Dr. Ken: Ken and the Basketball Star – A Shot to the Heart (Review)

KEN JEONG

In keeping with a theme of mixing a bit of tragedy with the ensemble comedy on offer via Dr. Ken “Ken and the Basketball Star” steps up to the plate and hits a home run. (Yes we are aware that there has been a mixing of sport’s metaphors here.)  It was pointed out quite clearly in the first season that Ken is a huge basketball fan.

With last week’s emphasis on Ken’s job and the more serious moments hidden amongst the mundane, this episode looks at Dr. Ken having to break news to a patient that is more than a little life changing.  The fact that the patient is a teenager makes the diagnosis all the more upsetting.

The Story:

Molly is studying with high school basketball star Danny Willis. The kid comes into the Park kitchen and Ken is beside himself. He is so excited that he tells Dave off for embarrassing him in front of the star.

Later Molly calls Ken at work and asks if he can look at Danny’s ankle, he injured it at practice. Since this could keep the boy from playing in the big game, Ken says yes.

After the exam, Ken tells the delighted teen and his parents that playing in the big game will not be a problem. When Ken goes to shake Danny’s hand  he notices something and starts asking the athlete some questions.

Another exam takes place and this time the news is not good. Danny has marfan syndrome. The star athlete could literally drop dead on the court in the middle of a game. Willis’ parents are outraged at the diagnosis initially, until Ken reveals that the medical tests have proven him right.

Danny, quite wisely, opts out of playing basketball and instead plans to become a doctor.

The main storyline focused upon Ken’s love of the sport and his hero-worship of the athletes who make the game exciting. It also allowed us to see, again, that underneath the jokes and OTT behavior, Ken is still a doctor who cares.

While the Danny Willis story played out, there were other smaller plot threads in the show. One dealt with Allison’s bonding with Pat and, to a lesser degree, with Damona over a mutual love of good cappuccino.

This made for some splendid comic moments. Not just from the topic of conversation, Allison revealing some of Ken’s humorous moments at home, but also from Damona.

TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, SUZY NAKAMURA

Damona and Allison sneak into Pat’s office to drink cappuccino and the receptionist’s reaction when they are caught is brilliant.

The other storyline featured Connor who in this episode moves in with Clark. The newly engaged couple have some teething pains caused by both men being a bit set in their ways.

Of course Clark being Clark reacts with some OTT histrionics and Connor responds with a more grownup attitude. These two are, it seems, a perfect match and they are brilliant together.

Standout Moments:

The Ken wearing Dave’s pajamas story.

“You’re embarrassing me in front of Danny Willis.”

“Armageddon!”

Damona blaming Allison in Pat’s office.

“I stayed with Pat a whole extra month for that coffee…”

Dave and his face paint, along with cheering at inappropriate moments.

Ken leaping on the cheerleader’s bus.

Allison and Pat making up over cappuccinos.

Clark and Connor cuddling and the pillow.

Final thoughts:

D.K. has been missing for a couple of episodes and we miss him. While we may be sad that Dana Lee is not in every single episode, the show continues to deliver, almost flawlessly,  a perfect mix of humor with just a touch of the old lump inducing sentimental moments that make this series a special experience.

This year has seen the loss of a favorite character, Dr. Julie,  and the introduction of Eric and Connor. Dana Lee’s grandfatherly presence has been greatly increased and the remaining members of the cast are being allowed to widen their characters’  horizons.

Tisha Campbell-Martin, Suzy Nakamura (a personal favorite since that hysterical cameo in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Albert Tsai, Krista Marie Yu, Dave Foley and Jonathan Slavin continue to fill their characters with moments of truth.

They also manage to effortlessly work together as one of the best ensemble casts on television.  The comedy works each week and every single player gets “a moment.” Even in an episode like this one, where both Ken and his patient get a “shot to the heart,” the players all have a chance to shine.

Dr. Ken is still the best thing about Friday nights.  This series can make the most downbeat day end with a smile. Tune in and see what we mean.

