Fresh Off the Boat: Week in Review – Team Jessie-Lou (Review)

Fresh Off the Boat: Week in Review reveals that in Grandma Huang’s day, the men made the money and killed the spiders. That when the word lice is uttered, everyone takes one step back. Team Jessie-Lou fall apart but get back together and Eddie not only saves the day but learns that “being homeless” is no big deal. Two of the Huang children bring lice home.

RANDALL PARK, CONSTANCE WU

Fresh Off the Boat: Week in Review reveals that in Grandma Huang’s day, the men made the money and killed the spiders. That when the word lice is uttered, everyone takes one step back. Team Jessie-Lou falls apart but gets back together and Eddie not only saves the day but learns that “being homeless” is no big deal. Two of the Huang children bring lice home.

We also learn, according to Jessica, that lice are the “pedophiles of the insect world.”

Before the oldest Huang son is ejected out of the house for being lice infected,  Eddie and his friends discuss the upcoming  student faculty basketball game; the winning team gets pizza. In class later, Eddie talks smack with his teacher Mr G (Al Madrigal). The teacher tells Eddie if he gets a basket  against him, that Eddie will have no homework for the rest of the year. 

Eddie responds that if he does not score, the teacher can give him double homework. His schoolmates are horrified.  Jessie and Louis are shocked that  Eddie has lice (We didn’t come to this country so our son could get lice,  says an annoyed Louis). Later Evan comes home infected as well.  Both boys are evicted from the family home until the lice are gone.

Comic Moments:

Jessica yelling at Trent:

“Wait, no, Big Red, keep your distance! Eddie is DISEASED!”

 

Evan telling his parents that he has lice and stretching his arms out for a hug, “Bao bao.” The next shot has the littlest Huang outside with Eddie.  Jessica places her hand, which is made into Vulcan palms through the window.

Louis and Jessica covered from head to toe to treat Eddie and Evan.

Emery not getting lice and saying, “Wait. How come I don’t have lice? I mean, how do you not want to be up in this?” He follows this with a self-satisfied slow-motion hair flip.

Eddie flinging his towel into the  crowd at the gym and their horrified reaction to it.

Jessica’s  “Louis.”

Grandma Huang watching Jerry Springer and chanting “Jer-ry, Jer-ry.”

Jessica admiring the team name that Louis has made up for their team, Jessie-Lou.

Jessica: “Sounds like a country girl who’s has sex too early.”

Louis and Jessica hugging, even though she has gotten lice from Eddie. As the couple embrace she says:

Jessica: “Louis, I just want you to know that if you get lice, I’m putting you outside with Eddie.”

Louis (sighing): “I know. I’ve always known.”

Overall Thoughts:

Not having watched the first season, except via binging after the fact, it took some time to really get into Fresh Off the Boat and its “based on real people” characters and storylines. However…

The performances of the actors, the writing and the chemistry between the players makes this a brilliant,  funny and addictive show to watch.

Park and Wu are perfect together and how can one not adore Constance Wu’s Jessica? The scene where Louis has worked out four minutes of “alone time” is cute and funny.

Louis: “And, uh, ooh, here I made a note that Wednesday afternoon, you and I have the whole house to ourselves… for four minutes.”

Jessica: (Giggling) ” Louis.”

Louis: “And you know I only need two.”

Jessica: (Giggling)  “Louis.”

Louis: “Shall I pencil you in… twice?”

Jessica: “Oh, Louis.”

Later on the day of the “four minutes” there is more romance and Jessica “Oh Louis-ing” again until Eddie returns with the news he has lice.

Everyone clicked in this episode. Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen as the Huang kids were spot on (Ian Chen’s little gasp/scream at the sight of his stuffed toys in the box was brilliant) and Hudson just rocked it in this episode.

HUDSON YANG, AL MADRIGAL
HUDSON YANG, AL MADRIGAL

Even the school friends of Eddie’s were a delight. The smack talking sequence with the teacher was hysterical as was Eddie’s saving the day and announcing he has superpowers while eating the victory pizza.

Fresh Off the Boat continues to deliver the laughs and is another addictive comedy. The show airs  Tuesdays on ABC.

