Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 5: “Halloween-Aversary”
Original airdate October 30, 2015.
Symptoms: Ken and Allison tell their kids about the Halloween, twenty years ago, when Allison messed up Ken’s proposal. Realizing that this Halloween is a perfect chance for a do-over, Ken makes plans for an attempt to get it right. Julie accidentally dopes up Pat, and Molly gets into a little bit of trouble over a skeleton.
Diagnosis: A pretty fun episode, entertaining and silly in mostly good ways. The office stuff, while still a bit wacky and unbelievable, is at least bolstered by cute costumes, and Dr. Julie has some pretty endearing lines. I don’t know how, but Dave is beginning to win me over. I noticed a few episodes ago that while Ken and Allison laugh together very convincingly, their fighting lacks believability. It’s passionless, it doesn’t have the same familiarity as their laughing scenes, and the timing seems off. It’s true in this episode too, and while it doesn’t hurt the show much in this case, it’s evidence that even the strongest relationship in this series is still finding its space. I’m not giving letter grades on reviews of this series (only because I’m trying not to be lazy or fall into a reviewer’s rut), but if I were, this would get nice B-minus.
Prognosis: I wouldn’t have predicted this, but of the office staff, Julie is emerging as the gentle heart, the one who holds the subplots together and gets the best laughs. Kate Simses communicates a wide-eyed sincerity in the role, and if Julie is still more caricature than character, Simses at least has found a way to bring her along with some sense of realness. That’s quite an accomplishment considering some of the stupid things she’s made to say and do. And despite what surely sounds like my gushing over her, this is really about the show as a whole: we’re only five episodes in, and each episode finds a little bit of room to grow. I’m encouraged.
This is the first episode so far where I don’t think Ken and Allison’s relationship is developed further; in fact the entire family dynamic is about the same as it was last week, with the exception of Albert Tsai’s Dave finding a little bit of footing.
RX: My feelings about the office shananigans are unchanged, yet there is a glimmer of hope with Julie’s finding a groove. If we could just tone down the wackiness a little (please?) and boost the genuine humanness of the Welltopia crew, we could really be on to something lasting.
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While mobile health units are used in impoverished places like the slums of Mumbai to deliver health care to Asians there, they are also used to deliver health care to Asians in not so impoverished places – the companies of Silicon Valley. This article from Fortune points out that working in Silicon Valley can be bad for workers’ health as being poor can be in other places. Author Jeffrey O’Brien also stresses that while the Silicon Valley work lifestyle can be bad for everyone, it seems to be worse for Asian Americans, particularly if those Asian Americans are of South Asian descent. Exaggeration? Not to me, as many of the problems described have affected me as a Silicon Valley worker.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 5: “Miracle on Dead Street”
Original airdate October 27, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis and the boys are excited about their first Halloween in the suburbs, but Jessica doesn’t share their enthusiasm. Instead, she takes up arms in defense of the investment house she and Honey have renovated, as a group of teenaged boys have sworn to attack it with eggs on Halloween night.
Good: The costumes are adorable, especially Emery and Evan in a Silence of the Lambs combo. The Jessica vs. Teen Boys story goes a little overboard, but it touches on some interesting themes I haven’t seen in a family show, and it plays with certain power dynamics I find fascinating. I still can’t get enough of Jessica and Honey together; their friendship is a bond of alienation that feels bigger and stronger than the neighbors who pushed them to the fringe, and their interactions are great for character development. Oh, and Eddie dresses up as Humpty Hump from Digital Underground, one of my favorite hip-hop acts of all time.
Bad: Just the usual going too far off the edge with some of the gags. The A-Team themes are pretty funny, but they get a little wacky. The teen boys are way over the edge.
FOB moment: “Begging for candy in a disguise, to hide your shame? No thank you.”
Soundtrack flashback: “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by Geto Boys (1991).
Final grade, this episode: It’s a cute, fun episode, and it’s nice to see Eddie and his friends having nice, wholesome fun together. B.