DAVE FOLEY, SUZY NAKAMURA
Dave Foley and Suzy Nakamura and that espresso machine…

Cast:

Guest starring Zak Henri as Danny Willis.

Dr Ken: A Day in the Life – Art Coming Close to Life (Review)

KEN JEONG

Dr. Ken “A Day in the Life” may come the closest to mirroring star Ken Jeong’s real life than any other episode thus far. In it, art comes close to telling his true story, not the dissatisfaction that Dr. Park feels in the episode, but the feeling he has that comedy, aka performing, is his true calling.

The show has always been a thinly disguised version of Ken Jeong’s life. In real life, Ken has two children and a wife that is also a medical professional. Ken also worked as a stand-up comic, while attending college and he continued this as he pursued a career in acting.

Ken has said that the show is a fictionalized account of his life and his character of Ken Park could almost be seen as an alter-ego of the performer himself. This episode has an old pal from Community, Ken has worked a number of these folks into his show, Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays a documentary filmmaker who is filming a day in Welltopia.

Dr. Ken is chosen to be the doctor that she and her camera man shadow throughout the day. For Ken, whose birthday falls on the same day that the documentary follows him around, it feels as though everything is perfect.

Excited, full of good humor and many jokes; the doctor who wants to be a stand-up comic feels that all his birthdays have come at once. The show is ostensibly about Ken’s dilemma; worrying that he may well be unhappy with his “day job.” Dr. Ken is, however,  an ensemble show. The episode also shows us a lot about the rest of the  gang down at Welltopia.

Throughout the day, the camera crew of one, catches many personal and revealing moments at the Welltopia filming. Even the Park kids, who are invited to “stop by,” get a couple of “moments” on camera.

Apart from Ken having a “crisis of faith,” which then turns into an epiphany, brought about by a patient who stops breathing in the waiting room, we get a chance to see some touching, and interesting moments.

We learn that Clark is actually jealous of Allison’s presence at the clinic. His role of “job-wife” has been threatened. At one point, he tells Amy (Brown), somewhat gushingly, that he has baked Ken’s favorite birthday cake; carrot.

Later, Allison, the kids, Damona and Pat all bring in another cake to present to Ken. The camera catches Clark’s disappointment and his retreat with his cake.

Damona, on fine form as she attacks the magazine thieving patients in the waiting room, is actually upset about a text she found on Eric’s phone. She confronts him and he gets overly defensive. Damona cries on Pat’s shoulder.

We learn, somewhat unsurprisingly, that the chemistry between Damona and Pat is still potent and simmering just under the surface of the former lovers. Later, Pat tells Amy about the zucchini muffins that he used to bring in for Damona.

Towards the end of the episode, Pat brings one in for Damona. Just as he is about to present the muffin, Eric comes in and apologizes to his girlfriend. Damona excitedly gives Pat a “thumb’s up” and the hospital administrator smiles and returns the gesture.

The look Pat gives the documentary camera is one of misery and disappointment. It is all too revealing and ultimately very touching.

Dave proves to the documentary maker that he knows more about her business than she does. Molly shows that she still has what it takes to get the college of her choice and Allison really is one step away from the Tin Man in front of the camera. “Oil can…”

YVETTE NICOLE BROWN, KEN JEONG, JONATHAN SLAVIN

Just as revealing is Ken’s over-exuberance in front of the camera, and Amy’s confused reaction to it. As the episode progresses, Ken’s enthusiasm wanes. He begins to realize that as the “front-line” of medicine, his job is often boring.

By the end of the episode, we are given a montage of scenes with the entire group of characters. Clark is seen with Ken who has two pieces of cake, his family’s and Clark’s carrot cake. Other scenes give some sort of “closures” to the events accidentally caught on camera.

This episode of Dr. Ken deviates from the season two formula. It moves away from the familial theme, just a little, and concentrates on Ken’s “work family” and Ken himself.

