Dr. Ken: Ken and the Basketball Star – A Shot to the Heart (Review)

KEN JEONG

In keeping with a theme of mixing a bit of tragedy with the ensemble comedy on offer via Dr. Ken “Ken and the Basketball Star” steps up to the plate and hits a home run. (Yes we are aware that there has been a mixing of sport’s metaphors here.)  It was pointed out quite clearly in the first season that Ken is a huge basketball fan.

With last week’s emphasis on Ken’s job and the more serious moments hidden amongst the mundane, this episode looks at Dr. Ken having to break news to a patient that is more than a little life changing.  The fact that the patient is a teenager makes the diagnosis all the more upsetting.

The Story:

Molly is studying with high school basketball star Danny Willis. The kid comes into the Park kitchen and Ken is beside himself. He is so excited that he tells Dave off for embarrassing him in front of the star.

Later Molly calls Ken at work and asks if he can look at Danny’s ankle, he injured it at practice. Since this could keep the boy from playing in the big game, Ken says yes.

After the exam, Ken tells the delighted teen and his parents that playing in the big game will not be a problem. When Ken goes to shake Danny’s hand  he notices something and starts asking the athlete some questions.

Another exam takes place and this time the news is not good. Danny has marfan syndrome. The star athlete could literally drop dead on the court in the middle of a game. Willis’ parents are outraged at the diagnosis initially, until Ken reveals that the medical tests have proven him right.

Danny, quite wisely, opts out of playing basketball and instead plans to become a doctor.

The main storyline focused upon Ken’s love of the sport and his hero-worship of the athletes who make the game exciting. It also allowed us to see, again, that underneath the jokes and OTT behavior, Ken is still a doctor who cares.

While the Danny Willis story played out, there were other smaller plot threads in the show. One dealt with Allison’s bonding with Pat and, to a lesser degree, with Damona over a mutual love of good cappuccino.

This made for some splendid comic moments. Not just from the topic of conversation, Allison revealing some of Ken’s humorous moments at home, but also from Damona.

TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, SUZY NAKAMURA

Damona and Allison sneak into Pat’s office to drink cappuccino and the receptionist’s reaction when they are caught is brilliant.

The other storyline featured Connor who in this episode moves in with Clark. The newly engaged couple have some teething pains caused by both men being a bit set in their ways.

Of course Clark being Clark reacts with some OTT histrionics and Connor responds with a more grownup attitude. These two are, it seems, a perfect match and they are brilliant together.

Standout Moments:

The Ken wearing Dave’s pajamas story.

“You’re embarrassing me in front of Danny Willis.”

“Armageddon!”

Damona blaming Allison in Pat’s office.

“I stayed with Pat a whole extra month for that coffee…”

Dave and his face paint, along with cheering at inappropriate moments.

Ken leaping on the cheerleader’s bus.

Allison and Pat making up over cappuccinos.

Clark and Connor cuddling and the pillow.

Final thoughts:

D.K. has been missing for a couple of episodes and we miss him. While we may be sad that Dana Lee is not in every single episode, the show continues to deliver, almost flawlessly,  a perfect mix of humor with just a touch of the old lump inducing sentimental moments that make this series a special experience.

This year has seen the loss of a favorite character, Dr. Julie,  and the introduction of Eric and Connor. Dana Lee’s grandfatherly presence has been greatly increased and the remaining members of the cast are being allowed to widen their characters’  horizons.

Tisha Campbell-Martin, Suzy Nakamura (a personal favorite since that hysterical cameo in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Albert Tsai, Krista Marie Yu, Dave Foley and Jonathan Slavin continue to fill their characters with moments of truth.

They also manage to effortlessly work together as one of the best ensemble casts on television.  The comedy works each week and every single player gets “a moment.” Even in an episode like this one, where both Ken and his patient get a “shot to the heart,” the players all have a chance to shine.

Dr. Ken is still the best thing about Friday nights.  This series can make the most downbeat day end with a smile. Tune in and see what we mean.

DAVE FOLEY, SUZY NAKAMURA
Dave Foley and Suzy Nakamura and that espresso machine…

Cast:

Guest starring Zak Henri as Danny Willis.