I suppose it is fitting to talk about McDonald’s in Japan as it was the last stop before we headed back home Stateside, a sort of transition from Japan to America. I have pretty much removed McDonald’s from my dietary routine, for weigh cutting reasons and now for fair trade and sustainability purposes, but prior to this change, I always found it interesting to visit the local McDonald’s in different countries to see what they have that’s different than the local Los Angeles McDonald’s.
First thing is, they apparently deliver McDonald’s in Japan. Check out the McD’s deliver scooters above.
Next, portion size is different. One of my first memories of Japan’s McDonald’s was waiting on a street corner for one of my mom’s friends to come pick us up on a cold winter morning in Tokyo. We went in to buy hot tea and coffee to stay warm, and I had to ask for more packets of sugar because they were so tiny. So portion size in Japan is smaller compared to U.S. (isn’t everyone’s portions smaller than ours?), even in McDonald’s.
Finally, what’s available on the menu is different too. When I went to Hawaii, they had a eggs, spam, and rice breakfast there along with noodle soup and coconut pies. I wanted to order something in Japan’s McDonald’s I couldn’t get back home–the Ebi Filet-O-Fish Burger. Ebi is Japanese for shrimp.
Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 4: “Kevin O’Connell”
Original airdate October 23, 2015.
Symptoms: The new Welltopia head of plastic surgery is Allison’s ex-boyfriend (Will Yun Lee, as Dr. Kevin O’Connell), and he turns out to be hotter than she ever let on. Ken, feeling deceived, turns what’s supposed to be a comedic routine at a banquet honoring Kevin into a personal roast.
Diagnosis: Yay for more character development. We learn that Allison’s maiden name is Kuromata, and we learn that she went to medical school at Cornell. We learn that Julie’s social awkwardness extends beyond the walls of Welltopia. But the studio audience laughs too exuberantly at stuff that’s barely giggle-worthy, a major annoyance.
Prognosis: This is an episode that rewards repeat viewings. Ken Jeong’s physicality, perhaps his greatest comedic strength, gets a few (appropriate, which hasn’t always been the case) chances to shine, especially during Dr. Ken’s performance at the banquet. While much of the physical humor is exaggerated, the really good stuff is in the transitions. There’s a thinking actor there, and it’s easy to miss it because he distracts you with cartoony stuff. But look at the way he responds to his audience in moments between gags: this character is experiencing this awkwardness in real time, not merely reciting a script and moving from one blocking direction to another. Some of this bodes well for the overall quality of the show, especially since ABC this week ordered the full season.
RX: The continued development of Ken’s relationships with his family continues to be the best thing about the show, and it would do well to focus plots in that direction. Allison and Ken are a lovable couple and admirable parents, two qualities that can carry the show. The scripts need to tone down the office wackiness, though. If I were working with Clark, Julie, Pat, and even Damona, I’d agree to have lunch with them every day, but actually working alongside them would drive me insane and I’d need to transfer out.
I hate to say this, but there are things about this show that suck, and they’re mostly the stuff in Welltopia, and they don’t have to be this way. The characters are likable enough, and that’s huge, but everything in that office is wacky or zany or some other silly sitcom descriptor. Compare Clark and Julie in the Welltopia office to Dave and Molly at home. Which characters do you want to see more of? Dave and Molly are funny (usually) without being outrageous, each carving out a different kind of coolness in the family space. I was really worried about the Dave character after seeing the pilot episode, but he’s turned into a kind of bemused observer, almost a Snoopy to Ken’s Charlie Brown (or maybe a Woodstock to Ken’s Snoopy). Molly’s persona seems still to be taking shape, but the constant with her has been her interactions with her parents, none of which is the least bit outlandish. I am begging the writers on Dr.Ken to settle the office staff into some kind of meaningful groove one might conceivably see on this planet.
See also: Joz Wang and J.D. Brown discuss this episode on Post Show and Tell, interviewing Suzy Nakamura and Kate Simses.
Congratulations to Dr. Ken, as they received a full season pickup earlier this week.
This week’s new episode of Dr. Ken is an exciting one, featuring actor Will Yun Lee as Allison’s former boyfriend– now a very hot and successful doctor. Don’t miss it!