Amid the humor on offer, “Can you validate my parking ticket” the episode  gives us a momentary glimpse into what really makes Ken Park tick. Certainly the doctor wants to be a comic and entertain the masses but deep down, he realizes that saving lives, even via the mundanity of day to day medicine, is important.

The work of his team to bring the dead patient back to life reminds him that what he does at Welltopia is important after all.

“A Day in the Life” is another “Dicky Wexler” episode. It gave us a look at the heart of Ken Park. It also allowed the character to, at one point, realize that he does not like the unexciting aspects of his career.

Kudos to Yvette Nicole Brown for knocking this one out of the park. This comedic actress managed to do more with an expression than most performers can with their entire bodies. Those eyebrows and that look in those eyes spoke volumes.

Dr. Ken continues to be the best thing about Friday nights on television. As the series progresses we learn more about each of the characters and it makes them more endearing and real.

(On a sidenote: Connor has been missing over the last two episodes. After his proposal to Clark, the man has been on a hiatus. Hopefully he and Clark will be back together soon.)

Dr. Ken airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in and bliss out at this funny, touching comedy.

Cast:

Guest starring Yvette Nicole Brown as Amy.

Dr Ken: Ken’s New Intern – True Love (Recap/Review)

SUZY NAKAMURA, KEN JEONG, GILLIAN JACOBS

Dr. Ken returns after its mid-season break with “Ken’s New Intern.” As with each episode of Dr Ken  there is a message hidden in all that comedy. This week it appears to be that true love will always win out and that self acceptance may well be the key to real happiness.

D.K. continues to play matchmaker for Molly and Jae. The path to true love runs a tad bumpy, as the barber’s grandson does not text Molly back after their date.

Ken gets a new intern, Erin. She seems to be very drawn to Ken, much to Allison’s dismay and Damona unleashes those pipes again and this time her singing leads to an unwelcome trip down memory lane.

The episode starts at a karaoke bar where Damona impresses Eric and the rest of the Welltopia crew with her singing. Ken has to follow and he tries to get Allison to trade spots with him.

Ken starts singing and Damona leaves saying she does not like this song. Eric starts to go after her and Clark stops him. He tells him about how in high school Damona went briefly into professional music and how it ended  badly for her.

Clark then explains that Ken is singing a song from the very album that Damona sang on. However, when the the music video came out, they had someone lip syncing to Damona’s voice and she never got credit for the song.

Eric is upset for his girlfriend and Pat realizes that he lost his virginity to Damona’s voice. When Damona’s fella decides she should get credit Clark tells him that she has no interest in pursuing that particular line.

At Welltopia Pat introduces Ken to Erin, his new intern. The new doc on the block is taken with Ken immediately; she thinks he is hysterically funny.  The intern lets rip with earsplitting peals of laughter each time Ken makes a joke.

Damona and Clark are flummoxed but the new intern’s behavior. Erin is very “touchy feely” and after a few moments of her “making contact” with Ken, he distracts her and runs off.

D.K. quizes Molly on her date with Jae. After a little hesitation, Molly tells her grandpa that it went well and that she really likes Jae. D.K. starts gloating on his success at setting the two up. Molly then explains that despite having a “great time” Jae has not texted her once.

“Not even the three dots that means he’s sending something and then decides not to send it!”

D.K. offers to investigate and Molly is hesitant at first until she suggests that if her grandpa happens to go into Jae’s grandfather’s barber shop to gather some intel…But he has to be discrete.

Since he has just gotten a haircut, D.K. decides to take Dave to get a trim and to gather information about Jae.

Ken rushes home to talk to Allison about his new flirty intern.

“She thinks I’m funny and she touched my arm.”

Allison soothes a ruffled Ken and tells him not to worry. She tells him that the new staff member has “Intern Goggles.” Ken is amazed that Allison seems to be “cool” with the whole thing. She reminds him that he is the “jealous one.”

