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.
Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in for a great bit of Friday night TV.
- Ken Jeong – Ken
- Albert Tsai – Dave
- Suzy Nakamura – Allison Park
- Krista Marie Yu – Molly
- Tisha Campbell-Martin – Damona
- Jonathan Slavin – Clark
- Dave Foley – Pat
Guest starring Jonathan Banks as Dr. Erwin
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