Dr Ken: D K’s New Girlfriend – Bonding (Review)

DANA LEE, KEN JEONG

Dr. Ken this week sees the Park family and friends bonding in a different way.  “D.K.’s New Girlfriend” sees  Pat bonding with Dave, Allison bonding with Molly and Ken re-bonding with his father.  It also sees Clark and Damona bonding with new colleague Allison.

Love in the Afternoon:

Ken gets into an argument with his father when he and Allison return home to find D.K. having a spot of romance with his girlfriend Linda. Awkwardness ensues when the couple find D.K.’s clothes and his girlfriend’s bra in the front room. The lovers emerge from the downstairs guest room, much to the embarrassment of all. (Except Linda.)

Everything between Ken and his father becomes stressful when it emerges that D.K. overhears Allison complaining about his still living in the house. As Ken tries to explain about boundaries, D.K. gets angry and moves out of the Park house and into Linda’s apartment.

Allison and Molly try to enjoy a little mother / daughter special time at a local spa. Clark and Damona “spa crash” the establishment, much to Allison’s initial annoyance.

Dave, Pat and Ken attend a local jazz club. The music is definitely not Ken’s cup of tea and Pat agrees to stay with Dave to heard the rest of the jazz band’s set.  Pat gets “lucky” when single parent Megan zeros in on what she believes to be another single parent.

Pat lies and says that Dave is his adoptive son and the youngest Park kid agrees to go along. There is one proviso, however.  No more “burns.” The two try to pull the wool over Megan’s eyes but Pat blows it when he tries to persuade Dave to eat shrimp.

Megan gets upset when Pat ignores the fact that Dave is deathly allergic to shrimp and their ruse falls apart. Meanwhile, Allison learns that Molly is growing up and that, despite the annoyances of working at Welltopia, the family are grateful that they can see more of their mother.

Ken apologizes to D.K. and asks him to return the house. Ken’s father reveals that he is at a loss.  D.K. tells his son that he never imagined himself having to live with his son in his mid 70’s.

By the end of the episode, D.K. is back in the Park house and Dave reveals that he would welcome Ken to live with him.

Standout Moments:

D.K.’s “Bus-ted.”

Ken’s “hippy tea.”

Allison’s mammoth moan session with Molly.

Ken’s “lead on the bra” line.

Dave and Pat’s entire luncheon at the Jazz club and Megan.

Clark and Damona full stop.

Clark’s callous call.

D.K.’s “late life crisis explanation.”

Dave with his jazz sounds, a’la Pat.

Final Thoughts:

Dr. Ken continues to up the stakes in terms of storyline and cast performances.  Dana Lee provided a well delivered mix of comedy and pathos. Ken Jeong proved yet again that his comedy comes from the heart and that the Jonathan Slavin / Tisha Campbell-Martin double act can work anywhere.

Albert Tsai killed it this week in his scenes with Dave Foley (who always knocks it out of the park) and the ensemble worked like a well oiled comedic machine.

The second season has allowed for more tragedy tinged comedy over all. D.K.’s lament was enough to raise thicken the throat and cause those tear ducts to overflow just a little.

By putting an emphasis on the extended family, present and future, the show makes its comedy feel that little bit richer and truthful.  There is, in most families, a juxtaposition of roles as the unit ages.

Parent’s suddenly begin acting more like children and vice versa. This has been a theme in the series this year. D.K.’s New Girlfriend just changed the usual players to Ken and his father instead of the younger Park family members and their parents.

Dr. Ken continues to get the mix just right in terms of comedy with a side of seriousness. The message, dutifully delivered each week, is that family matters, regardless of age, location or temperament.

The series airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in and check out this family fun show.

Cast:

Guest starring Gillian Vikman as Megan and Cheryl Bricker as Linda.

Dr Ken: Child of Divorce – Like Father, Like Son (Review)

KEN JEONG, DANA LEE

Dr. Ken this week looks at divorce.  In keeping with this season’s focus on family, “Child of Divorce” (aka D.K.’s Divorce) looks at how we turn into children when faced with our own parents’ divorce.  D.K. reveals to Ken that his marriage ended two years ago and Ken is devastated.

