Dr Ken: Ken’s Professor – Tough Love (Review)

KEN JEONG, JONATHAN BANKS

Jonathan Banks, who has made a career out of playing characters that one would not want to be stuck in a doctor’s waiting room with, guest stars in Dr. Ken as Ken’s old professor from his intern days. In this episode Ken’s old mentor re-applies some “tough love” (a practice he utilized while overseeing Ken’s training years before) only to learn that the student has become a teacher as well.

Banks, who caught the public’s imagination as Mike Erhmantraut in both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, worked with Ken in Community and yet is another alumni of the popular comedy to “drop by” and play an integral part in Ken Jeong’s hit show.

Ken has been spreading the “Community” love heavily since helming his new series last season and the show has benefited from having guest stars who have brilliant chemistry not only with Ken but his co-stars as well.  Banks, a prolific veteran character actor, proves to be just as adroit in a low key comedic part as he is in playing his usual roles.

(On a sidenote: Banks continues to get better and better with age. The actor has consistently been cast as quirky and unpleasant characters who, with a mere glance, give the audience palpitations. Tough and aggressive, Banks never disappoints; except, that is, when his character is killed off far too soon, as in The Expanse‘s pilot episode.)

Little is seen of the Park children in this episode. Dave, who has an issue with his own version of Dr. Erwin (Banks) takes his father’s advice about redoing a “Moby Dick” essay/review that she gave him a “D” on. Another instance of Ken rising to the occasion while suffering almost severe anxiety because of his former mentor’s presence.

Dr. Ken “Ken’s Professor” manages to serve up a double-helping of comedy, with a touch of poignancy (the show’s overwhelming trademark) by allowing the Damona/Pat storyline to share the limelight. This is an interesting, and favorite, part of the Dr. Ken verse that continues to please.

While Pat and Damona clearly find each other irresistible in the physical chemistry department – those steamy clinches in the supply cupboard were funny and very revealing – they also, apparently, bring out the best in one another.

Damona tells Pat earlier that his focusing on her happiness, even when they were apart, meant a lot to her. On the surface this appears to be a case of “opposites attract.” However, if one looks closely, the two are very similar. Both tend to avoid conflict, Damona “ghosting Eric” to avoid telling him that their relationship if over and Pat’s living in his boat on his ex-wife’s driveway in season one are good examples.

Of course Pat’s reluctance to end things with “Manic Megan” was also a clear indicator that the Welltopia Administrator will go a long way to avoid a confrontation. (Unlike his behavior at work where he ran roughshod over Clark in the union negotiations.)

The couple also have “grown up” issues something that Pat hilariously uses to “one up” Damona.

The power of this episode, as in many of the episodes in season two, is Ken’s reaffirmation of his skill as a medico and his growth as a character.

Dr. Ken has been less about the gags and his comedic yearnings to be a stand-up comic this year. It has been more about his personal journey to become a better father, husband, doctor and colleague.

It is the growth of all the characters, not just Ken, that makes the second season of Dr. Ken a real winner in the comedy stakes and the poignancy on offer ups the ante considerably. Allison has become more of a working spouse (no pun intended) and less of a punch line – although she has knocked some real comedic zingers out of the metaphorical park this year – Molly and Dave have also taken the comedy reins in hand. (With Krista Marie Yu killing in the cancer episode in the drama stakes.)

Dana Lee, who was absent in this episode, makes any episode he appears in funnier and Jonathan Slavin  is another performer whose work makes his character more in-depth and multi facetted, while still milking those laughs with his more outrageous moments.

It goes without saying that Dave Foley and Tisha Campbell-Martin bring a certain comedic level of expertise to the show that continues to grow and and grow.

This was a brilliant episode that bears re-watching just to see the splendid chemistry between Banks, Ken Jeong, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Dave Foley.  The interactions of these actors and their characters in this episode went beyond delightful.

Dr. Ken “Ken’s Professor” ends with Dr. Erwin informing Ken that he is now his doctor. Ken manages to simultaneously beam with pride while looking a tad panicky at the thought of future consults with his old professor.

Great stuff.

Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in for a great bit of Friday night TV.

Cast:

Guest starring Jonathan Banks as Dr. Erwin

The Expanse: Space is Dirty and Biased (Review)

Not having read the novels that The Expanse is based on, the pilot feels a little like the subplot of Total Recall (1990). Where “Cohaagen” (played with suitable smarmy menace by Ronny Cox) punishes the local Mars denizens by shutting off their air. In this new SyFy space drama, the cosmos is dirty and full of bias. Extreme opposites mark the opening episode.

The Expanse - Season 1

Not having read the novels that The Expanse is based on, the pilot feels a little like the subplot of Total Recall (1990). Where “Cohaagen” (played with suitable smarmy menace by Ronny Cox) punishes the local Mars denizens by shutting off their air.  In this new SyFy space drama, the cosmos is dirty and full of bias.  Extreme opposites mark the opening episode. 

The “subway” system on Ceres, where the series begins more or less, is loud, like real subways, or the tube in England, and compared with the relative calm and low level decibel emissions on the surface, is too loud.  The show’s main protagonists are, thus far, Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) a “Belter” cop, Holden (Steven Strait) acting XO on an ice freighter. 

