Dr Ken: Ken’s Big Audition – Cameo Cornucopia for Season End (Review)

DAN HARMON

The season finale of Dr. Ken “Ken’s Big Audition” offers up some great cameos, some life changing events and a lot of laughs. As we said in our preview of this episode (which was a tad secretive, we admit) there “is a positive cornucopia of performers from Ken Jeong’s career and there are a few surprise cameo’s thrown in for good measure.” At the time of publication, there was a slight problem with revealing too much of who would be appearing on the last episode of season two.

Now, however, we can gleefully point out the blink and you’ll miss him cameos of not just Seth Rogen but his producing partner Evan Goldburg. We can also sing the praises of the oh so beautiful (and wildly talented) Alison Brie, Nia Vardalos – who pops up at the very end as Pat’s wife who suddenly wants to reunite with her ex.

“Ken’s Big Audition” spells change and leaves the audience with a bit of a cliffhanger. (Will John Cho take the call?) Ken’s life changes when he gets a call from Dan Harmon. Harmon wants Ken to audition for a new television pilot and the wannabe performer is over the moon.

Before that bit of excitement, Molly reveals that she has gotten into Stanford.  (This was a brilliant bit of comedy. The eldest Park child bursts into the kitchen announcing that “I got in!” D.K. responds “Congratulations! You can use a swinging door.”)

Dana Lee
Congratulations…

Dana Lee managed, once again, to bring some brilliant bits to this packed episode. His short, and loudly delivered, line about not using stereotypical accents was perfectly timed and very funny. Kudos to the actor and the writers for that one.

While Allison has to deal with her first born moving away from home, Dave and D.K. both vying for Molly’s room and Ken’s new change of fortune, Pat and Damona almost take their new relationship to the next level; matrimony. Clark talks Pat into possibly popping the question and he seriously considers it.

The episode itself, however, belongs to Ken Jeong and his cast of many cameos. (See what we did there?) Some of the highlights included Ken enlisting Damona and Clark to help him learn his lines for the audition. Later, when he meets with Alison Brie to read with her, she apes Clark’s “baby voiced” deliver of “I have a tummy ache.”

Dr. Ken reacts just as badly to Brie’s interpretation of the line as he did when Clark did it. Ken’s over the top audition leaves him feeling very uncertain and ready to turn his back on the whole thing. As he calls Allison to complain about Hollywood and to grumble about the business, Rogen and Goldberg appear just long enough to Seth to insult the depressed doctor.

Ken’s distress is uncalled for though as Harmon actually casts the doctor as a Spanish teacher with an attitude (a riff on a character Jeong played in Community.) and it looks like Dr. Ken’s new career is off and running.

KRISTA MARIE YU, SUZY NAKAMURA
Molly and Allison share a touching moment.

At the end of the episode Ken looks to be dangerously close to being replaced by John Cho because he cannot stop laughing at Alison Brie and spoiling take after take.  Molly and Alison become even closer with their upcoming separation and Pat gets the surprise of his life when Tiffany turns up to ask for another chance.

There are a number of obvious funny moments in the show. There are also  some bits that one has to look at closely to find the humor. For instance: Just before Ken bumps into Seth and Evan, he is on a stereotypical Hollywood “lot.”

There are actors, makeup artists and so on scattered throughout the scene. What almost slips past the viewer are the external sets themselves. Each building facade is “Ken” sized. Just as funny is Ken’s “mark” (where the actor must stand in order to be in the shot). It is clearly visible and it is a big yellow square; a clear indication that Ken Park is afraid that he has blown his big chance.

KEN JEONG
Ken Jeong

Ken’s concerns are groundless though as Harmon, who apparently likes to punish his fans, hires Ken even though the audition was horrendous. Ken gets the part and then spends his first shooting day blowing the scene because he cannot stop corpsing at Brie’s character.

The kicker of the episode though is Tiffany returning to get Pat back into her life. This leaves things hanging with his new relationship with Damona and we wonder if he loves her enough to turn Tiffany down.

A lot of things could be different in a third season of Dr. Ken. Molly could well be absent (and we would be heartbroken if this were the case as Krista Marie Yu is a personal favorite) Pat and Damona could break up and last but not least, Ken could leave Welltopia all together.

While there would still be room for the delightful brand of comedy that Dr. Ken brings to the table each Friday night, it would be…different.