“Kevin O’Connell” – Ken is taken aback when he meets Allison’s former boyfriend Kevin O’Connell (guest star Will Yun Lee, “The Wolverine”), now a very hot and successful doctor. So when Ken is asked to speak at a banquet honoring Kevin, he uses the opportunity more as a roast. Meanwhile, Molly struggles with a school assignment asking for what she wants to be when she grows up, on “Dr. Ken,” FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network.
“Dr. Ken” stars Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken, Suzy Nakamura as Allison, Tisha Campbell Martin as Damona, Jonathan Slavin as Clark, Kate Simses as Julie, Albert Tsai as Dave, Krista Marie Yu as Molly, and Dave Foley as Pat.
Guest cast: Will Yun Lee as Kevin O’Connell.
“Kevin O’Connell” was written by Paul Kaplan & Mark Torgove and directed by Mark Cendrowski. Executive producers are Mike Sikowitz, John Davis and John Fox. Ken Jeong and Mike O’Connell are co-executive producers. “Dr. Ken” is produced by Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios.
“Dr. Ken” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.
Clip published with permission, courtesy of ABC Digital
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 4: “Fall Ball”
Original airdate October 13, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis is beyond excited about Eddie’s upcoming Fall Ball, the first school dance for the middle-schooler. He offers to give Eddie and his friends pointers on making the evening a “life-changing experience,” including advice on dancing, attire, and hair. Jessica is surprised to be the only one who didn’t know Grandma was dating someone, a dentist who’s just died. When she learns that Grandma is receiving an inheritance, Jessica sees an opportunity to get involved in house-flipping.
Good: New character development with Honey, Jessica, and Grandma is strong, the kind of character-driven relationship-building I’ve longed to see more of in this show. Louis is over-the-top enthusiastic about the school dance, but that’s made up for with a sincerely progressive kind of parental advice centered not on his expectations for his boy, but on his boy’s comfort levels and self-confidence. I’m really big on family sitcoms being something young people can discuss with their parents (or whoever), and Fresh off the Boat consistently does well in this area.
Other pluses: The flashback with guest Jeremy Lin, not as himself, is cute, and it highlights something primetime television and professional basketball have in common. Eddie and Allison (the piccolo-playing girl from episode 2) get some time together at the dance, Honey is especially gorgeous this week, Simple Minds is in the soundtrack, someone finally calls Jessica out on her rudeness, and the school dance is one kind of awkwardness stacked on other kinds of awkwardness, like almost all middle-school dances.
Bad: Still not a fan of grownups at the school, and in this episode the other group of regular characters I don’t like, the Cattleman’s Ranch employees, show up in the school context too. Ugh.
FOB moment: “Don’t compare us to white people. They are the cruelest race.”
Soundtrack flashback: “Boombastic” by Shaggy (1995) and “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds (1985)! You can never have too much Simple Minds in school dance scenes.
Final grade, this episode: It’s borderline between a high B and a B+, but the writing in this episode is tight. B+.
Before we begin this little journey through a Kyoto winter wonderland, I should start with the disclaimer that I grew up in sunny southern California. I put on a scarf whenever the temp goes under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When I stayed at dorms in Harvard University at Boston one summer during high school, I asked what the underground tunnels were for, and when they said it was for the snow, I replied, “Oh HELL no.” I did not apply to a single college on the East Coast. I don’t hate snow, though. I have fond childhood memories of our family driving to Big Bear or Palm Springs in the winter time for some toboggan sledding and snowman building. That’s the thing, though, I always drive to snow. I’ve never lived in it. Not long enough to hate it anyways. So you’ll have to forgive my delight when a sunny blue-skied Kyoto morning suddenly turned into a full on snowstorm.
I love the weather in Southern California, and here, we really only have two seasons—-summer and not summer. We spend plenty a Christmas day by sparkling outdoor pools or picnicking at the beach. However, I’ve enjoyed the beauty of seasons in other places, but none have enchanted me more than the way the city of Kyoto wears them. I daresay it’s the only place that may tempt me away from Christmas by the pool.
The sudden snowstorm we encountered was perfect timing. We had already been around and about Kyoto for a few days, and the snowstorm transformed it into a whole new city for us to explore.
Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 3: “Ken Helps Pat”
Original airdate October 16, 2015.
