Dr Ken has been rocking its comedy since the series hit screens on ABC and Dicky Wexler’s Last Show is no exception to all previous episodes. Except…This poignant, yet funny, storyline has laughs, tears and a touch of genius. The genius part comes in with the inclusion of a favorite patient who has a terminal disease and the effect it has on Ken.
Guest star George Wyner kills it as Dicky Wexler, an old-time Friars Club comedian who has cancer and a performer that Ken has adored since childhood.
“I did one of his routines word-for-word for my fourth grade talent show…It did not go real well, but in my defense I didn’t know he didn’t go motor boating with Charo, brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrb”
Dicky is a Don Rickles/Joan Rivers type of comic. Slightly insulting humor that is good natured in delivery and never too nasty. Although some of Wexler’s humor irks at least one person at Welltopia,
Pat: “Damona! Is the old man gone, I’m having a puffy day and don’t feel I can endure any more of his barbs”
The plot threads this week are many. Clark’s vegan lunch, Molly has a cavity (while Dave’s teeth are perfect and Allison bumps into an old patient who left therapy and lied about it. Later at dinner, Allison vents and a phone call brings the show back to Dicky’s story.
At the start of the episode Wexler is introduced by Clark and Dr. Ken is beside himself with excitement. Dicky enters and delivers a run of one-liners each targeted to fit the members of Welltopia who know him. He then spots Dr. Julie and proposes that she have a name change to Wife Number Five.
After poking fun at Pat, as Ken hustles his hero into the examination room, it is revealed that Wexler has Myeloma and has had for several years. Dicky has named his cancer “Charlene” after his ex wife:
“They’re each about as much fun and have had similar effects on me.”
What Ken’s favorite patient wants is clearance to perform at the Friars Club. The club is nervous about “Charlene” and Dicky wants to go on. Ken caves in and gives Wexler the note. After the comic leaves Julie questions the wisdom of allowing Dicky to go on.
Ken responds that he has been the comic’s doctor for years:
Ken: “I was treating Dicky since you were a little girl doing pretend vaccinations on your dolls.”
Julie: “I told you that in confidence!”
Clark talks the staff into having a vegan lunch since the cafeteria will be closed and although Pat initially reacted negatively, “sorry I had lawn trimmings for breakfast this morning” he agrees when Damona points out that Jared Leto is vegan.
Later, when Allison is angrily talking about her old patient, Ken gets a call. Dicky has collapsed. Ken rushes to the hospital and Dicky talks the doctor into letting him go onstage. Dr. Ken agrees to allow it. Dicky is pleased and tells Ken, as he leaves:
“I’ll see ya when I see ya.”
Back at the Park house, Dave is overindulging in sugar, eating multiple bowls of blue cereal and the night before taking a bag of snickers to his room. Allison warns her son and he declares he has “enamel for days, son!”
The vegan food arrives and Clark excitedly passes around everyone’s order. Pat sniffs the meatless hamburger in front of him and reaffirms that there is no meat in the burger. “None at all, confirms Clark, prompting Pat to sweep the burger, container and all into the bin.
Damona declares her kale ravioli delicious.
While Ken sets up the ambulance for Dicky, Julie once again questions the wisdom of letting Wexler go. After asking how he should tell his comedy idol. Dr. Julie tells him honesty is the best policy.
Julie has vegan chili and Pat declares that is smells like “Satan’s diaper.” Julie retorts that usually honesty is the best policy. Ken then tells Dicky who responds angrily and orders his doctor out of the room.
Clark discovers Damona’s lunch in the rubbish bin and angrily confronts her. She explains that it tasted nasty and she did not want to tell Clark as he tends to overreact. Clark clutches his chest and falls backward to the floor.
After a family meal where there are at least two epiphanies inspired by something someone else has said, Ken and Allison rush from the kitchen. When Molly remarks on the oddness of people getting sudden realizations based on what other people are saying, Dave jumps up, slaps the table and says “Based on! That’s it!” Molly asks what “it” is and her brother replies it is nothing, he just wanted to be included.
At Welltopia, Clark who is still upset about the kale lunch gets rumbled when Juan-Julio comes in to repay Clark for giving him his lunch the day before. He has to admit that he did not like the food either. He and Damona make up. Clark tries the burrito and it is vile. Juan-Julio explains it is payback for the nasty lunch Clark gave him.
Allison goes back to the clinic where she bumped into her old patient. After a brief, funny, clearing of the air, Allison realizes she can more forward. However, she does have to go into a lactating clinic where she said she had an appointment.
Back at Welltopia, Ken has arranged for Dicky to give his last performance from this hospital bed. Wexler is on fire as he gives his last show. It is a touching moment, but not as touching as the last scene: the tag.
Ken is listening to the CD of Dicky’s act, brought in at the start of the episode, holding a glass of whiskey as he laughs to favorite old jokes. He raises the glass and toasts the absent Dicky with his idol’s catchphrase “See ya when I see ya pal.”
This episode is Ken Jeong magic, although the entire cast go over and beyond the call of comic duty, with touch of pathos here and there.
George Wyner for that “old-school” comic performance, one that brought back memories of Berle, Youngman and even, to a degree, Rodney Dangerfield.
Jonathan Slavin for that “fall” (Honestly laugh worthy no matter how many times one watches it.)
Suzy Nakamura for her ire fueled rant at the appointment where she confronts her former patient. Just brilliant.
Kate Simses’ “Confidence” shout which worked brilliantly with her sage advice to Ken.
Tisha Campbell Martin who, as usual, makes performing comedic acting look easy as falling off a log, as does her onscreen paramour, Pat, aka Dave Foley.
Dave Foley with his delivery of the descriptions of vegan offerings ,each showing his character’s sheer distaste of all “lawn trimmings, mulch and cave scraping’s”.
Albert Tsai and Krista Marie Yu with their double act after the dentist and later when “Dave” goes on a sugar diet.
Marques Ray for “that” look.
And finally Ken Jeong himself for making the reviewer laugh throughout the show and then cry at the end of the episode. That one single tear while listening to Dicky’s recording just killed it.
Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune into this series and see why it is the best scripted comedy on TV.