Questions and musings about season three aside, this was a brilliant end to the season. Dave getting one up on D.K. and Pat’s dilemma were all part and parcel of the overall storyline and that familiar feel of comedy done just right.

If you have not seen the season two finale, catch it later via Hulu or On Demand. Tune in and see why this is a topnotch comedy offering from Ken Jeong and his brilliant ensemble cast. Or stop by to catch the always watchable Alison Brie…

DAN HARMON, ALISON BRIE

Cast:

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 – D.K.
Justin Chon – Jae
Stephen Guarino – Connor

Guest starring Dan Harmon, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Alison Brie and Nia Vardalos

 

Dr Ken: Ken’s Big Audition – Season Two Finale Fun (Preview)

TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, JONATHAN SLAVIN, KEN JEONG

The clue is in the title of this season finale of Dr. Ken. It appears that Ken Park’s dream to perform may just become a reality. He has a big audition (there is that hint in the title after all) that may just become a game changer.

“Ken’s Big Audition” is the perfect ending for the show’s second season.  There are a bevy of special guest stars in the final episode. Dan Harmon (creator, and rumored sourpuss, of Community) and there are a few “in-jokes” as well as some other special guests from Ken’s past (and present) who appear.

Another theme, one which has been prevalent throughout season two, is “change.”  As evidenced in the most recent episodes (Clark’s Big Surprise and Ken and the CEO) romantically, at least, things have changed dramatically for some of the characters.

Pat and Damona are now a couple and Clark just tied the knot with Connor. Prior to that, Molly and Jae went through their first, and second, argument, and are now a couple who seem to know what they want. (On a sidenote, Jae has moved into the background for the time being.)

The season finale of Dr. Ken keeps the comedy factor high as several things happen almost at once. As the title implies, Dr. Ken gets an audition, based upon someone seeing his open mic stand up, and this runs parallel with all the other events that crop up in the episode.

Everyone, sans Clark, has a life changing event of some sort and there is a delicious twist on the Pat/Damona romance. Molly learns something important and D.K. works to outmaneuver Dave at the Park house.

In terms of guests, this episode is a positive cornucopia of performers from Ken Jeong’s career and there are a few surprise cameo’s thrown in for good measure. (Hint: Keep your eyes open for two guests in a “blink and you will miss it” spot midway through the episode.)

There are some very funny cringeworthy moments mixed in with the usual dose of Dr. Ken comedy with its touch of poignancy. One gets the feeling that, like the rest of the series, that Ken and his team have amped up his real-life story to good effect.

After watching the season finale, which airs Friday; 31 March on ABC, one is left wondering about the future of the series.  If it comes back for a third season who will be left on the roster. More importantly, however, is the question of where will the show head next?

The finale, with its comic cliffhanger ending, can be interpreted in several ways. It will be up to the fans to decide whether this is the prelude to an end or a comic misdirection to titillate viewers who wonder what will happen in season three.

Dr. Ken has managed to keep an average viewing audience of 4.426 million. The last two episodes have kept an even demographic rating.  However, there has been a drop in figures from the first, shortened, season despite the show’s comedy output increasing.

It could be argued that the loss of Kate Simses as series regular hurt the show early in the season and that this, more than anything else, affected the overall ratings.  However, the family friendly comedy and that signature “touch of poignancy” in so many episodes has made this season far superior to the first outing of Dr. Ken.

The Dr. Ken season finale airs Friday on ABC. Tune in for some guest star fun and the usual quotient of comedy with just a touch of tears.

 

Chelsea: Netflix, Anna Kendrick and Disney Princesses (Review)

Chelsea Handler

After having forgiven the show’s producer (Chelsea Handler) for having Ariana Huffington on as a guest, it was time to watch her Netflix talkshow again. This week was Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine (Who?), an English relationship guru and Disney princesses. Handler is funny and outside the box more often than not. Episode 21 and 22 proved this with the choices of eclectic “out of studio” segments on offer.

A voice coach who helps transexuals learn how to sound more feminine and a meditative adult coloring session. (Emphasis on the “adult” as the book Chelsea had was apparently the Kama Sutra.) She also had the former financial advisor for President Obama on to speak about Brexit.

