Sunday, May 7, 2017

For Your Consideration: Dr. Ken

Suzy Nakamura, Outstanding Actress in a Comedy "Allison Finds a Lump"
Jonathon Slavin, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy "Ken Learns Korean" & "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown"
Mike Sikowitz Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown"

In its first season, Dr. Ken was an unlikely comfort show for me. It was generally panned by critics, but I always enjoyed its family-friendly humor the same way I enjoy Reba or The Nanny. I was a bit surprised it was renewed for a second season, but I was more surprised by the quality of the second season. The show's managed to touch on topics ranging from breast cancer and homelessness to depression, Marfan Syndrome and cultural identity.

It's like a modern day Kate & Allie except, you know, funny.

It's also one of a few sitcoms on ABC that doesn't use a narrator or the mockumentary format as a storytelling crutch. Fresh Off the Boat dropped its narrator after season 1, but The Real O'Neals, Blackish, The Middle, Modern Family, these are some of ABC's mainstay shows (and The Real O'Neals). And when I look across some of the highest profile sitcoms on the other networks (Big Bang Theory, The Great Indoors, Making History, Two Broke Girls, Superstore... fucking Superstore and The Great Indoors, these are shit shows... Mom, fucking Mom is horrible) I believe that the best 6 episodes of Dr. Ken are as good as the best 6 episodes from any other network comedy from this season.

The decision to increase Nakamura's presence in the show was smart and unfolds nicely with her joining the team at Ken's work place. She effectively replaces Kim Simes, a ditzy nurse or something, who I swear came directly from an episode of Becker. Nakamura's got fine comic timing and delivery, and she would have been wasted otherwise. Whether she was given more screen time with a plan to feature her in some great episodes, or if the great episodes emerged after giving her more screen time probably shouldn't matter. The end result is great.

In this era of peak television, I doubt Emmy voters will give the show a fair shake, but I am confident that an objective viewer would find more merit in Dr. Ken than in Mom. Fucking Mom.

Sadly, stupidly, ABC doesn't have a lot of clips for me to embed here, but I've made one for myself of Jonathan Slavin's work from "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown" (Nakamura is excellent in this episode, but her breast cancer scare episode has Emmy bait written all over it, so I'm recommending the more orthodox selection between the 2 episodes).


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