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Comedy malpractice: Family sitcom ‘Dr. Ken’ is DOA

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Ken Jeong has had scene-stealing roles as oddball characters, but a little of his manic energy goes a long way.

One star

Dr. Ken Fridays, 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Ken Jeong has had scene-stealing roles as oddball characters on Community and in The Hangover movies, but a little of his manic energy goes a long way, and he makes for a pretty annoying star in the dreadful sitcom Dr. Ken. Jeong attempts to play it straight as a typical overprotective, clueless sitcom dad, and he fails at both genuine emotion and wacky antics. The old-fashioned, hokey family sitcom fits perfectly with the equally stodgy, unfunny (and inexplicably long-running) Last Man Standing on ABC’s Friday night, with echoes of the ’90s powerhouse TGIF lineup of awful family-friendly comedies.

While it’s heartening to see ABC airing two comedies featuring Asian-American families, Dr. Ken lacks any of the warmth, subtlety or cleverness of network sibling Fresh Off the Boat, instead relying on listless sitcom clichés and broad, obvious jokes (accompanied by loud, unwarranted audience laughter). It’s completely tone-deaf when it comes to depicting modern youth culture (Jeong’s doctor character stumbles into the world’s least convincing nightclub in the premiere episode), and it wastes talented supporting players Dave Foley, Albert Tsai and Suzy Nakamura along with Jeong. For an actor who knows how to make the most out of small parts, Jeong manages to thoroughly squander his chance at a starring role.

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