TV Review - Dr. Ken

The obvious comparison to Fresh Off the Boat is or isn't there. The two shows are on the same network. They're both sitcoms. They're both about families and working parents. They're both predominantly Asian in the cast. Whereas Fresh Off the Boat leans more toward Malcolm in the Middle, this show leans more toward The Mindy Project. It stars Ken Jeong (Community) as a doctor who juggles his abrasive personality at work with his neuroses at home.

Written by Jared Stern, Ken Jeong and Mike O'Connell with co-creator John Fox, the show feels like a carbon copy of Cristela, the sitcom that this show essentially replaced on Friday nights. It's the typical, multi-camera setup where Jeong is usually at the center being annoyed by his patients or being slightly frustrated by his family.

The pilot episode is a bit of a light-weight, easing into the characters and the dynamics. The comedy is rather tame. The only true funny moment is when Jeong's character Dr. Ken Park admits to his wife that he's having an affair in order to cover up that he's actually stalking his daughter with a smart phone app. It was delivered very well by Jeong who could be a good anchor here if he's given good material.

Suzy Nakamura also needs to be given good material. Right now, she's just the wife. She's not her own person, worthy of watching independent of her husband, unlike Constance Wu in Fresh Off the Boat. I don't need Nakamura to be the Tiger Mom that is Wu's character, but it would be nice to have her be something distinguishable.

Albert Tsai plays Ken's prepubescent son Dave. Tsai had a guest role on Fresh Off the Boat last season. His brief appearance there gave him better material as well. He's given a funny thing to do in the pilot, but it feels like such an after-thought. The real focus is on Krista Marie Yu who plays Ken's teenage daughter Molly. She's pretty much a stereotype but revealed to have a little more to her.

At Ken's place of work, the Welltopia Medical Group, there are supporting actors, which seem like stereotypes too as opposed to being distinguishable or fully-formed characters. This is fine. Most shows even Fresh Off the Boat does the same.

It's fine for characters like registered nurse Clark, played by Jonathan Slavin, whose character may or may not be gay. Yet, for characters like Damona, played by Tisha Campbell-Martin, it's a bit weird. Campbell-Martin is a great actress who has been the co-lead on several sitcoms prior to this. She has such a small role here that it's almost offensive.

Episode 4, however, has Will Yun Lee guest star. Will Yung Lee plays a Korean-American adopted by Irish parents. His character is named Kevin O'Connell. Ken's character is jealous and insecure about Kevin's extreme handsomeness, and because of which the episode did have a great line where Ken says that Kevin is the "Korean Channing Tatum."

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG-L.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Fridays at 8:30 on ABC.


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