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 These child actors, which is, perhaps, an outdated term, do well with their parts and the lines as written.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.