The fact that his parents broke up after so many years of marriage bothers Ken and he worries that his relationship with Allison is in danger. Dave, proving that he is his father’s son, decides that his relationship with Emily is also doomed.

The episode begins with a slightly awkward “welcome meal” for Allison where she learns that Ken has been telling stories about their personal life. The awkward shifts into high gear when Pat spies D.K. with a young blonde in the restaurant.

As the group watch, D.K. and the blonde kiss and Ken is not happy. Later he confronts his father about the incident and D.K. reveals that not only have he and Ken’s mother gotten divorced, but Ken is literally the last person to know.

D.K. and Ken’s mother both believed the news would be too traumatic and that Ken would not be able to handle it.   After Ken assures D.K. that everything is fine, he goes into the kitchen ands screams silently. Allison, waits a beat and asks, “So how’d it go?”

Later she tells Dave and Molly about the breakup. Molly immediately asks how her father is taking the news and Dave worries.  Both kids know where their dad goes to cry.

Pat believes that D.K. has  mastered the dating scene and is determined to learn his secrets.  Ken panics and works overtime to “save” his marriage to Allison. He brings her lunch and then, after “overthinking the situation” takes the food away.

Molly treats her grandfather to a psychiatric session. She tells him that Ken is not handling the news well at all. D.K. shows up at Welltopia to see his son and gets hijacked by Pat. He takes Ken’s dad to buy him a beer and pick his brain.

DANA LEE, DAVE FOLEY
DANA LEE, DAVE FOLEY

Damona pranks Ken and he goes to the bar to talk with D.K.  After learning why his parents broke up, Ken tells his father about his worries. D.K. explains that Ken and Allison have a good marriage as they talk about things and have a chemistry.

The episode ends with Ken talking to his mother on Skype and learning that she has a new male friend. Cue more upset from Ken.

Standout Moments:

Ken’s silent scream and collapse in the kitchen.

Allison’s deadpan reaction to the silent scream.

D.K. telling Pat to talk less.

Molly’s practicing psychiatry. “I read ahead.”

Ken surprising Allison at work with flowers and takeaway only to leave with all the gifts seconds later.

Molly and D.K. and their counseling session. “Well, that’s our time…”

Dave and Emily in the kitchen playing monopoly. “Someone’s in a chatty mood.”

Damona’s “dead dad” prank that she plays on Ken.

Molly saving Dave and Emily’s “broken” relationship.

Dave clearly wanting his girlfriend to be less verbal; as in silent.

D.K. with his explanation of how he and Ken’s mother grew apart:

“She watch a lot of golf…I hate golf. Ball go up, ball come down.  I fall asleep. Woke up 30 years later and we have grown apart.”

Pat’s reaction to D.K. making him buy “Asian Doogie Howser” a beer. “Sexy, sexy man.”

Final Thoughts:

This episode was one of the funniest episodes this season. However, apart from the laughs and the divorce plunging Ken into instant childhood, the show revealed a number of things  about the Park family.

Dave is clearly just like Ken in some areas and Molly takes after Allison in others.  The kids have grown this season. Molly is less about the parties, boys and being popular and more about school and family.

D.K.’s pep talk where he helps Dave make friends in an earlier episode  may have helped but the youngest Park is also growing up. Although he still has to learn about letting girlfriends talk if he wants to keep one.

Ken’s relationship with Molly has also matured. He is less focused on losing his daughter.  With Allison now almost literally working down the hall he is more focused on his relationship with his wife.

This was a splendid direction for the show to take. There is just enough mischief at the “office” to keep things interesting and the addition of D.K. makes the Park family comedically complete.

Kudos to Dave Foley, Jonathan Slavin and Tisha Campbell-Martin. Slavin and Martin are the new Dr. Ken double act and Foley is truly hysterical as the single-minded Pat.

ALBERT TSAI, ZOOEY JEONG, KRISTA MARIE YU
ALBERT TSAI, ZOOEY JEONG, KRISTA MARIE YU

Albert Tsai and Krista Marie Yu are “Mary Poppins” kids; practically perfect in every way and have an effortless give and take.  Zooey Jeong is beyond perfect as Emily and the day she and Dave break up will be a sad one.

