Lucy Philips-Roberts ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
Whichever Neilsen family keeps watching multi-cam sitcoms needs to be ejected from the system, because the country deserves better. Dr. Ken, the new ABC comedy from Ken Jeong, draws from the actor’s pre-hollywood career as a physician. The show centers around Dr. Ken Park (Ken Jeong), who is a plucky doctor, his wife Dr. Allison Park (Suzy Nakamura) who is a therapist, and their two children Dave Park (Albert Tsai) and Molly Park (Krista Marie).
Right from the start, audiences get a good sense of Allison and Ken’s marriage and parenting style, which is very endearing. Allison wants to give their daughter more freedom, whereas Ken is weary of his newly-licensed spawn roaming the city without supervision. While this plot is somewhat conventional, it really showcases this family and couple well. This couple is also refreshing because Ken and Allison are almost the same age and can be judged similarly regarding their attractiveness. The trope of the ugly husband with a super-hot wife is dead, if Ken Jeong has anything to say about it. This couple is also extremely communicative throughout the episode. Even when Ken lies to his wife, it is really clear that she sees through it immediately. When it comes to parenting decisions, they make them together, rather than resting on the obvious deception storyline. The standout character, other than Allison, has to be the daughter, Molly. At first glance, Molly seems as if she is going to be the classic rebellious teen girl, which is also what her father thinks. However, it soon becomes clear that she is very responsible despite her “bad girl” friends. The bulk of this episode revolves around Ken learning that he can trust his daughter, and those are some really sweet moments in this show.
As far as actual comedy goes, the show has a relatively average sitcom style with a few winks. Meaning there are some moments where the viewer is practically expecting a character to turn to the camera and raise an eyebrow—somewhat corny, but still likable. The moments where the show addresses the many sitcom tropes head-on are very enjoyable. When Ken’s coworkers are blatantly eavesdropping on a conversation with their boss, Pat (Dave Foley), he quips “if you could just pretend to be busy while you listen in, that’d be super.” And right after a spiel about not wanting to hurt or damage his kids, Ken’s ignores his son’s invitation to see his mime act. Dr. Ken even references other television shows to point out examples of rebellious daughters. This serves to call out how there are so many repetitive shows out there.
Of course, Jeong is a fantastic performer. He is extremely physical, some might say, similar to a mime. But unfortunately his style is better suited to a smarter, quicker comedy. It is really unfair to compare a Dan Harmon show to a multi-cam sitcom. But still, Dr. Ken, the character, pales in comparison to Chang, from Community. The laugh out loud moments just are not there.
The shining stars of this pilot are the members of the supporting cast. Tisha Campbell-Martin, from My Wife and Kids, does a great job playing Damona, a nurse at the hospital. While, Jonathan Slavin, from the short-lived Better Off Ted, brings life to another nurse named Hector. And, of course, Dave Foley is a highlight as Pat. All of their scenes and interactions with Dr. Ken are very enjoyable.
Overall, this is a fine show if you like sitcoms and are looking for one that is somewhat self-aware.
Episode Grade: C+