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: Doing it Right – Like Mother, Like Son (Review)

Fresh Off the Boat: Doing it Right features the North Orlando Chili Cook Off (NO-CO), Eddie’s natural talent for cooking and Evan turns out to be a “mini-me” version of Jessica. To paraphrase an old saying, “like mother, like son,” the youngest Huang family member is almost a carbon copy of him mom. Both of them are “bossy.”

Constance Wu

Fresh Off the Boat: Doing it Right  features the North Orlando Chili Cook Off (NO-CO), Eddie’s natural talent for cooking and Evan turns out to be a “mini-me” version of Jessica.  To paraphrase an old saying, “like mother, like son,” the youngest Huang family member is almost a carbon copy of his mom.  Both of them are “bossy.”

The story this week features a bonding moment between Louis and Eddie, but only briefly as the two work together cooking  chili.  Initially the oldest Huang sibling is overjoyed to be helping his father.  However, Eddie does not understand why Louis throws out each batch only to start over and why he will not take any suggestions on ingredients.

Louis angrily explains that Eddie is like his mother, always futzing and wanting to add things, “This is chili,” he says, “not jazz.” His oldest son breaks off the apprenticeship and enters his own creation in the NO-CO. Marvin (Ray Wise) is also in the contest and he brags about winning five “golden stockpots” for his wild boar chili.

At the start of the episode, Honey (Chelsey Crisp) is visiting with Jessica and she points out that her friend is very good at pointing out other peoples flaws. “Thank you,” says Jessica. Later she will learn that Evan shares her trait but only exhibits  it away from home.

Jessica is impressed with the traffic “zippering” approach in front of the school and loses her cool when another parent ignores the natural order and pushes in front of her car.  Angry, she  goes up to the pushy parent and tells her off. She learns that the driver is Evan’s best friend J J.

Later the woman tells Jessica that Evan is not invited to J J’s  birthday party.  Jessica is distraught believing that she is responsible for him being uninvited.  She apologizes but even though J J’s mother accepts, she tells Jessica that Evan is still not invited.

At school, Trent (Trevor Larcomlearns that Eddie is helping his father for the chili cook off and is amazed to learn that Eddie has decided to quit as Louis’ apprentice.  Jessica cannot bring herself to tell Evan that he is not invited so she lies.

Crashing the birthday party she learns that Evan is a real “Bossy Boots” and despite her denial, it is clear that Evan is very bossy toward his best friend. Later when she complains about the woman’s assertions, Honey explains that he gets it from her.

The day of the chili cook off arrives and Marvin  has his stall set up with all his prior awards standing on the top of the table.  Louis learns that Eddie has entered his own creation under the name of Big Daddy Wong.

Louis, Eddie and another contestant; Gloria,  make the top three, Marvin is removed from the competition for putting a Whopper in his chili.  On the day Jessica tells Evan that she saw his behavior at the party and asks him why he is so bossy. Evan says probably because no one listens to him at home.

Neither Louis nor Eddie win but get the Golden Stockpot since Gloria does not believe in celebrating winning. At dinner that night, Evan is allowed to chose what they drink with their meal and none of the things he picks are in the house.

At school the next day, he is much nicer to J.J. and he has gotten the briefcase he asked for earlier in the episode.

Standout Moments in Fresh Off the Boat Episode 17:

Jessica’s  glove suggestion and the dead mime punchline.

Marvin’s Razorback hat (Whoo Pigs Sooie).

Eddie’s Arizona T-shirt.

Louis’ clandestine appointment to buy the ghost chilies.

Jessica, again, with her talk to Evan about idolizing her, “No I don’t,” argues Evan. “Yes you do,” replies Jessica firmly.

Honorable Mentions:

The local female news reporter/judge screaming for another towel.

Trent passed out by Marvin’s tent surrounded by free sample cups of chili.

Jessica’s reaction to Emery popping over the top of the bunk bed and her “cat bell” line.

Final Thoughts:

Great episode that once again was less about fitting into 1990s suburbia and more about the family dynamic. Emery (Forrest Wheeler) is only seen fleetingly though. (Although his upside down moment and Jessica’s reaction to it came close to being a “standout moment.”) 

Fresh Off the Boat, after a somewhat shaky start with this reviewer, has now become a firm favorite.  Once the show’s character became more real the humor leapt off the screen and the series truly amuses.  Honey and Marvin, Chelsey Crisp and the iconic Ray Wise as the May/December couple next door, continue to amuse when they are on the show.

This series is developing into a brilliant ensemble piece and while it is about the Huang family, it is the character of Jessica who is starting to become a personal favorite.  Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC.

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.