(Not being funny but would it have not made more sense to have a Brit on to speak about a British issue? And not being funny but how clever is a former anything, let alone a former financial expert…)

Kendrick’s turned out to be quite funny in the little “skit” in the green room where she bashes Chelsea about for not being able to sing  on the show.   Anna dragging a fake Chelsea “dummy” in from off camera to pummel thing was amusing. So too was the real host crawling back in to grab an apple from the coffee table.

Chelsea manages to have an eclectic choice of guests. The show also interviews more of the less “main-stream” performers. Jim Gaffigan falls into this category. Another stand-up comic, like Devine and Chelsea,  I had never heard of him till those “Jim Gaffigan Show” advertisements (that take up about 10 seconds) showed up on the telly. After his spot on Chelsea and learning of a network called TV Land, this can now be rectified.

Adam Devine is another one that was only discovered on a television advert.  In touting Allstate via “Spa Day” the performer  was amusing and vaguely reminiscent of actor Robert Morse sans gap. Obviously missing Perfect Pitch at the cinema meant that Devine was, for all intents and purposes, unknown.

The guest list this week included another stand-up comic with her own Netflix show; Maria Bamford. Another “never heard of” performer who comes across as rather too wide eyed to be natural but with an offbeat humor that was catchy. Maria’s show is titled Lady Dynamite and her show, like Gaffigan’s, is “F**king funny.”  At least according to Chelsea Handler they are and she knows funny. 

It is still quite hard to understand the allure of Ms. Handler.  The woman is amusing and so she should be.  After all this is what she does for a living. But,  for as many things that make her irresistible there are others that annoy, puzzle and often irritate.

Part of what makes the entertainer addictive is her dry sarcasm and caustic wit, intermingled with the coarseness of a fishmonger’s wife. Is this an act or the real woman masquerading as un-educated commoner with a thirst for odd knowledge. Do we care? Of course not because Handler works her act well.

Back to the show: The choices of “off studio” guests (versus the ones who get to share stage time with Chunk) are funny mixed with strange. The quirky elocution instructor was completely off the wall and quite evocative of the fringe types that hover around the edges of Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

The meditation group, that Chelsea and Laker’s player Metta World Peace visit were “low key” funny.  All the practitioners of the “coloring” segment were full of earnest sincerity and focus.  The juxtaposition of Handler with her  “not taking this seriously” attitude provided the comedic outcome of the experience.

Regardless of the guests, Handler is the real draw here.  Her laid back delivery, that is mixed with a slightly antagonist attitude, make her fascinating as a host and a woman. Even without the nude and topless Instagram shots in support of “whatever” Chelsea Handler is an addictive performer.

The two episodes per week on Netflix works well. It keeps us from being inundated with too much Chelsea.

Chelsea airs Thursdays and Fridays on Netflix.  Fans should head over right now and watch this quirky performer.  Pay attention to the Disney princess gag where it is claimed that these heroines are giving young women body issues.  Like most of the bits on the show it is oddly funny.

The Mindy Project: Princeton Charming (Review)

Mindy on a date in Princeton Charming

“The Mindy Project,” which moved over to Hulu from FOX last year, fell under the radar until recently. Being that time of year where shows finish and that fallow period begins where new series  have yet start, there are the odd gems out there that linger on past the “season.” Mindy Kaling has a comedy that runs for an incredible 26 episodes on Hulu and it is a ray of comic sunshine that lights up this dark in-between time on telly. “Princeton Charming” the episode that aired Monday is a great example of why this comedy works so well.

Dr. Lahiri (Kaling) returns from her Texas visit with presents for everyone but holds back the giant belt buckle she bought for Jody (Garret Dillahunt) when she learns he has a new girlfriend. After dispensing the gifts, she takes a call from her old alma mater Princeton. 

The Ivy League university wants Mindy to give her “Later Baby!” presentation at the facility.  Jody initially says he cannot go, his new girl has an allergy appointment, but Mindy talks him into changing his mind.

Jody’s new girlfriend (played by Maria Thayer) has severe allergies and rubs Mindy up the wrong way the moment she begins sneezing at an ear splitting decibel level in the car.  The little group wend their way to the Princeton auditorium only to learn from the local football coach Jay R. Ferguson  that room they booked has already been taken  for recruiting players. 

Mindy learns that she booked the auditorium for the same date next year and surrenders the room to the coach. Not before learning that they know each other from when Mindy was at Princeton before. There is a clear mutual attraction, all the more so after Lahiri puts the coach’s hands on her breast “for five seconds.”