Symptoms: Pat informs Ken’s staff that it needs to work on Saturdays. At Allison’s urging, Ken goes to bat for his people, accepting an invitation from Pat to have dinner on Pat’s yacht. Dave has a new nickname at school; Allison and Ken disagree about how he should best deal with the situation.
Diagnosis: It’s a pleasant episode. Ken and Allison’s healthy relationship continues to anchor the show. The office characters are beginning to get some flesh, but the interactions still feel awkward. There are some good laughs, the best coming from conversations between Ken and Allison. I’m a bit baffled by the Park family’s always wearing shoes in the house. Where I come from, no Asian families do this, most removing them before even stepping across the threshold. Are Los Angeles families different this way?
Prognosis: There’s a huge difference between this episode and the series premiere. The laughs are less predictable and not as cheap, and the difference in Ken’s roles at work and home is getting interesting. I like that it’s difficult to tell which role Ken likes better, and I like that he seems genuinely to be valued in both settings, in completely different ways. The show is trending smarter, as is its main character.
Rx: I am surprised by how much less annoying I find the Pat character, up ’til now my least favorite in the show, but it reinforces something I’ve felt from the beginning: that the show should build its relationships as a first priority, and that it should take its time in doing so. The one-on-one time Ken and Pat have on the yacht is just one scene, but it does so much more for developing Ken’s relationship with Pat than the entire episode last week did for building his relationship with Clark.
In “Sanjay’s Super Team,” the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios to be released on November 25, 2015 as the short playing in front of The Good Dinosaur. Accomplished artist Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions.
Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.
I Flunked JPN 101 in College. Twice.
I studied Japanese formally for about eight years, but it was really eight years of the same three years’ worth of material, so while I know the elementary-level stuff really well, my comprehension is nowhere near where eight years should have brought me. It has always been my intention to continue my study independently, but you know how that goes. That kind of learning requires discipline, time, and some kind of structure, and Amazon Prime went on sale today and have you seen what they have streaming?
Still, I persist in short bursts of intense enthusiasm, usually spurred by some curious encounter with the language. My mother is from Japan, and she has helped me on occasion (my high-school Japanese teacher is a friend of hers, and I have been told many times that all my inflections and mannerisms are those of an old Japanese woman), but she’s not a patient teacher for the way I like to learn language, so I am left to my own devices until I can afford to purchase and neglect Rosetta Stone and its ilk.
But I’m Still Trying to Learn the Language.
I picked up Japanese Kanji and Kana (third edition, Tuttle Publishing 2012) hoping it would be a convenient reference for next to the computer. If a friend posts a selfie from Tokyo with interesting signage in the background, will I be able to flip through the book and get a general sense of whether she’s in the redlight district or electronic alley? When a former romantic interest (still friends, of course, because I’m that guy) texts me in all Japanese because when we started hanging out I may have led her to believe I know more of the language than I do, can I grab the book for a few minutes and fake a response? And most importantly, will doing so lead me to look up something else and learn another something new?
I saw ‘The Martian’ opening weekend and loved the movie. I only learned of the movie a few months ago when I started to see the movie trailer on TV. I never read the the original book, but recently I was a little disappointed and disturbed to learn about the white-washing of some of the characters in the movie:
“The Media Action Network For Asian-Americans has criticized director Ridley Scott over “white-washing” Asian-American roles in “The Martian.” … MANAA noted that Weir describes NASA’s director of Mars operations Dr. Venkat Kapoor as an Asian-Indian character who identifies religiously as being “a Hindu.” The group pointed out that in Scott’s film, his name is changed to Vincent Kapoor, and he’s played by British black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who says his father was “a Hindu” but that his mother was “Baptist.”
MANAA also noted that Mindy Park, described by Weir as Korean-American, is played in the movie by Mackenzie Davis, a white, blonde actress.”
I’m all for artistic discretion, but when all the other major characters are maintained authentically to the book, you kind of have to wonder the motivation for the changes. Clearly a case of racebending.
But The Martian is one of the best movies I’ve seen recently, if not ever, so I’ll probably watch the movie again, probably in IMAX.