Fresh Off the Boat: Keep ‘Em Separated – Gender Frienders (Review)

Fresh Off the Boat: Keep ‘Em Separated proves that this show is not just about fitting in with the American dream of the ’90s but its also about issues like befriending someone of a different gender. In other words, the old “Harry Met Sally” theme

 CONSTANCE WU, CHELSEY CRISP, RANDALL PARK

Fresh Off the Boat: Keep ‘Em Separated proves that this show is not just about fitting in with the American dream of the ’90s but its also about issues like befriending someone of a different gender. In other words, the old “Harry Met Sally” theme of men cannot be just friends with women. Especially when they are married…

Season two of Fresh Off the Boat continues to entertain with funny storylines and despite this episode spending a lot of time with the “kids” it lost nothing in terms of comedy.  The writing also featured a three-pronged attack, if not more, on the realities of being a friend, regardless of gender.

At the start of the episode Jessica (Constance Wu) is catching up with next-door neighbor, and bestie, Honey (Chelsey Crisp) when Louis comes in. The two women are having wine and talking and it is Honey’s turn to say who she would haunt. 

Louis invades, grabs Honey’s glass of wine and cheerfully tells Jessica’s friend that there are “plenty more of those bad boys in the kitchen,” when she complains. The next night Louis invites himself into their tete a tete once more. Finally the women have to sneak off to a bar to visit without Jessica’s husband “cutting in.”

Their plan fails when Louis finds them.

Jessica decides to get Louis back into playing pool by breaking out his old pool cue and giving him names and directions to local pool halls.  Her plan works and Louis gets back into playing pool and he has a new friend; Tony.

The only problem is that Tony is a woman (played by Angelique Cabral). 

Standout moment:

Grandma Huang (Lucille Soong) gets the standout moment of the episode. As Jessica freaks out over the fact that Louis is “hanging out with another women” Louis’ mother wheels herself into the living room:

Grandma Huang (in Chinese): “You’re being replaced. I will push for you to stay on the couch until you find a new place.”

Honey and Jessica head down to the pool hall to meet Tony and Louis’s wife becomes aggressive and removes her husband from the premises.

“You have no power here, witch…”

At school Eddie, who is still dating Alison (Isabella Alexander), learns that his old crush Nicole (Luna Blaise) has broken up with her boyfriend. Huang and his pals are talking about the breakup at lunch. They learn from Ned that  Nicole’s boyfriend quoted the Terminator as a means of ending the relationship. 

Chris to Nicole: “Hasta la vista, baby, like for  eva.”

Eddie: “That’s how he broke up with her?”

Walter: “T-2? That’s cold.”

Nicole stops by Eddie’s table and while Trent tries to catch her eye, Eddie asks his previous crush out for ice cream later in the week.  Dave questions the wisdom of Huang’s going “out” with an old crush that Allison knows nothing about.

A plan is devised wherein Eddie and his group of friends work to keep the two girls apart, hence the title.

Allison calls Eddie and reveals she knew about the crush and that she used to have a crush on Dave (Evan Hannemann). Eddie is not pleased at this news and when he catches his girl talking to his best friend, he reacts badly.

 HUDSON YANG, ISABELLA ALEXANDER
HUDSON YANG, ISABELLA ALEXANDER

Honorable Mention:

After Jessica grabs Louis out of the pool hall, and away from Tony, she explains that Louis can have a female friend, outside of work, but reels off a list of 12 rules that he must obey. The lengthy list  includes the woman not being taller, or thinner, Louis having to display his wedding ring, by his face, at all times, and so on; each rule being funnier than the last. Major kudos to Constance Wu for this one.

Also in the honorable mention category is the entire scene with Jessica in a skin-tight cat-suit and high heels in the pool hall with Louis.

Final Thoughts:

The magic of this episode is that  Eddie appears to take after his mother in the area of romance and relationships.  Just as Jessica loses it when she learns of Tony, and then flips out when she sees the woman, Eddie reacts aggressively when he learns of his girlfriend’s old crush on his best friend Dave and then catches Allison talking to his bestie.

In a deviation from its normal “fish out of water” theme, Fresh Off the Boat takes a look at the whole question of gender specific friends and when it is okay to be friends with the opposite sex. (Only when the sun is up, according to Jessica.) With the storyline applying to both Eddie and Louis, and Jessica, this was well written and performed with an impressive perfection by all.

The child actors have all “upped their game” and the interaction between the youngsters went smoothly and entertained.  Hudson Yang always delivers but in Keep ‘Em Separated his youthful cast mates acquitted themselves well.

Fresh Off the Boat shows that clever writing always wins. The “Keep ‘Em Separated” applies to both Eddie’s two girls and Jessica’s plan to keep Tony away from Louis.  By the end of the episode, Eddie makes up with Dave and Louis is allowed to play pool with Tony.

