magazine thieving patients in the waiting room, is actually upset about a text she found on Eric’s phone. She confronts him and he gets overly defensive. Damona cries on Pat’s shoulder.
We learn, somewhat unsurprisingly, that the chemistry between Damona and Pat is still potent and simmering just under the surface of the former lovers. Later, Pat tells Amy about the zucchini muffins that he used to bring in for Damona.
Towards the end of the episode, Pat brings one in for Damona. Just as he is about to present the muffin, Eric comes in and apologizes to his girlfriend. Damona excitedly gives Pat a “thumb’s up” and the hospital administrator smiles and returns the gesture.
The look Pat gives the documentary camera is one of misery and disappointment. It is all too revealing and ultimately very touching.
Dave proves to the documentary maker that he knows more about her business than she does. Molly shows that she still has what it takes to get the college of her choice and Allison really is one step away from the Tin Man in front of the camera. “Oil can…”
Just as revealing is Ken’s over-exuberance in front of the camera, and Amy’s confused reaction to it. As the episode progresses, Ken’s enthusiasm wanes. He begins to realize that as the “front-line” of medicine, his job is often boring.
By the end of the episode, we are given a montage of scenes with the entire group of characters. Clark is seen with Ken who has two pieces of cake, his family’s and Clark’s carrot cake. Other scenes give some sort of “closures” to the events accidentally caught on camera.
This episode of Dr. Ken deviates from the season two formula. It moves away from the familial theme, just a little, and concentrates on Ken’s “work family” and Ken himself.
Amid the humor on offer, “Can you validate my parking ticket” the episode gives us a momentary glimpse into what really makes Ken Park tick. Certainly the doctor wants to be a comic and entertain the masses but deep down, he realizes that saving lives, even via the mundanity of day to day medicine, is important.
The work of his team to bring the dead patient back to life reminds him that what he does at Welltopia is important after all.
“A Day in the Life” is another “Dicky Wexler” episode. It gave us a look at the heart of Ken Park. It also allowed the character to, at one point, realize that he does not like the unexciting aspects of his career.
Kudos to Yvette Nicole Brown for knocking this one out of the park. This comedic actress managed to do more with an expression than most performers can with their entire bodies. Those eyebrows and that look in those eyes spoke volumes.
Dr. Ken continues to be the best thing about Friday nights on television. As the series progresses we learn more about each of the characters and it makes them more endearing and real.
(On a sidenote: Connor has been missing over the last two episodes. After his proposal to Clark, the man has been on a hiatus. Hopefully he and Clark will be back together soon.)
Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in and bliss out at this funny, touching comedy.
- Ken Jeong – Ken
- Albert Tsai – Dave
- Suzy Nakamura – Allison Park
- Krista Marie Yu – Molly
- Tisha Campbell-Martin – Damona
- Jonathan Slavin – Clark
- Dave Foley – Pat
- Dana Lee as D.K.
- Jerry Minor – Eric
- Justin Chon – Jae
Guest starring Yvette Nicole Brown as Amy.