“Dr. Ken – The complete series” (2019)

Television Comedy

44 Episodes

Created by: Jared Stern, Ken Jeong and John Fox

Featuring: Ken Jeong, Suzy Nakamura, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Jonathan Slavin, Albert Tsai, Krista Marie Yu, Kate Simses, Dana Lee and Dave Foley

Released recently on DVD is the entire run of the Ken Jeong created and starring television series “Dr. Ken – The complete series” (2019) which was very loosely based on his real experiences as a Physician. Unfortunately for all involved this was not only a relatively short lived series but was critically reviled as well which upon viewing is a little unfair but the tone throughout seems off for what the creators were possibly going for from the outset.

The premise if the series is that Dr. Ken is a brilliant physician who is horrible with his patients and co-workers but fumblingly well-meaning as a husband and father. This seems pretty standard for any sit-com really which may explain the lack of freshness on one hand as well as the try too hard nature on the other. There seems on the surface to be a breakdown between plot and narrative which explains why there is a looseness in terms of the character who never really knows whether he is coming or going, the only thing more random than Dr. Ken himself are all the patients he sees who seem lost.

I can see how Jeong flailing his limbs, falling over things and spitting out hip-hop jargon either might seem compulsively funny or that the pressure of the environment might force laughs upon you. Also, Jeong is a funny guy who has been funny in many contexts. That the multicam format and this sitcom, as currently constructed, both force him into some of his broader, worse habits is a disappointment, but it’s OK to want to like him.

Jeong has it in him to be an effective sitcom star, and if that happens, he’s surrounded himself with performers who could make up a rather terrific ensemble — if they had a more consistent lead performance to work against.

It may seem at times that there is endless diversity on our screens but that simply is not the case so it is a victory when a series like “Dr. Ken” actually gets to air. Even if it is not a great depiction of what a Korean family faces in the US, this is a show that is about and is created by a Korean living in the US. The other byproduct is that when a show is not great or does not reache a level that would break new ground or last longer than a two rocky seasons it makes those shows that are about diversity and are successful look even better.

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