At the pool hall/bar the two  finish their discussion about  who would win a fight between “A Cabbage Patch Kid possessed by a demon or Teddy Ruxpin with a Metallica tape in him…”

Tony accidentally makes contact with Louis breaking one of her 12 rules. The bartender immediately intercedes:

“Hey! No touching. You know Jessica’s rules.”

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC.  Tune in and catch one of the funniest comedies on television. Yet another comic feather in ABC’s cap, watch this show if you like to laugh.

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever – Checkmated at Tennis (Review)

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever proves that just when it seems that the Huang family comedy has peaked in terms of humor, this episode goes and knocks it out of the park. (Or more correctly, serves an ace with blazing comedic grace.)

CONSTANCE WU, RANDALL PARK

Fresh Off the Boat: Michael Chang Fever proves that just when it seems that the Huang family  comedy has peaked in terms of humor, this episode goes and  knocks it out of the park. (Or more correctly, serves an ace with blazing comedic grace.)  The episode opens with the Huang boys complaining about matching “Cool” backpacks and handing over the school’s career guidance letters.

Jessica (Constance Wu) informs her brood that it is her job to tell them what their jobs will be. In mid sentence she is amazed and excited to learn that Evan’s ideal job is surgeon general. Eddie reacts with derision.

Eddie: “Dang fool, even by Chinese standards you’re a nerd.”

Evan replies,”My backpack doesn’t agree with you.”

Mom is less thrilled at Emery’s ideal position; flight attendant. Jessica’s reaction is priceless:

“Flight attendants don’t even get a seat on the plane, they walk back and forth pushing a cart…They’re the homeless of the sky!”

Evan (Ian Chen) returns to the room back wearing a white coat and a toy stethoscope. He pokes Eddie and tells his big brother:

“Sir, your lab results are in. Your diagnosis–butt face.”

Eddie stares at the littlest Huang without expression.

This opening sets the comedic tone for the episode, where Lewis (Randall Park) rushes the family to the settee to watch Michael Chang play tennis in the Australian Open.  As he explains how luck the family are to have a proper Asian athlete to follow, Eddie and Evan manage to make good their escape. Only Emery stays to watch.

Later, after Lewis explains how much money can be made from being tennis professional, Jessica ordains that Emery will learn the game to keep him from becoming a flight attendant. At the local club, Emery (Forrest Wheeler) proves to be a natural, he is so adept at the sport that even tennis legend  Billie Jean King is impressed.

Emery is so good that Jessica puts him in Eddie’s room and forces the oldest Huang child to share with Evan. Eddie (Hudson Yang) learns that Evan is being bullied for Pogs and offers advice on how to “be a bear” and put the bully off.

As the middle son wins his way through the “Under 16” tennis tournament, Jessica and Lewis react with excitement until Emery fires them both and “hires” Ms. King to be his coach.  Eddie learns that the bear trick does not work and he steps in to help out Evan.

FORREST WHEELER, BILLIE JEAN KING
FORREST WHEELER, BILLIE JEAN KING

It is revealed that Evan is not being bullied, he owes the Pogs to a girl (a fifth grader) who keeps beating him at the game. Big brother actually helps Evan to win and it is revealed that the youngest sibling has a “gambling problem.”

Grandma (Lucille Soong) Huang is enlisted by Eddie to help him beat the fifth grader, Emery wins the “Under 16” tournament, and realizes that as much as he likes the winning, he really would rather be a flight attendant. 

Jessica plants a seed about becoming an astronaut instead. Evan and Eddie develop a great brotherly bond, although the eldest does rearrange the star stickers on the ceiling from Evan’s Equinox setting to spell out “Wu-Tang.”

Standout Moments:

Ian Chen, doing his Ken Jeong “Dr.  Ken” impression talking smack. Priceless.

Emery and Billie Jean King doing the “winner’s perm stroll.”

Lewis and Jessica’s reactions each time that Emery wins a match.

Billie Jean King’s temper tantrum.

Constance Wu’s line “checkmated at tennis…”

Constance Wu totally rocking it this week, easily becoming a firm favorite as more of her character is revealed. Wu is brilliant at understated comedy and this episode proves it.

Final Thoughts:

This was, perhaps, the best Fresh Off the Boat yet. The storyline, Billie Jean King (along with all those 90s tennis star references, Sampras, Becker, Agassi and of course Michael Chang) plus the pop culture reference to the 1998 video Wu-Tang; starring the band-members made this one especially brilliant.

