On last Friday’s episode of Dr. Ken, Hong Kong detective Wei Shen goes undercover into the seedy underbelly of California’s HMOs on his most dangerous mission yet… and if you understood that reference, then we can be best friends! Actually, in this episode we get our first proper guest star in Will Yun Lee’s Dr. Kevin O’Connell, a plastic surgeon, Korean adoptee, and Allison Park’s ex from med school. He’s also smoking hot and charming, which immediately sets off Ken’s more petty tendencies.
Much of the episode is spent exploring the aftermath of Ken discovering that his wife’s ex-boyfriend is essentially a “Korean Channing Tatum.” To make matters worse, Dr. O’Connell also immediately charms Ken’s co-workers and his kids, often by providing the attention that he’s been too self-centered to give himself. Everyone’s smitten by the perfect visiting doctor, except for Allison, who never told her husband about what her ex looked like because of his jealous nature.
It all comes to a head at the Welltopia Employee Banquet, where Ken is set to provide a “comedy” routine for entertainment, AND where Kevin is set to be the guest of honor. His jealousy and insecurity reaching a breaking point, Ken decides that Kevin will be the topic of his “biting satirical comedy” and proceeds craft a vicious roast of the child-saving, scar healing plastic surgeon. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t go over well at first, but he pulls through thanks to some support from his missus.
The B plot in this episode involves Damona (one of the nurses on Ken’s team) encouraging Dr. Julie Dobbs (one of the doctors on Ken’s team), to be more open to socializing with colleagues. It was nice to get some more time with these two characters, especially Julie (Kate Sises continues to be the secret comedic weapon of the hospital scenes). Although not much character building actually took place (Demona was still sassy and Julie was still socially sheltered), both characters were able to get some good jokes in.
The high points for this episode came from the interactions between Ken and Allison. The fight between the couple after Ken brings Kevin home was an excellent showcase of Suzy Nakamura and Ken Jeong’s chemistry. The family scenes of Dr. Ken remain the most consistently funny, with Molly also continuing to nail her scenes. However, little bro Dave remains the weakest link in the Park family so far, suffering from a lack of characterization since that first episode (where did that artsy kid who didn’t give a crap about what everyone thought go?).
The other bright spot was Will Yun Lee as Dr. Kevin O’Connell. It was pretty awesome to see a portrayal of a masculine Asian dude on TV outside of Hawaii Five-O (where Lee also moonlights as a guest star) where he wasn’t some triad member or henchman, but a normal doctor guy who happens to be really good looking. Also admirable was how the only joke made about his “Asian-ness” was the initial misunderstanding about his name. We didn’t hear any dim-sum euphemisms about his sexy bits, or dwell on the fact that he was adopted. To me, that screamed progress! One of Dr. Ken’s strengths has been the portrayal of its characters as just regular people, despite being anything but in the world of network television.
Dr.Ken was picked up for a full season last week thanks to its strong performance in a tough Friday time slot. Personally, while I’m happy that the show was picked up (more stuff to write about!) I’m still waiting for the episode where the show finds itself and really makes a statement for that second season. With the way the show’s been improving since the pilot, here’s hoping that moment isn’t far off!
Featured Image Credit – ABC