Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 14: “A Day in the Life”
Original airdate January 20, 2017.
Through early morning fog I see
Ken is featured in part of a ten-hour documentary on healthcare in America–an interviewer and camera operator follow him around for a full working day. He’s excited about the attention, but a combination of grouchy Damona, camera-shy Allison, confused Clark, and unappreciative patients shows Ken in what he thinks is an unflattering, uninteresting light. He questions his happiness as a physician, and considers giving standup comedy another go.
Visions of the things to be
When this show is at its stupidest, it’s so stupid it’s painful. The entire first act is spastic and unfunny. If you’ve seen three episodes of this show, you know what I mean: cartoonish, wacky, cheap, unimaginative, and laughed at far too enthusiastically by the studio audience. If the characters weren’t so likable and the actors so good, Dr. Ken would be impossible to watch every week.
The pains that are withheld for me
You can see it coming twenty minutes away: this was going to be a rehash of some of the best episodes of M*A*S*H, where war documentarians capture the 4077th first at its goofiest and most irreverent, then at its heroic, life-saving best. At first the mimicry is annoying, but then Ken tells the interviewer that as a kid, he always wanted to be Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, and suddenly the episode isn’t a rehash but a tribute. The episode pivots here, and you can predict the manipulative heart-touching moments from Ken, Clark, Allison, Pat, Damona, and Molly. And darn it all if it doesn’t work anyway. Yeah, I teared up, and yeah, I felt played by the direct, pregnant glances Pat gives the camera when he’s caught having serious unspoken thoughts about Damona, but yeah, it still does the job. Those punks.
I realize and I can see
The MVP goes again to Jonathan Slavin, with Dave Foley getting the honorable mention. I hated this episode until I liked it, and I hated it for putting me through that. Listen: I don’t mind stupid. But there’s smart stupid and there’s stupid stupid, and the show too often and too easily settles for the latter when it’s so clear that it’s capable fo the former. Still, if a show makes me cry when it’s trying to make me cry, it’s clearly an intentionally realized vision. 3.5 of 5 zucchini muffins.