Dr Ken: Allison’s Career Move – Wah (Recap/Review)

ALBERT TSAI, KRISTA MARIE YU, SUZY NAKAMURA, KEN JEONG

It is all change this season on Dr. Ken. In “Allison’s Career Move” the other Dr. Park makes a life changing decision, Molly learns her SAT results and Dr. Julie is nowhere to be seen. Clark has issues with his fella and  Ken’s father moves in with the family again.

This episode was paced a little differently and featured more about the immediate Park family. Although Jonathan Slavin’s bit with his significant other was brilliantly funny.  Once again  Slavin and Campbell-Martin work well off one another. Although to be fair, Tisha’s character and Pat still carry the mantle for almost perfect comic duo.

At the start of the episode Ken works in his Laugh Factory appearance with a patient and then tells the man to leave the jokes to him. Shortly afterward Ken imitates Allison being unhappy with her current job situation “Wah.”

Clark asks if Ken is commiserating  with,  or making fun of,  Allison. Ken goes on to explain that the commute is too long and other complaints that his wife has trotted out.

Pat is intrigued. He suggests that Allison comes to work at the hospital on the Looney Wing. Clark immediately protests that Pat’s remark is cruel.  The hospital administrator responds indignantly saying that if the Looney family left all their money to the wing, he would use their name.

Classic.

Meanwhile, Molly learns that her SAT scores were abysmal and she worries that her parents, “who put all their hopes and dreams into me; no offense,” will be devastated. Dave reassures  his big sister, “Well at least you’re pretty.”

ALBERT TSAI, KRISTA MARIE YU

He then tells Molly that he will sort the problem out until she can retest.  Later Ken fixes the kids sandwiches; PBJs, and instead of peanut butter, he has to use Reese’s Pieces.

Allison come home late and grabs one of Ken’s sandwiches. Hungrily taking a bite she tastes the Reese’s Pieces. Ken says he is sorry but they are out of peanut butter. Allison replies, “Don’t you ever apologize for putting candy in a sandwich.”

She then gets Pat’s voicemail offering her the position at the hospital. Ken is worried but Allison laughs at the idea of working in the same place as her husband.

At Welltopia Damona tries to help Clark discover what Connor does for a living. Pat tells Ken that despite offering a brilliant employment package   Allison will not accept the job.

In an instant reversal, Ken is upset that his wife has turned down what is turning into an excellent opportunity and he interrupts her yoga class. “Allison, our marriage is in trouble!”

Clark finally takes Damona’s advice and confesses to his lover that he has no idea what he  does at the office.  Connor does not react well, he leaves.  Clark is beyond distraught.

Back at the Park house, Ken proves he is smarter than an 11 year old and has found out that Molly’s SAT scores are bad. He and Molly share  a moment and everything works out fine, although Dave destroyed his magazine.

At work, Ken is busy doing his Allison impression, “Wah, I can’t work around you Ken, wah.” She comes in and catches him out. She then  admits that the job offer is too good to ignore. Her continued refusal forced Pat to  up the offer and she now earns more than Ken.

The couple make it through the issue and as they congratulate themselves on a job well done, D.K. comes in with a suitcase. “Your mother is in Korea for the rest of the year. I live here now.”  Ken queries this and is told to check his voicemails. (The ones he told Allison earlier that he deleted.)

Standout Moments:

The candy sandwich line gag. Not once, but twice.

Clark and Damona’s “No boyfriend in two years.”

Molly and Dave full stop.

Wah.

The return of Dana Lee.

Final thoughts:

Dr. Julie (Kate Simses) was conspicuous in her absence and, as a personal favorite,  was sorely missed. However, the season opener was funny, well paced and had a job related theme that was good fun.

JONATHAN SLAVIN, STEPHEN GUARINO

Clark’s cluelessness about Connor’s job and Allison’s dissatisfaction with her self employed status were the key factors here. “And everyone has a different insurance company.”

Suzi Nakamura and Ken Jeong may just be the perfect TV couple. They each bring so much to the table in terms of comedy performance. The chemistry is still there, from last season, and their interactions are smooth, funny and touching….in all the right places.

Dr. Ken is still the highlight of a Friday evening.  This is a good natured comedy that features one hell of an ensemble cast. While it looks at things from a humorous perspective, the show comes right back to family, both at home and at the workplace.

The series airs Fridays on ABC.  Tune in and get your “giggle on.”