Ian Chen just finished a “cross-over” role on Dr. Ken playing Dave Park’s decoy for the babysitter. Randall Park is due to play role on Jeong’s comedy series as well and “Dr. Ken” himself is also slated to appear on Fresh Off the Boat.  Both these Asian comedies, with very different approaches to the genre, are funny and addictive.

Fresh Off the Boat, with its basis in fact (a re-telling of the real Eddie Huang’s childhood) is not filmed in front of a studio audience and is more of a cultural comedy than Dr. Ken but both shows work very  well.  In each show, the family’s children; Molly and Dave Park and the three Huang boys, have young actors who kill it every week in terms of performance.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and discover a great comedy that just keeps getting better and better.

 

 

Fresh Off the Boat: Miracle on Dead Street (Review)

IAN CHEN, FORREST WHEELER, RANDALL PARK

Fresh Off the Boat, the Huang family comedy that Eddie Huang refuses to support, reached a level place on Miracle on Dead Street. While based upon the memoirs of Huang, the network’s decision to make it into Everybody Hates Chris but with a family from Taiwan clearly does not set well with the restauranteur. Regardless of Eddie’s dislike of the show, it is moving into solidly funny territory, although many of the youthful cast members let the side down.

Randall Park gives a solid performance as the guy trying to live the American suburban dream.  Constance Wu is warming up a bit in this Halloween themed episode and it has to be said that the excitement felt by the father Louis, is real thing for those who have never experienced “first-hand” the juvenile world of trick or treat.

American’s either forget, or take for granted, the age-old custom of going from house to house as, Randall Park’s character puts it, “someone else.” The comedy from his character’s level in the episode works brilliantly. The “flashback” where Louis is dressed up like a KISS band-member  and throws candy at passer’s by below his brownstone window is funny.

The young actors who play the Huang children all acquit themselves very well. The gag of Hannibal Lector and Silence of the Lambs, treated and delivered as a throw-a-way joke,  was beyond priceless. These child actors, which is, perhaps, an outdated term, do well with their parts and the lines as written.

Hudson YangForrest Wheeler and Ian Chen kill it. They are infinitely believable when they act, there are no “dead” lines or awkward deliveries. Mad props to the boy who wants to go as the Traveling  Wilburys, he sells it, not once, but twice. Sadly not all the young actors on the show are as skilled at their craft.

Fresh Off the Boat airs sans the benefit of a studio audience. Looking at the show’s rankings on IMDb, this seems to be working. The theme of “fish out of water” or the outsider relishing all things American is solid and allows Park to shine.

The only other draw back of the show is how Constance Wu as Mrs. Huang is portrayed, but, as with the episodes themselves, her character is growing to become that bit more “likable.” As with Lucille Soong, who plays Grandma Huang, it is taking a little time to get used to the actor’s performance which may be down to the writer’s having trouble finding the two female characters’ voice.

The series is popular enough that ABC have ordered a full 22 episode second season. Another ABC sitcom to be given a boost is Dr. Ken, the network’s second Asian comedy program. The series, co-created by Ken Jeong,  has been given an order for a further “back nine.”  Each sitcom has its own comedic merits and both are funny despite have two very different production values and delivery systems.

Fresh Off the Boat is a series that doubles as a sort of time machine. Taking place back in the 1990’s and telling the tale of a Taiwanese family learning to “fit in” to their new country’s customs and traditions as well as learning how the suburbs differ from their urban background.  These types of scenarios are good for comedy and tragedy so it is no surprise that the comic angle has been chosen.

Eddie Huang is still not enamored with the version of his life that  ABC  has chosen to air.  The author and restauranteur has stated that he understands that comedy is generated by pain but that he hates what the network have done. Perhaps Huang could accept it if he was more into comedy as a trade rather than law, food and restaurants.  Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris, is based upon his childhood,  which the comic says was not overly great either, but Rock turned his kid hood pathos into comedy, but then that is Chris’s specialty…Comedy.

Fresh Off the Boat is funny and the Halloween episode Miracle on Dead Street is the best installment of the show thus far. Randall Park is the undisputed star of the show and,  just as he almost stole the entire film The Interview, from co-stars Franco and Rogen, when he is in front of the camera he just kills it. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC.  Tune in and prepare to laugh, as well as cringe a little. Well worth watching this show, despite what Eddie Huang thinks…Sorry Eddie.