Ken and Suzy Nakamura continue to be “that” couple.  They are sharing the laughs evenly this season and the show’s familial comedy is stronger for it.

Dana Lee as D.K. nails it, each and every time he is on screen. He is the master of comedic gravitas.

Dr. Ken continues to be one of the best ensemble comedy shows on television. The series airs Fridays on ABC. Stop by and get ready to laugh…hard.

Cast:

Ken Jeong Exclusive Interview: Dr. Ken, Dicky Wexler and a Career High

KEN JEONG (WRITER/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

Ken Jeong took time out of his extremely busy day, Ken actually called me from the editing bay of Dr. Ken, and spoke with Mike’s Film Talk about his start in the entertainment business, Dr. Ken, and why Dicky Wexler’s Last Show is an episode he counts as a career high. We also spoke about his stint as stand-up comedian, his fellow cast members,  the show finale, Randall Park and Jamie Foxx.

Ken Jeong has amassed a gross of screen credits on both the small screen and the larger cinema screen. He got his start in 1997 on television but the real beginning was while attending pre-med courses at Duke University. He took an acting class where he caught the bug instantly. Ken realized that he loved acting.

So much so, in fact, that he auditioned for the acting school at Duke. He was accepted and then had to contemplate switching majors.

Ken: “So in reality my love for acting began over 25 years ago way before my career in medicine ever got started. I did continue with medicine and developed a passion for it. My wife is a doctor; she still practices, and it is a big part of my life. In a way, Dr. Ken is a culmination of areas of my life.”

After making the hard decision to keep studying medicine, Ken never got over the lure of performing and started doing stand-up comedy throughout his remaining educational time and while doing his medical residency.

It was, Ken says, a logical choice.

Ken found that his natural gift for comedic acting transferred well to the arena of stand-up and he won a contest where the prize was a “golden ticket” to perform at the world famous Improve Club in Los Angeles. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Before talking about Dr. Ken, and Ken’s favorite episode Dicky Wexler’s Last Show, we talked about his passion for performing.

Mike’s Film Talk (MFT): Looking at your bio and the various interviews you’ve done in the past, it looks like stand-up comedy is your first love.

Ken: Well…I’ve got to say that acting is my first love. Although going right back childhood, my first love was for academics and then acting, without any inkling of performing either ability, or even ambition.

MFT: Oh.

Ken: What happened was I really wanted to do theatre when I was in college. When I got fortunate enough to be accepted to medical school, I had to stop the acting school and finish what I’d started medically, or pre-medically. Then once I started in medical school I still had this desire to perform, but I had no idea what to do. So I thought, ‘why not give stand-up a try.’ Because I’d always excelled at ‘comedy’ acting and this is kind of a manifestation of that.

MFT: Right.

Ken: And Stand-up became like a great hobby. You could go to an “open mic” event once or twice a month and just let off some steam. I really viewed it as my hobby while in med school and during my residency and it was not anything I was trying to do professionally. But it just so happened I could do it well enough to do it professionally, and one thing led to another. Winning the contest to go to LA and perform at the Improv in Hollywood and that got my foot in the door in LA.

MFT: The move to stand-up makes a certain amount of sense. Once you have experienced the immediacy of feedback from a live theatre audience, nothing else really fulfills that experience, so the switch over to stand-up sounds like a brilliant replacement.

Ken: Oh yes, the immediacy of the audience feedback doing is hard to describe if you’ve never experienced. But, yes there is a high, a performance high, that get out of doing that. It is funny though, while I was doing it, I had opportunities to go on the road and open for high profile comedians but I opted not to.

MFT: Why not?

Ken: Well as much as I love stand-up, and a lot of my friends are in stand-up as well; I really love acting and wanted to do ‘proper’ acting. This is what prompted me to book a part in “Knocked Up” and later Hangover. I truly love acting more than stand-up but I really enjoyed my time while doing stand-up. There is a lot of grey involved there, it’s not black or white situation as in “Oh I like this, I don’t like this.”

MFT: I know looking at the bio it seemed that comedy had been your starting point, like Steve Martin or Robin Williams, and that you’d gravitated over to acting but actually the reverse is true.