Cast:

Guest starring  Dana Lee as D.K. and Stephen Guarino as Connor.

Fresh Off the Boat vs Dr Ken

RANDALL PARK, FORREST WHEELER, CONSTANCE WU, HUDSON YANG, IAN CHEN

After seeing Randall Park in The Interview it is understood that this performer knows the nuances of comedy and comic performances. His “President Kim” was brilliant and a perfect counterpoint to James Franco and Seth Rogen as Skylark and his producer.  Watching the new season of Fresh Off the Boat, Park proves that he can deliver  comedy on the small screen as well.

However, the series seems a little flat compared to Dr Ken. Whether this is a case of “Taiwanese” fish out of water humor not working as well as Ken Jeong’s US (with a “Korean” cast) gags or just the disjointed performances of the youth heavy cast from “Boat”  is not clear.  Curiously enough, on IMDb, the Park show is highly rated at 8.1 percent and Dr. Ken is only 5.3.  This disparity is interesting and raises the question of why one is deemed more popular than the other.

On the face of it, Park himself could be the main draw , what with his recent high profile appearance in the Rogen/Franco film (that the real life President Kim tried to stop from being shown). Ken Jeong’s last big film was Hangover III where he reprised his role as Mr. Chow. Although the actor did voice Short Fuse in the 2014 animated feature Penguins of Madagascar.

Fresh Off the Boat is funny. Although one does have to remember to “go back to the 1990s.” Otherwise the show feels odd rather than humorous.  Watching the “Halloween special” of Park’s show,  the gags work much better than in the first four episodes.  While Fresh Off the Boat does offer some insight into the Asian family unit, episode 204 reveals the tradition of looking after one’s parents as they get older, Dr Ken focuses more on humor that relates more to the funny bones located within the US borders.

Keeping to the Halloween theme, Dr Ken’s upcoming episode, “Halloween-Aversary” focuses on Ken’s botched marriage proposal 20 years previously to his wife.  It also deals with the office and a prank on Pat. The two shows, each with Asian casts, approach the holiday as differently as their shows approach the business of sitcom laughs and giggles.  The two sitcoms differ in other ways, Dr. Ken is filmed before an audience, whose reactions to the comedy “on screen” is heard during the show and Park’s sitcom is deathly quiet in comparison.

KATE SIMSES, DAVE FOLEY, TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, JONATHAN SLAVIN, KEN JEONG, SUZY NAKAMURA, ALBERT TSAI, KRISTA MARIE YU

Regardless of whether the laughs are “heard” or not the shows cannot be seen as “competition” as the humor is not the same at all. While the two sitcoms could be seen as having a common denominator of Asian casts, although from completely different areas, Taiwan vs Korea, the comedy is delivered from two polar opposite avenues. Of course the biggest difference between the two shows is that “Boat” is inspired by a “true story.”

Eddie Huang (played by Hudson Yang in the series) wrote the memoirs that inspired the show, although the restaurateur has publicly denounced the show. After hearing Huang’s complaint it does seem odd that his upbringing story would be made a comedy…

Fresh Off the Boat is a “fish out of water” scenario which could be filled with any “nationality” as the tale is a variation of  fitting into the new country along with the move from a urban environment to a suburban one.  Add to this mix the  focus on a family where the wife is a bit cold (who also has an anger management problem)  and the husband a little overly sentimental and both being from another country…The show is a little hit and miss.

It has to be said that the Halloween show is funny, and both Park and Constance Wu (as Jessica Huang) have some stand out moments.  The writing feels tighter in this episode and the gags more consistent.  Although, the whole premise is based upon Eddie Huang’s “life” the delivery does feel like an almost stereotypical sitcom template. 

Dr Ken, as seen from the press release plot description, could really fit any nationality and, like the rest of the show thus far, is much more American in humor despite its Korean stars.  Ken Jeong, who co-created the show, sees things differently than the creators of “Boat” and in his world, the fact of his heritage is not the highlight but is instead the nuance of his characters.

Last week’s episode of Dr Ken, where Pat decides to win his wife back by shooting his little toe with an airgun,  was genuinely funny and did not rely upon any Asian themes to sell it, just as the rest of the sitcom does not.

Both shows are funny in their own ways, although truth be told this viewer finds Dr Ken consistently hysterical (and would do so without the live audience reactions) and Fresh Off the Boat feels uneven, even without Eddie Huang’s vitriolic response to “his” show.

Dr Ken airs Fridays and Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and catch both of these very different sitcoms.