 

 

Dr Ken: The Wedding Sitter – “Selfish Dancer” Review

Dr. Ken: The Wedding Sitter had a lot going for it, a brilliant “sort-of” cross-over where Fresh Off the Boat regular (Ian Chen who plays Evan Huang) steps in as Dave Park’s doppelgänger.

 KEN JEONG, SUZY NAKAMURA

Dr. Ken: The  Wedding Sitter had a lot going for it, a brilliant “sort-of” cross-over where Fresh Off the Boat regular (Ian Chen who plays Evan Huang) steps in as Dave Park’s doppelgänger. There is some great Molly (Krista Marie Yu) showcasing and a sweet ending for Clark (Jonathan Slavin) in a Four Weddings and a Funeral fashion  as well as a great “selfish dancer” storyline which ends on an uplifting note…almost.

Sidenote: There was one issue. Okay, this is “sitcom-land” where logic does sometimes have to fly out the window. However…Either this episode has been aired out-of-sequence or the Pat/Damona “colleagues-with-benefits” storyline has taken an odd turn. Since everyone, and by everyone meaning all the folks at the clinic, know about the two “doing the nasty” Pat’s insistence that “the three of you” avoid him at the wedding makes no sense at all.  Can we have a collective shrug? 

Still, this episode had some brilliant comic moments.  Dr Ken, (Ken Jeong) cuts a mean rug and does some great moves…”yo.” In terms of highlights the two dance sequences at the Tuttle wedding the first where Ken is a “selfish dancer” and the second where he and Allison (Suzy Nakamura) do their ballroom dance sequence, with disastrously funny consequences,  rock.

So too do the brief flashbacks where the young actor picked to portray Dr Ken is the same height (If not taller?) than his adult “self.” Ken Jeong is great at playing these height gags with an aplomb that is envious (take,  for example, Dave’s Valentine).

The storyline this week has all of the clinic being invited to Dr. Tuttle’s wedding, although Julie (Kate Simses,  who also rocked it this week with her “shouting” at the doctor), Clark and Damona (Tisha Campbell-Martin) are clearly on the ‘B’ invite list.

Julie: “Mine was addressed to “Dr. Julie Dobbs or current resident.

JONATHAN SLAVIN, TISHA CAMPBELL-MARTIN, KATE SIMSES
Wrong wedding…oops.

Later, the trio’s suspicions are confirmed when they learn that they have no seats at the event. However, on the up side, Clark meets his perfect match in Connor (Stephen Guarino) although the two get separated when the group learn they are at the wrong wedding reception.

At the Park residence, Molly is press-ganged into babysitting duty since the regular sitter is ill.  After giving in, the teenager then enlists a former (and much older) sitter to look after her brother so she can go to the grove with friends.  Not to be outdone by this show of cunning, Dave then hires Henry (Ian Chen) to be his “stand-in” for the evening so he can attend a magic show.

At the real wedding reception, Ken dances with Allison,  proving that he is not a selfish dancer after all.  Clark is reunited with Cooper and Pat, who is initially overjoyed at seeing the trio he brushed off prior to the reception,  ends up out in the cold.

Standout Moments:

Ken’s dancing.

Those flashbacks, or more correctly the reactions of those privy to Park’s walk down memory lane.

Molly and Dave with their quickly concocted story and the fist-bump.

Julie shouting at Tuttle twice, but not in a bad way.

Henry and Mrs. Pancake discussing the wall and immigration (after Dave told him not to bring it up).

Clark and Connor.

Ian Chen proving that he rocks whether he is on Fresh Off the Boat or on Dr Ken.

 JILL BASEY, IAN CHEN
Mrs Pancake (Jill Basey) and Henry (Ian Chen).

Apart from that “clanging moment” where Pat totally seemed to be disrespecting his “shag partner” this was another instance of Dr Ken proving once again it is one of the funniest shows on television.   While Ken Jeong effortlessly turns in a comic performance that leaves one almost breathless with laughter, and not a little awed, the rest of the cast also manage to prove that their comedic chops are mighty.

It as to be said that Dave Foley, as Pat, has become a particular favorite, like an American “Terry Thomas” but with a touch of discomfort that makes his sexually obsessed hospital administrator a delight to watch.

Overall Thoughts:

The entire episode is excellent crack, apart from the Pat/Damona misstep. It was great fun to see Chen from Fresh Off the  Boat  (The “Huang children” on the other ABC sitcom comedy are favorites of Mike’s Film Talk and it would have been brilliant to see all of them worked into the show somehow…just saying.)  and the cake scene was well done.

Ken: “Whew! That was close.”

It was a nice touch to see why Ken was a selfish dancer and it allowed the series to add a little bit more to the character of Dr Ken Park.

 KATE SIMSES, TISHA CAMPBELL-MARTIN, DAVE FOLEY
Pat just before getting his comeuppance…

Dr Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Stop by, take a seat and prepare to laugh.