Ken: Yeah the reverse is true. It was more like theatre acting, stand-up and then acting. But to your point; like in the Dicky Wexler episode, there is an affinity for stand-up comedy with my character and that will culminate in the season finale where stand-up will be involved.

MFT: Oh brilliant!

Ken: Oh yeah, it goes there. And it will be a point where Ken will try his hand at stand-up comedy. There is a lot of “art imitating life” so I’m glad you feel that way after reading my filmography and credits and also following the show because what you said…although in my “exact” life I had a more nuanced experience than that, but in the universe of the show, Ken’s love for stand-up is real and genuine.

And I don’t think it’s coincidence that in an episode like “Kevin O’Connell” that he was doing stand-up for the HMO banquet…Which is also based on a true story. At the physicians HMO banquet every year I would do stand up comedy and that pertained to that.

MFT: Oh that’s brilliant! I was going to mention that early on in the series, in one of my reviews, I called Dr. Ken “the Woody Woodpecker” of medicine in that he said and did things no one else would dare to and was quite unapologetic about it. He was Ken Park, doctor, and he was going to do things his way.

Ken: Exactly. He doesn’t have  a filter he’s not sensitive or self aware and  I think that’s the big difference in our characters. In the life of Dr. Ken, he overreacts but has no self awareness, but in real life I overreact but I’m painfully self-aware. I’m a very sensitive guy and I really do care what other people think.

MFT: Which is all part of being an actor…

Ken: Yeah, that is part and parcel of being an actor, absolutely.

MFT: I was going to ask, just for a laugh, who you’d rather go to..obviously you wouldn’t want to go to Dr. Park.

Ken: Yeah, that’s because as a physician, in real life as a doctor I tried not to be funny with my patients. I never really liked doing that. It is funny that when people meet me they are very surprised at how low-key I am and how seriously I took medicine. That was what I wanted to do growing up so I  took that seriously. 

MFT: Yes.

Ken: I’ve said in interviews before that I never jerked around patients like Patch Adams. I never went around saying, “Aw you got herpes, but I got your nose! Honk! Honk!” 

MFT: (Laughing) Which would probably result in a lawsuit these days.

Ken: (laughs)

MFT: I’ve watched “Dicky Wexler’s Last Show” twice now. Now I have to say, my two favorite episodes so far have been “Ken at the Concert” and “Dicky’s Last Show” and both for the same reason. They each made me laugh and cry a little. Now I’m a soppy old git and I’ve cried at Scooby Doo before…

Ken: (laughing)

MFT: And the odd commercial. But these episodes  each contained the perfect blend of comedy and that little touch of pathos, or poignancy. In the concert episode, Ken is trying so hard do connect with his little girl who’s outgrowing his sphere of fatherly influence and at the concert he realizes,  in the parent lounge,  that the other parents have given up and Ken decides he’s going to “rescue” his relationship with Molly.

Dr Ken: Ken at the Concert – Ken, Molly and Emblem3 (Review)

Dr Ken: Ken at the Concert was a splendid mix of comedy with a touch of “lump in the throat” poignancy. Every parent longs to connect with their teenage offspring.

EMBLEM3, KEN JEONG

Dr Ken: Ken at the Concert was a splendid mix of comedy with a touch of “lump in the throat” poignancy.  Every parent longs to connect with their teenage offspring.  Ken’s attempt to remain relevant in his daughter’s life, and still be the “dada” by grabbing the Emblem3 concert tickets for Molly (Krista Marie Yu) and her friends results in Jeong knocking it out of the park (no pun intended…) with a hilarious wine-fueled vow of “heart” for his teenage daughter.

The entire storyline is a reversal of parenthood and child raising.  There is a variation on the “baby-viewing” rooms in the cinema where parents with crying and noisy (that’s spelt embarrassing and annoying to both the parents of said child and the other cinema patrons) can sit to watch the film and not stress out the other audience members:

This variation is called the parent lounge.

At the concert, an embarrassed Molly sends Ken away from her,  and the bestie’s who have been invited to the concert,  before he leaves Molly gives Ken, “the list.” Two mother’s see Ken’s predicament and explain that they know his pain.

