8 Asians

Fresh Off the Boat Season 3 Premiere. Tuesday, October 11, 2016. 9:00 on ABC.

Fresh Off the Boat Season 3 Premiere. Tuesday, October 11, 2016. 9:00 on ABC.

The Huang family returns to Tuesday nights beginning October 11 at 9:00 with Fresh Off the Boat’s season 3 premiere, “Coming From America.”  The show picks up where season 2 left off (in “Bring the Pain“), with Louis feuding with his brother Gene, and Grandma following Gene back to Taiwan to make sure he’s okay.

Louis flies the entire family to Taiwan in an effort to make things right with Gene (Ken Jeong). Upon meeting Gene’s beautiful fiancé, Margaret, and seeing the wonderful life he has built for himself, Louis questions whether his life in Orlando is just as great as it could be in Taiwan. Meanwhile, Jessica takes Eddie, Emery, and Evan to her favorite childhood locales, including Dihua Street and Shilin Night Market.

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Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 2: “Ken and Allison Share a Patient”
Original airdate September 30, 2016.

dr_ken_s02e02-18What does the chart say?
Ken and Allison disagree on whether a patient’s ailment is physical or psychological, getting their professional relationship off to a prickly start.  Pat invents a new girlfriend in order to inspire Damona to take their friends-with-benefits relationship to the next level, but Damona is in the beginning stages of an actual new relationship.  D.K. gives Dave advice for reinventing himself, now that Dave is in middle school.

Side effects include drowsiness.
I knew it.  D.K.’s moving into the Park house mainly serves to give the kids a new center, now that Allison is working at Welltopia.  It’s not good.  It’s really not good.  I admit there are a few laughs, but everything that happens in this subplot happens somewhere else, sometime else, leaving us with lots of telling but very little showing.  This works when the relationships are strong, but the relationships between the kids and D.K. are still not well developed.  A much better subplot would have had the three characters spending real time together.

dr_ken_s02e02-40The other subplot, although straight from the sitcom factory, works really well for two good reasons.  First: against all probability, the Pat-Damona relationship is one of the most effective story ideas from season one, giving each character realness, believability, and pathos, a credit to the writers who didn’t cartoonify it, even while one of the characters is himself cartoony.  Pat admits he unexpectedly found himself enjoying the friendship part more than the benefits part, a moment of realness earned by consistent character development reaching back almost to the beginning of the first season.  And second: Clark serving as the glue holding together two of the three plots in this episode might be the magic formula.  He’s sympathetic and reactive, physical and sarcastic, and genuinely funny.  His delivery of lines like, “Okay, that’s literally what a CAT scan does” is somewhere betwen Greek chorus and Shakespearean fool, and comedically right on key.  Pat recognizes this when their scene together ends with Pat’s line, “You are very wise.”

dr_ken_s02e02-3Second opinions.
Oh man.  I love the main plot.  I’ve said from the beginning that this show’s strongest element is the Ken-Allison relationship.  Ken Jeong and Suzy Nakamura work together like they’ve always known each other, and in this new arrangement, the characters are each right and wrong in equal amounts, in believable (if somewhat exaggerated) ways.  Each accuses the other of not being professional.  Ken says, “No one’s ever questioned my judgment as a doctor.”  Allison says, “What about you questioning my judgment?  Don’t I deserve the same respect?”  Ken says, “Admit it: you’re treating me differently because I’m your husband.  Would you have told any other doctor to dig deeper?”  Allison says, “If any other doctor called me sweetie, I woulda punched him in the throat.”  This is their best argument since the Thanksgiving episode (“You’re a lapsed Korean!”).  It works.  It all works.

Signs of life.
It’s often a good idea with sitcoms not to hold the tag against the rest of the episode, so I’m going to pretend I never saw it.  The D.K.-Molly-Dave story is terrible, but the rest of the episode is quite strong.  I gave the season premiere a half-point bump for promising better things this season, but this episode doesn’t need the charitable encouragement.  Four stethoscopes out of five.