Eric stops by Welltopia to talk to Clark when Damona is at lunch. He has learned that C&C Music Factory, the producers who treated Damona so badly earlier will be at the casino.

Clark and Pat both tell Eric that it is a really bad idea to push Damona into something she does not want to do. Eric finally talks her two co-workers into getting into the casino.

Allison actually catches Erin in action. The intern spits out her latte when Ken tells her a joke that no one laughs at. She tells a concerned Damona that Erin’s behavior is not bothering her at all as the new intern is  all over Ken.

D.K. and Dave return from the barbershop with bad news. It looks like Jae may not be interested because of his parents. Dave is annoyed that he was tricked into getting a haircut under false pretenses.

Damona, Eric, Clark and Pat all go to the casino and she is not pleased that they set her up. Damona storms off and Clark tells Eric to give her some space.

Ken gets too used to Erin’s attention and Allison gets concerned, and jealous, that she goes all out to seduce Ken at home.  Allison gets rid of the kids and sends D.K. grocery shopping. Unfortunately her plans go slightly awry when D.K. keeps coming back to ask questions.

Finally the two talk and Ken tells Allison that she has nothing to worry about. He realizes all too well that she is the only person who “gets” him.

Back at the Casino Damona confronts the music publisher and the singer who “synced” her voice on the video. They get into a singing duel and Damona wins by scoring the most applause from the casino customers. She then thanks Eric for giving her closure.

Molly finds out that Jae really does like her and  wants her for his girlfriend. D.K. tells the young man to make sure he texts Molly properly, “and not just dots either.”

Ken’s new intern comes in to tell him goodbye as she has to leave. He thinks it is because she has a thing for him and Erin explains she is just rotating out as part of her shift. She then starts to say something and leaves.

Memorable Moments:

Damona’s Lady Marmalade duel.

Ken’s “Everybody dance now!”

Molly and D.K. at the end of the episode.

Molly and Jae’s first kiss and then their second.

D.K. interrupting the second kiss.

D.K.’s matchmaking.

Ken and Erin.

Allison and Ken on the sofa with D.K’s shopping trip questions.

Dave’s annoyance at being duped into helping Molly with Jae.

Pat’s losing his virginity to Damona’s voice…in his 30’s.

Ken running from Erin.

Allison’s inadvertent compliment to Ken during their “talk.”

Final Thoughts:

Jacobs and Ken were brilliant together. Their chemistry, obviously left over from working together on Community was spot on. The little “co-worker” crush “misunderstanding was hysterically funny.

Kudos to Gillian Jacobs for knocking it out of the park with her flirtatious actions and slightly ambiguous exit at the end.

Dana Lee and Krista Marie Yu are still magical together as the new double act on the show.  Suzy Nakamura effortlessly goes from grown up to worried wife and proves yet again that she and Ken Jeong are the perfect couple on telly.

Tisha Campbell-Martin still manages to provoke chills with that voice. That lady  has got pipes for days. 

Jonathan Slavin and Albert Tsai both continue to make their comedic work appear effortless and Dave Foley shines as usual.

Ken Jeong and his talented ensemble continue to be the best thing about Friday nights. Dr. Ken is great fun and something that all the family can enjoy.  Do not miss this show.

Cast:

Guest starring Gillian Jacobs as Erin.

Dr Ken: Ken’s Apology – All’s Well That Ends Well (Review)

 KEN JEONG, BOB CLENDENIN

Dr. Ken this week shares an important message in its usual dose of comedy. “Ken’s Apology” takes a look at Ken’s professional standing against the backdrop of a well-intentioned but annoying D.K. who attempts to challenge Dave. While D.K. may have struck out in the academic arena, he fares much better as matchmaker to Molly.

The tie-in between Ken’s lack of attention to Allison’s reminders and list of grievances against D.K. and his mistake at work was nigh on perfect. The bottom line is one that points out the clear difference between Ken and other medicos in that Park cares deeply about his patients.