Ken is taken to the parent lounge.  There the exiled inhabitants imbibe wine and gouda cheese. Ken is a hit with his fellow denizens and as he and the mother’s who share his misery get deeper into the wine, Dr. Park learns that these are parents who have given up on their teenagers.

 JACKIE JOYNER, KEN JEONG, DANIELLE BISUTTI, JILL E. ALEXANDER
Ken’s captive, and intoxicated audience in the Parent Lounge

Grabbing a gouda to go, Ken heads back down to Molly and her friends. He tries to express his feelings and is shut down by his embarrassed teen. After sitting down, Ken notices a fan jump on the stage and the upset father gets an idea.

Ken rushes on stage and declares that while Molly is no longer his “little girl” she will always be his daughter. Molly cringes at this PDA until she realizes her friends are impressed by Dr. Park’s little speech. Ken is then tackled by the band’s onstage security guard.

Dr. Ken; Ken at the Concert goes back to the storyline of “Pamona” just in time to see them break up. The Pat and Damona breakup takes place at Welltopia where Dave shows up with Allison after stepping on a rusty nail at the birthday party.

“It wouldn’t have gone through my shoe if you’d let me wear the wedges.”

The lion’s share of the episode dealt with Molly and Ken.  A truly funny look at a father devoted to his teenage daughter a’la “Super Dad” but with that Ken Jeong touch.  But, as is natural for this show, other players managed to shine comically as well.

Dave’s invitation to a birthday party:

“Legit or class invitation? It doesn’t matter let’s just savor the victory.”

The whole “tetanus” injection scenario:

Dr. Julie Dobbs: “I’m great with kids…I used to be one.”

Allison Park: (no reaction)

Later when Dave is locked in the exam room:

Clark: “I’m great with kids, I used to be one.”

Allison: (gales of laughter): “It must be the way he says it…”

Clark telling Julie and Damona how to get out of a relationship:

“Tell him that your grandmother has died and that you are the chief suspect.”

Later Damona has trouble trying to explain to Pat that she wants to break up, he is not getting her message, and she blurts out the “grandmother” line in desperation. Pat’s reaction is to invite her to a romantic getaway at a B&B.

Dave freaks out at the idea of the injection and after he escapes from the exam room, he finds refuge in Pat’s office. Before that Juan-Julio gets another moment in this episode:

“He’s in the vents. We’ll have to smoke him out.”

As Dave sits in Pat’s office he starts to explain his dilemma of the tetanus shot.  Cue one brilliant “Up” reference:

Pat: “All right. You’ve got my attention Park…Whup! But you lost it…Pigeon…”

Standout Moments:

Were many, but there were a few that really made their mark –

Juan_Julio’s creepy smile after the “smoke him out” line.

Ken’s drunken singing to Molly and then his on stage appearance.

Juan-Julio, again, “Until the men in the suits took him sailing.”

Pat’s desperate: “My grandmother’s dead and I’m the chief suspect!”

Kate Simses proving yet again that she is Queen of comedic timing with her stricken, yet accusatory, look when Allison laughs at Clark saying “the kid” line.

Damona, again, “Well I’m waiting for the D.A. to call me about my grandmother, but I guess I got a minute…”

KEN JEONG, KRISTA MARIE YU, MEGAN MCGOWN, MELISSA CHRISTINE, CASSIDY MACK
YOLO..Yo.

Ken: YOLO, LOL, OMG, et al.

Final Verdict:

Dr. Ken: Ken at the Concert was a brilliant look at the chasm that is created when our kids “out-grow” us. Krista Marie Yu killed it as the embarrassed, initially, teen who “hearts” her dad right back by the end of the episode.  Ken Jeong also kills it as the dad who desperately still wants to be part of his little girl’s life.  Albert Tsai, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Dave Foley and Marques Ray all rocked this week.

Emblem3, aka E3 (which feels a little like a blatant rip off of the gaming conference, just saying…) had little time to perform but this appearance must have provided a great chance to celebrate their getting back together. While not a fan (I’ve only just learned of their existence.) it is easy to see why the characters on the show were such fans.

Dr Ken airs Fridays on ABC, tune in quick as there are only five episodes left in season one.