There are other characters in and around the periphery and the most important of these is Julie Mao, played by Florence Faivre, who we see at the very start of the premiere episode. This young woman, first encountered in a locked room which she has to escape from, is the motivator of this story. Detective Miller is assigned the job of locating and returning the rich girl to her home.

The Expanse follows recent popular ideas of what space in the future will actually be, an uneasy alliance of miners, companies and a certain hostility between same.  In this instance, Mars, Earth and the “belt” are at odds and the currency is powered by air and water; precious commodities in the future.  There are also  other nods to existing science fiction themes and films.

The splendid character actor Jonathan Banks has a minuscule cameo in the pilot as the stressed out XO who suffers a breakdown.  In the scene where Holden has to break into the executive officer’s room,  Banks’ character is treading  barefoot in dirt;  from his plants, and softly singing “Daisy, Daisy.” (The character is also muttering other things, not least of which is the oft seen “why did we not bring more light” from teaser trailers.) This singing of “Daisy”  is a clear nod and wink to the Stanley Kubrick film A 2001 Space Odyssey and HAL’s singing of Bicycle Built for Two.

*Sidenote* It has to be pointed out that only Banks could so solidly steal an entire episode from the rest of the cast with his killer breakdown. 

The Expanse - Season 1
James Holder, Earther and reluctant hero?

In this future world of mankind’s move to the stars, people who are born and live in space, i.e. the Belters, suffer from birth defects because of the minimal oxygen levels and dirty air, along with the lower gravity and smaller G forces.  Michael Jane’s character has “spurs” at the top of his spine where the bones did not knit properly.

Later in the opening episode a Belter is taken to Earth for questioning. The too skinny prisoner is held up against a wall. The suspect is in agony as his lungs and body cannot cope with the crushing gravitation forces that are killing him.

The Expanse may spotlight a future that is dirty and full of biases based upon which world one is born on, but it is, thus far, an intelligent mystery.  Unlike other futuristic settings in space, there are no aliens, unless one counts that large bulging mass that envelops an unidentified crew member while Julie Mao screams in horror.

In some ways, the Julie Mao character feels like a McGuffin, or at the very least like the female character of Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin PeaksTime will tell whether this new offering really is a space age “TP” or not…

This hungry “mass” could well be a ball of energy or some space anomaly, there is no real indication that aliens are part of this verse. Once again, not having read the novels that the series is based on, any observations are from this version of  James S. A. Corey’s world  (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).

Clever nods and winks to other science fiction works aside, this world appears bleak and life is, apparently, cheap and very disposable.  This is pointed out when the ship that Holden is on received Julie Mao’s SOS.  The crew on the bridge, consisting of the ship’s captain and the new XO all vote to ignore the distress beacon and erase it from the freighter’s logs. All done in a matter of seconds.

Only later does Holden rethink what he has done and recovers the erased log entry forcing the ship to answer the beacon.

The Expanse - Season 1
Jay Hernandez and Thomas Jane as Havelock and Miller two of Ceres’ finest.

Viewers expecting a fast-paced,  action-packed space opera will be disappointed. The Expanse is moving slowly forward taking its time introducing the players and the plot. The series premiere, which can be seen now via the Internet with VoD and on SyFy’s site, will debut properly Monday, December 14.

This looks pretty impressive, if not a bit slow, tune in and see what you think.

Horrible Bosses 2: Funniest Sequel of 2014 (Review and Trailer)

Horrible Bosses 2: Funniest Sequel of 2014 (Review and Trailer)

After all the excitement of Dumb and Dumber To opening on November 7 to an enthusiastic existing fanbase who waited years for a sequel, it is ironic that Horrible Bosses 2 is the funniest of the two comedic sequels to premiere in 2014. The first Horrible Bosses effort premiered in 2011 to mainly uneven reviews, although the late Roger Ebert gave it three and a half out of four stars. The film performed very well at the box office mainly due to the cast which, according to Rotten Tomatoes, was the black comedy’s saving grace.

Better Call Saul: Greetings From the Set Teaser (Video)

Better Call Saul: Greetings From the Set Teaser (Video)

Better Call Saul sent a greetings card of sorts from the set in the form of a video behind-the-scenes teaser and it was posted not only on AMCs Internet site but on their official YouTube channel titled, AMC. The only people who may not know who Saul Goodman is have either been hiding under a rock for the last six years or never felt the urge to watch Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) on television or Netflix, or even iTunes. Bob Odenkirk played the savvy lawyer to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, aka Heisenberg and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman a sort of three muskateers scenario without out the fourth unless counting Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring as the temporary additional musketeer.

Aaron Paul Bryan Cranston to Reprise Breaking Bad Roles in AMC Spinoff?

Aaron Paul Bryan Cranston to Reprise Breaking Bad Roles in AMC Spinoff?

Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston are keen to reprise their Breaking Bad roles in the new AMC spinoff Better Call Saul. Paul has been in talks to come back as Jesse Pinkman in the lawyer focussed prequel starring Bob Odenkirk. Casting for the new show started on Feb 28 and production on the new series will start in May.