“Ken’s Apology” also takes a moment to show how callous the business of medicine can be when corporations forget that they are dealing with people. Granted, America is the land of “The Big Lawsuit” and the patient whose bloodwork was incorrectly assessed did, initially, what comes naturally to those who feel they have been wronged by the system.

As Pat says at one point in the episode, it is a case of, “All’s well that ends well.” After Ken manages to give his heartfelt apology to Mr. Hubert, via the device of slapping a full glass of beer from the patient’s hand, the lawsuit is dropped.

While this may be a tad “pie in the sky” it speaks volumes for Ken Jeong’s character, a loose version of the real Dr. Jeong, who is not above bucking the system to make his point. The doctor believes that patients are people who deserve apologies when they are merited.

Because of this attitude and his stubborn refusal to toe the corporate line, we love Ken that  bit more.  We definitely respect his stance and it is this part of Park that obviously drew Allison to him all those years ago.

 DANA LEE
Dana Lee, it was the smile…

The comedy this week came mainly from Dana Lee’s interfering “father in the house” role.  It works well as D.K. really is attempting to help things along. He buys the crunchy peanut butter that Allison loathes because it is better value. Creamy peanut butter has no nuts, D.K. argues.

He also believes that Dave is not challenged enough in school. He tries to have his grandson moved up a grade. Allison steps in and explains that will not happen. D.K. tells her that Ken was moved up and she then tells her father-in-law that Ken was uncomfortable with the move.

While Dave is not overly thrilled with this outcome, Molly actually benefits from D.K.’s interference. She meets the barber’s grandson and approves of this Korean guy “with the bad boy vibe.” Dave tells the young man he is wasting his time, “She really wants to focus on her grades in college,” he says.

The storyline in this episode managed to re-emphasise Ken at home versus Ken at work.  It also points out why the dynamic between Allison and Ken meshes so perfectly.  In the Park household, she is the adult. A voice of reason and the one who “pays attention,” to the minutiae.

Ken will react when forced to, but he allows Allison to be the grownup as do the kids.  He also allows his father to have a say in family issues precisely because D.K. is still his “father-figure.”

This season  D.K. is becoming a functioning part of the family.  He has now moved past fixing things that are broken and is trying to help in ways that are, overall, less appreciated.  He is also choosing to be a tad secretive by not revealing what the hole in the back garden is for.

Clearly D.K. has something up his sleeve.

Clark and Damona were less centerstage this week but lost nothing in the scheme of things. Damona’s revealing that Pat’s twitchy eye signalled he meant business, or needed to pee, was hysterical.  Clark’s “Preach, preach,” was equally funny.

Standout Moments:

Allison’s excitement at creamy peanut butter.

KEN JEONG, SUZY NAKAMURA
Creamy peanut butter love…

Molly’s reaction to D.K.’s matchmaking choice.

The entire D.K. and Dave in school interaction.

D.K.’s “smile.”

Ken’s “apology.”

Pat’s “non-apology.”

Dave’s reaction to skipping a grade, “here ya go kid, I won’t be needing this where I’m going.”

Final Thoughts:

Dr. Ken is still the best ensemble comedy show on television.  Each week the series manages not only to tickle the audience’s funny bone, but also makes them think.  Certainly the show is all about family this year, but Ken Jeong and his writers still manage to sneak in a touch of the professional aspect of the Park’s as well.

Dana Lee is still knocking it out of the park with his depiction of D.K. and Dave Foley is delicious as the administrator who straddles the fence when forced to take a stand.

Albert Tsai, with that cheeky grin, manages to get laughs almost effortlessly when interacting with Krista Marie Yu and later with Dana Lee. The lad emits comic sincerity from every pore.

ALBERT TSAI

Dr. Ken is the highlight of Friday night television. A family friendly show that everyone can enjoy. Detractors obviously do not “get it.” For those we recommend a medical check-up to fix that dodgy lack of humor.

