Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 9: “Ken Cries Foul”
Original airdate December 4, 2015.
Symptoms: Dave asks his parents if he can quit the basketball team, since he finds the sport boring, and because he’s no good at it. Ken, an avid fan of the sport, encourages Dave to ride the season out; the team is in the playoff and only has one game left. Molly and her parents have differing opinions about what’s appropriate attire for a high-school student. Damona, out of vacation days, wants to go to Mexico with a friend, so she tries to bait Pat into saying something racially insensitive, making him feel bad enough to give her an extra day off.
Diagnosis: I laughed aloud several times, so the entertainment value is pretty strong, but I never felt engaged. Ken Jeong and Suzy Nakamura, as always, do the best acting, and focusing on that made the episode go down better, but watching it still felt like eating a can of cake frosting.
Prognosis: I love the idea of both the A and B plots being centered around Dave and Molly, something that strengthens Dr. Ken as a family show with a multitude of interesting characters, but this episode does little to develop Molly or Dave better than skin-deep in dealing with conflicts that deserve at least a slightly more thoughtful exploration. Of the three resolutions in the final act, Ken’s coming to grips with Dave’s other interests plays best, a bit of sentimentality that works, but the resolutions of the other plots are cursory, and really not that interesting. I honestly don’t know what to think about what any of this bodes for the future of this program.
Rx: The end credits roll over a montage of outtakes from Dr. Ken’s attempt to referee Dave’s basketball game, and I cannot put my finger on exactly what the difference is, but I wished the whole episode felt like that. It was fun, it felt good, and it was funny. You could feel Ken’s energy and excitement in a different way. I don’t know why, but all I could think was, “That’s the show I wish I was watching.”