‘Dr. Ken’ Episode Review: “Ken’s Big Audition”

Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 22: “Ken’s Big Audition” (season finale)
Original airdate March 31, 2017.

Friday I’m in Love

Ken auditions for a one-episode part in a television show, an opportunity he’s always yearned for.  He bombs his chance, but then he’s offered a regular role, which would require him to leave his position at Welltopia.

Molly gets her acceptance letter from Stanford, and Allison’s not quite as ready for the news as one might expect.  Damona and Pat seem to be in a good place in their relationship, but Pat’s ex-wife (in the form of Nia Vardalos) shows up with an interest in giving things a second try.

Boys Don’t Cry

The second half of the episode slides into most of what I find disappointing in Dr.Ken.  Secondary plots get resolved with no real development, usually with a heartfelt monologue ending with a hug.  Ken Jeong takes a good idea and then drives it off a cliff while wearing a clown nose.  Someone does a cameo (this time it’s Seth Rogen) contributing nothing to the story.  The studio audience laughs too hard at something not that funny or cheers for characters as if they’re real-life people.

Just Like Heaven

On the other hand, the first half of this movie is kind of an amazing surprise.  Every moment leading up to Ken’s audition is really funny in all of Ken Jeong’s best ways.  His gift for physical humor had me laughing aloud in a way I haven’t all season.  The dialogue-less moment where he takes the phone call from the casting director and tries to shoo his family out of the kitchen is really well done, and his scenes in the examination room, first with Clark and then with Clark and Damona are just about perfect.  It’s unusual in a half-hour sitcom for the blocking to be funny, but it is in these scenes.

Once again, it’s the Pat-Damona stuff that gives the show its credibility.  Yeah, I can’t figure it out either, but it works.

I’m normally not a fan of meta-dialogue in a fictional series, but there are a few deliberate moments here that I found amusing, as when D. K. talks about TV characters with accents, or when the TV guy says something about the network wanting more diversity.  It’s pretty cute here.

Let’s Go to Bed

And that’s it for season two.  We end on a cliffhanger very similar to the cliffhanger ending the first season, only the vibe for a possible next season feels a lot less questionable.  I would have set the odds at about 50-50 a year ago, but I’d go 2-1 in favor of a renewal for next season.  This finale is an apt way to put this show to bed for the hiatus: at its best, it’s unusually laugh-aloud funny; at its worst, it’s difficult to watch.  3 audition scripts out of 5.

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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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