All pictures courtesy of ABC unless otherwise stated
On Dr. Ken, Ken Jeong plays a doctor who, from what I can tell, is a general practitioner. While he doesn't have his own practice, he works in a private in- and outpatient treatment clinic somewhere in California I believe it was, though I have to admit locale details were sparse. He's quite rude to his patients who, in return, are rude to him and don't often pay attention to his diagnosis. This is evidenced by the first episode in which a man comes in and believes (read: self-diagnoses) that he has a few hemorrhoids which would quickly pass. He gets into a back and forth with Ken where the good doctor tells him he actually should have a colonic and that there could be something else wrong with him than booty bumps. As the man learns at the end of the episode, he listens to Dr. Ken and goes to have the flush-out, finding non-malignant polyps inside of him. Though he complained enough to have Dr. Ken potentially fired, in the end the doctor proved right and helped to save his life.
Dr. Ken has a mix of coworkers who all seem a little off and help to add to the comedy. You first have prime time sitcom vet Tisha Campbell-Martin who viewers will remember from her stints on 90s hit comedy Martin and early aughts gone-too-soon comedy My Wife and Kids. Head nurse, she plays on the same comedic wavelength as Ken sometimes, daring to go over-the-top with her outlandishness. Her experience and the amount of funny she brings to the cast is nice to see.
Next is the secondary doctor in Ken's small posse of friends. Dr. Julie (first names for everybody!) is the perky, I-just-love-my-job-because-I'm-helping-so-many-people type. Again, no specialty given, I suppose she, too, is a general practitioner. Her voice is high and chirpy like a Tweety bird and though she is dark-haired, she plays the role of the ditsy blonde. Though the actress playing her has a fair amount of credits to her name, she hasn't hit big on anything yet and can still be considered a fairly new comer on the scene. Her character is fluff, the Phoebe from friends of the group. As a side note, you know I had a mental lapse and had to look up Lisa Kudrow's character name on Friends on IMDb--Happy 25th Birthday IMDb--and guess what they didn't have as her four big "most known for" roles.
Next, we have Hector. Hector is played by another comedy veteran who has been seen in bit roles and character roles ever since back when he had a full head of hair. Check just about any NBC or ABC canceled comedy in the last decade and he's been on it at some point, not to say that he is bad luck or the reason these things get canned. Hector is Dr. Ken's designated nurse working side-by-side with him. He thinks of Dr. Ken as his work husband and a big deal is made of their friendship on the second episode when he turns from Ken after not receiving the proper recognition he believed he deserved for becoming a registered nurse. If he wasn't good in his role, people wouldn't keep hiring him.
While the supporting cast at work is good, the one at home matches if not surpasses it. Married to an Asian woman who is a psychologist or therapist or psychiatrist (not really sure), they live in a near palatial home. They have two children, a girl and a boy. The girl gets her license the first episode causing the overly protective and controlling Ken to freak out about her whereabouts. In the end, he learns a lesson when his daughter doesn't attend a rave like he thought she did. Her name being Molly, he gets arrested by an undercover cop when his searching for his daughter is mistaken for him trying to buy the drug. Laughs and hugs all around when he realized that he had to let his daughter grow up to be a woman which meant allowing her a little more freedom.
His wife, played by Suzy Nakamura who has been on the fringe of the spotlight for years now and has surely been "that one Asian woman from that thing" on more than a few occasions both brings an understated comedy to the show (she does have to play the straight man to her husband's foolery) and maintains a sense of warmth and realism not seen since, dare I say it Clair Huxtable. She's not neurotic, doesn't come off as a desperately oversensitive mom that wants the approval of the cool label, though in the second episode she is intimidated by Ken's parents when they visit. In a rather humorous twist, the parents bond with her and the children when they hear their son is late to dinner every night because of having to attend a sensitivity course assigned after Hector files a patient complaint for the whole RN diss. The parents wholly agree with their daughter-in-law's assessment that Ken is overly angry much of the time. They even add their own source of laughter after visiting, his overuse of the qualifying phrase, "as a doctor."
The third episode dealt with a small issue of helicopter parenting/teaching your child to stand up for himself. Called names at school, it is Allison (his wife's name) who tries to defend her son. Their son seems to be a little slow or just all around goofy similar to the character played by most young kids these days. They're supposedly always out of touch with their own feelings and life in general as the boy doesn't know how he feels about the new nickname he is given. Dr. Ken deals with his own separation from the crowd at work when he earns a better parking spot and weekends off as a senior staff member who puts in excellent work. Both issues are resolved when Ken fights for the rights of his colleagues and Allison takes on a nickname from the bullying preteens herself, thereby distracting them long enough to return to calling her son his proper name.
What's my grade? I give it a solid B leaning toward B+. It's not going to be anything you haven't seen before if you've been watching TV for 20-30 years, or even 10 years. But it is a nice change of pace from the influx of one-camera comedies with no laugh tracks that Bernie Mac started way back in the day. It's filled with doctor-patient humor that I'm sure plenty of people will identify with, albeit on the wrong side sometimes (most of Ken's patients self-diagnose and stray from his treatment regimen). The wife is allowed to be a woman with an identity separate from her children and husband which is also refreshing. This may sound racist but I hope they bring more of their own ethnic experiences into the comedy as Fresh Off The Boat and Blackish do. Ken can really open it up with the over-the-topness on the racial subject matter, though I know how tiresome this can be for any ethnicity. ABC has been desperately trying to bring back TGIF when in the 90s they had Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Step-by-Step and Full House. I can say I think this is another solid step in the right direction.
Should you be watching? Again, with comedies it is always up to you. With the solid B score and ratings that are quite good for a Friday at 8:30, I would say that yes you should be watching. Tim Allen as his lead-in, the two shows are just different enough humor-wise for you to enjoy them both. If you have a family not embroiled in Friday night lights of any sport or extracurricular activities and you aren't using it as your Netflix and chill night with your significant other or just to catch up on your DVR, then I say give this show two to three episodes to impress you. It probably won't garner your attention every week, but it should give you a few good chuckles.
What do you think? Will Dr. Ken see you as his next patient--erm, viewer? Have you seen the show? If so, which area do you think is funnier, his work life or his home life? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).
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Until next time, “ha ha ha ha ha! It's funny because he's fat."
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