Dr. Ken this week may be the funniest, and most educational, episode yet. D.K. tells a Korean ghost story so terrifying that Dave and Ken both freak out. It is a gwishin formula to stop the youngest Park from growing up too soon.
It is Halloween and down at Welltopia everyone is dressed up except for Pat who is only interested in getting invited to any parties. After mentioning his availability, Allison tells Clark that Dave is growing up way too fast.
He has decided that 11 is too old to trick or treat on Halloween. Instead Dave will hand out candy to his classmates. Molly is rushing to find a costume for a last minute party change and D.K. suggests rolling in the garden and going as a “dirt person.” Molly is not impressed.
Allison tries to scare Dave but he is not having it. He says that the only things that frighten him are social security and the ripples from Brexit. D.K. offers to tell his grandson a Korean ghost story; a gwishin tale that he never told Ken because it is too scary.
Dave is up for the challenge and so is Ken.
In the story, Ken plays a young boy who decides he is now a grown up. He no longer needs his mum to walk him to the boy’s school by the haunted lake.
Allison plays his mum and reminds him not to stray from the path and to go straight to school. Ken recites the directions to the establishment, kisses his mother on the cheek and skips off to school.
Along the way he meets several traditional Korean ghosts (gwishin) they are all played by Damona, Pat, Molly, D.K. and Clark. (Sort of a The Wizard of Oz touch.)
Pat is a Chonggak Gwishin, a bachelor ghost who is eternally lonely. D.K. is the Korean grim reaper; Joseung Saja, Damona plays the Gumiho Gwishin (a ghost with several fox tails – foxes are spirit animals who are mischievous) and Molly is a Mul Gwishin; a water ghost with really long arms.
Clark plays another school boy that the Gumiho caught years before and he is now doomed to assist her forever.
As D.K. tells his ghost story, Molly comes down periodically to get reactions to her costume choices. The first is Ken’s wedding tux which gets vetoed by Ken.
The second is his old breakdancing outfit, which is vetoed by Molly as the backend has been split open.
Finally, at the bit of the story where the Mul Gwishin reaches for Ken, she comes down in a bathrobe with her hair dangling down in front of her face. Ken screams and runs out of the room.
Molly is pleased. “Creepy cat lady it is.”
D.K. reaches the climax of the tale (Ken loses his face) and a terrified Dave runs screaming upstairs to get a comforting hug from his mum, Allison. (Just like he used to.)
Ken crawls out from under the bed just enough to repeat “I ain’t ‘fraid of no gwishin.”
“D.K.’s Korean Ghost Story” was set up brilliantly. The banter at Welltopia allowed us to hear the backstory of Dave’s being scared by Allison so she could hug her boy. She misses this since he is in such a rush to grow up.
Molly coming down in that bathrobe with her hair down in her face. Anyone who watches J-Horror, or K-Horror recognized that longhaired ghost girl bit. Brilliant.
Dave screaming and running up the stairs. Albert Tsai sold that one, in spades.
The running commentary by Dave and Ken…”Why on earth would they build a boy’s school in this area?”
“Dirt person.” “Now I have 29 minutes.”
Ken’s picking on Allison, “Not dressing up this year.”
Allison and her witch’s cackle.
Damona’s warning cough.
Clark and that bobble on his Korean school hat.
Pat as the lonely bachelor gwishin.
Molly shuffling in the breakdance outfit.
“I ain’t ‘fraid of no gwishin.”
The foot in the well.
“How are you a doctor?”
“After these messages…”
This episode not only addressed that parental concern about kids rushing to grow up, a theme addressed last year between Ken and Molly, but it celebrated the Park family’s culture. (On Ken side’s at least, as Allison is Japanese. Perhaps next year?)
It was nice to see that Allison has the same issues about losing Dave. That touching moment where she silently thanks D.K. for scaring her boy right back into childhood was brilliant.
Mad props to Dana Lee who rocked it in this episode. His “crypt keeper” job was flawless. The entire cast knocked it out of the park in this episode. Both Albert Tsai and Ken Jeong were hysterically funny with their respective screams.
If it has not been pointed out yet, we just need to mention that in oh so many ways, Dave Foley is a comic genius. If you do not think so, look at his performance here. Brilliant.
Dr. Ken keeps the comedy coming in this season and this episode is, so far, a series high. This is one that shot right into “personal favorite” status as it combined belly laughs with Korean ghosts, aka gwishin.
This ensemble cast have hit their stride and everyone brings their own brand of comedy to the Dr. Ken table. May this family friendly comedy run on and on.
Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in and get your gwishin formula for Halloween.