Shortly after,  the coach not only gives up the auditorium but helps Mindy distribute the flyers at the Science Library.  By the end of the episode Coach has asked Mindy on a date, after they have sex back at his place and she has bonded with Jody’s new girlfriend.

Series creator Kaling, who also stars as the ob/gyn who takes control of her own life with hilarious consequences, cut her comic chops on the American version of  “The Office.” “The Mindy Project”  showcases her talents very well.

Mindy Kaling’s character is strong, successful and quirky. Somewhat overly preoccupied with sex and always on the lookout for  a new fella in her live. Mindy Lahiri is fun and funny.

Jay R. Ferguson plays the coach in this episode and this actor, who has been killing it over on ABC’s The Real O’Neals  as the father, manages to make the most of his guest star role. Ferguson exudes a sort of truth in what ever role he plays and the interaction between the actor and Mindy Kaling was priceless. 

“The Mindy Project” is one of the few genuinely funny shows on television at the moment.  A lead character who is attractive,  funny and likable and storylines that are amusing and quirky equal a win in terms of comedy.

The series airs  Mondays on Hulu. Tune in only if you like to laugh.

Rosewood: Badges & Bombshells – Season Finale (Review)

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Rosewood this week has blackmail, murder (of course) and backstory.  It also has some pretty surprising twists. Captain Hornstock turns his badge in,  TMI backs out of the wedding and her relationship with Pippy, Donna appears to be dating a convict and Rosie gets blasted by Villa on their first date.

The episode begins with a man being blown up in his car. An autopsy of the bits and pieces of the victim reveal he was poisoned before being blown up. The deceased was a lawyer for a pharmaceutical company and as a lad was placed in juvenile corrections.  His murder is traced back to those days.

John Billingsley guest stars as a corrupt judge who took payouts for giving young offenders stiff sentences and he is connected to the pharmaceutical business.  Captain Hornstock is blackmailed by a fixer and told to stop investigating the murder of the lawyer. The same man ambushes Villa and Rosie while they question Louie Van Winkle (Chad Lindberg).

Pippy (Gabrielle Dennisquits after TMI breaks up with her and ends the wedding and Daisie Villa (Lisa Vidal) gives Annalise a “love basket” for the Rosie date. Mom is overjoyed that her daughter has moved on from Eddie’s death and has opted for Beaumont Rosewood. 

The bad guys are caught and Hornstock (Domenick Lombardozzi) goes to Internal Affairs; drops off his gun and badge along with evidence of something he did 18 years ago.  Donna meets with Gerald who is an inmate. Rosie makes Mitchie run the toxicology report on Eddie one more time. 

Rosie arrives at the date with Villa to tell her that he believes Eddie was murdered. Villa flips out. After explaining how hard it has been for her to move on, she then accuses Rosewood of being damaged. She tells him that his need to be a  hero makes him underestimate and undervalue those around him.

Annalise tells Rosie to get out of her house and her life.

Back at the lab, Rosewood continues his investigation.

By the time the dust settles, or the end credits roll, everyone’s lives are in turmoil.  Annalise is furious with Rosie and called things off before they could even begin. Hornstock has turned in himself and his  badge and gun. Pippy and TMI are through and Rosie’s sister has quit.  Rosewood is still working on his Eddie was murdered theory and the only person unscathed by the end of the final episode is Mitchie (Sam Huntington).

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While it may seem appropriate to panic a little at the Rosie/Annalise blow up, this may soon pass. After all, Villa was all revved up and ready for some Rosie “rumpy-pumpy” (Enrique Iglesias, chocolate covered cherries and some heady romance was on the cards not a “your husband was murdered” revelation.) and nothing spoils the mood quicker than poking a sore, recently healed wound.

Villa has forgotten that Rosewood’s mind never stops.  It is what makes him the best pathologist in Miami.

The chemistry between Rosie and Villa was hot, hot, hot in this episode. The little daydream sequence, where Annalise lowers her top and Rosewood sweeps the glasses off the tabletop, was steamy and seemed to be a “finally” moment.

It was, however, a false start.  Even after ascertaining that these two strong-willed people were on a bona-fide date, it was all too easy to see it getting screwed up somehow.

“Rosewood” will be back for a second season so perhaps this finale is another false start.  Time will tell.