Cast:

Guest starring Bob Clendenin as Mr. Hubert and Ryan Michelle Bathe as Dave’s teacher..

Dr Ken: D K’s New Girlfriend – Bonding (Review)

DANA LEE, KEN JEONG

Dr. Ken this week sees the Park family and friends bonding in a different way.  “D.K.’s New Girlfriend” sees  Pat bonding with Dave, Allison bonding with Molly and Ken re-bonding with his father.  It also sees Clark and Damona bonding with new colleague Allison.

Love in the Afternoon:

Ken gets into an argument with his father when he and Allison return home to find D.K. having a spot of romance with his girlfriend Linda. Awkwardness ensues when the couple find D.K.’s clothes and his girlfriend’s bra in the front room. The lovers emerge from the downstairs guest room, much to the embarrassment of all. (Except Linda.)

Everything between Ken and his father becomes stressful when it emerges that D.K. overhears Allison complaining about his still living in the house. As Ken tries to explain about boundaries, D.K. gets angry and moves out of the Park house and into Linda’s apartment.

Allison and Molly try to enjoy a little mother / daughter special time at a local spa. Clark and Damona “spa crash” the establishment, much to Allison’s initial annoyance.

Dave, Pat and Ken attend a local jazz club. The music is definitely not Ken’s cup of tea and Pat agrees to stay with Dave to heard the rest of the jazz band’s set.  Pat gets “lucky” when single parent Megan zeros in on what she believes to be another single parent.

Pat lies and says that Dave is his adoptive son and the youngest Park kid agrees to go along. There is one proviso, however.  No more “burns.” The two try to pull the wool over Megan’s eyes but Pat blows it when he tries to persuade Dave to eat shrimp.

Megan gets upset when Pat ignores the fact that Dave is deathly allergic to shrimp and their ruse falls apart. Meanwhile, Allison learns that Molly is growing up and that, despite the annoyances of working at Welltopia, the family are grateful that they can see more of their mother.

Ken apologizes to D.K. and asks him to return the house. Ken’s father reveals that he is at a loss.  D.K. tells his son that he never imagined himself having to live with his son in his mid 70’s.

By the end of the episode, D.K. is back in the Park house and Dave reveals that he would welcome Ken to live with him.

Standout Moments:

D.K.’s “Bus-ted.”

Ken’s “hippy tea.”

Allison’s mammoth moan session with Molly.

Ken’s “lead on the bra” line.

Dave and Pat’s entire luncheon at the Jazz club and Megan.

Clark and Damona full stop.

Clark’s callous call.

D.K.’s “late life crisis explanation.”

Dave with his jazz sounds, a’la Pat.

Final Thoughts:

Dr. Ken continues to up the stakes in terms of storyline and cast performances.  Dana Lee provided a well delivered mix of comedy and pathos. Ken Jeong proved yet again that his comedy comes from the heart and that the Jonathan Slavin / Tisha Campbell-Martin double act can work anywhere.

Albert Tsai killed it this week in his scenes with Dave Foley (who always knocks it out of the park) and the ensemble worked like a well oiled comedic machine.

The second season has allowed for more tragedy tinged comedy over all. D.K.’s lament was enough to raise thicken the throat and cause those tear ducts to overflow just a little.

By putting an emphasis on the extended family, present and future, the show makes its comedy feel that little bit richer and truthful.  There is, in most families, a juxtaposition of roles as the unit ages.

Parent’s suddenly begin acting more like children and vice versa. This has been a theme in the series this year. D.K.’s New Girlfriend just changed the usual players to Ken and his father instead of the younger Park family members and their parents.

Dr. Ken continues to get the mix just right in terms of comedy with a side of seriousness. The message, dutifully delivered each week, is that family matters, regardless of age, location or temperament.

The series airs Fridays on ABC. Tune in and check out this family fun show.

Cast:

Guest starring Gillian Vikman as Megan and Cheryl Bricker as Linda.