Dr Ken: ABC Offering Gives Hope to New Sitcoms

JAMES URBANIAK, KEN JEONGTo be perfectly honest the ABC sitcom offering, Dr. Ken, did  not overwhelm with its pilot episode. The character, a Korean doctor with attitude and an abysmal bedside manner felt forced and awkward.  The family, the coworkers and Ken himself all seemed to be trying too hard to be funny. The pilot really felt like a miss for ABC in terms of sitcoms that just were not amusing enough to spend a half hour of time that would never be returned.

Granted there have been three new sitcoms released this year. One on ABC Family Kevin From Work which was so far from funny that calling it a situational comedy would be wrong. Dr. Ken gives the hope that not all sitcoms are unfunny time wasting exercises in forced humor.

Then episode two, The Seminar aired on October 9, Friday. The storyline, continued the doctor with no internal checking mechanism. Ken Jeong as the aggressive, antagonistic GP hit this stride in this episode, as did the rest of the cast. Jeong has reached the moment  in his show where one looks forward to a rant from the doc with attitude

The cast: Suzy Nakamura as Ken’s wife Allison, Krista Marie Yu and Albert Tsai as the couple’s children Molly and Dave all hit some impressive highs in this second episode. His colleagues:  Kate Simses as co-worker Julie, Tisha Campbell-Martin as Damona, Dave Foley as Pat all acquit themselves with conviction. Simses’ scene where she hugs herself was exquisite in its sincerity which made it that bit funnier.

The two Dr. Ken plot’s are similar, as they would be, he annoys patients who either self diagnose or ignore his prognosis. This week’s target  was a “samurai knot wearing” business owner who decides to stop taking her medication and, taking advice from Dave at Whole Foods, switches to fish oil.

Although this young lady does not lodge a complaint, it is Ken’s nurse, whose feelings are hurt when the doctor does not express support for his passing the RN exam who files a formal complaint about “his” doctor.  This gives Ken  a third strike and mandatory attendance to a bedside manner seminar is his punishment.  Meanwhile, his parents, whom he invited over, are eating dinner with his very reluctant family, sans Ken.

While the jokes come out pretty rapid-fire they were more relaxed in delivery this week and worked so much better because of it.  The humor, which runs from Ken turning everything into a sexual reference with his wife, to non-communicative in-laws and, of course, Ken  in attack mode was smoother and funnier.

Now that the forced feeling is gone and the pacing has steadied  the show provides more gags per minute with less intensity. The feeling that everyone was too desperate for the audience to laugh has also departed and the show is funnier and just a little addictive.

Dr. Ken has something for everyone. Ken Jeong feels a little like a real-life Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny, doing things most people would only dream of doing. His doctor is insulting, arrogant and hilariously aggressive, ready to switch to attack mode in a nano-second.  His family also fit  in with the doctor’s personality and lifestyle.

In the pilot, the best bit of the episode was Ken’s reaction to his son’s decision to be a mime.  In The Seminar, the entire thing worked brilliantly. The family learning that Ken’s family were not “the Korean Rushmore” and the doctor’s realization that his nurse was also his friend.

Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC, tune in and prepare to laugh now that the show has found its rhythm.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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