Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Theater, TV

Kim’s Convenience: Stage Play review [Recommended]

This is a review of Kim’s Convenience the theater play (very minor spoilers) but will also briefly mention some elements of the TV show for comparison, which I saw first. The play opened this past Wednesday and continues its engagement until March 19 in Montreal at the Segal Centre. It’s produced by Soulpepper, created & written by Ins Choi and directed by Weyni Mengesha with set & costume design by Ken Mackenzie.

Also as an aside, the theater play will make its US debut this July in New York!

KimsConvenienceProgramTicketThe play starts off with Mr. Kim aka Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) walking into the store. If you’ve seen the TV show, he’s the familiar genial Appa with his jokes and accent but I would say there’s a bit more to him in the play, which is not restricted by TV rules. Much of the first act is comedy as he and his daughter Janet (Rosie Simon) clash and argue over various topics. There is early mention of a Walmart arriving soon and an offer to buy the convenience store from a customer. This is more background info as the main theme of the play is intergenerational conflict between parents and their adult children. Mrs. Kim aka Umma (Jean Yoon) appears from time to time often humming a tune. The fourth member of the family, Jung (Richard Lee), is however not around the store at all, having left the store/home many years previously due to a past incident.

One of the first arguments begins when Appa asks Janet to call 911 about an illegally parked Honda because it’s a Japanese car and he holds a grudge against Japan due to its past history of occupation of Korea. Later on when a customer with a Carribean accent comes into the store there’s an amusing confusion of different accents which leads into some race issues. Appa tries to “educate” Janet on which combinations of race, gender, sexuality will mean a customer is likely to steal. Some of these jokes will be familiar to TV show watchers but there are some differences. In fact, I find they work better in the play because unlike the TV show which tries to stretch some of these jokes into themes for an entire episode, they’re maybe one or two liners in the play.

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Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 3-4

I haven’t been timely with my episode reviews but I often post short thoughts on twitter on the same day as the episode. Here are my extended thoughts.

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Ddong Chim

A very good improvement over previous episodes. Since this review was actually written after seeing episode 8, I can say this is the funniest episode thus far plus I learned something about another culture! Granted it wasn’t the type of thing I expect to learn about on a TV show. That thing is ddong chim, which translates roughly to poop needle. It’s also described as a Korean wedgie where one person pokes another person in their anus with their pointed fingers. Yeah it sounds gross but apparently it’s a popular prank to do among Korean kids and some other Asian cultures. When recently promoted assistant manager Jung does a ddong chim to his buddy Kimchee at work, it leads to some uncomfortable questions from his boss Shannon. Easily the most awkward and funny exchange between the two.

There’s also a subplot with Appa and Janet’s friend, Gerald. Appa asks Gerald to take his photo instead of Janet, who is quite bothered by this. We get to see the “don’t touch wall” of photos and some funny exchanges between Appa and Umma. The resolution ends with a great line from Janet in response to Gerald in front of the “don’t touch wall.”

This is probably the first episode that focuses more on Jung and Kimchee who tend to be separated from the rest of the Kim family in most episodes. It’s nice to see them more and Kimchee is somewhat less annoying. In fact, I hope Kimchee gets his revenge in a future episode. Now for episode 4…

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

Second Jen – Season 1, Episodes 1-2

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Couch Surfing

The story starts off with Mo proposing to Jen that they get an apartment together much to Jen’s surprise. More surprising to me is Mo jumping on Jen’s bed with her dirty boots (that trope always bugs me but that’s TV for you). After that they have dinner with Jen’s parents and brother where Jen reveals her plans to her mom who is not pleased by them. I’m still wondering whether anyone has ever asked for money for new shoelaces, how poor is Jen’s brother? They find an apartment and are introduced to their male neighbors who are the other main characters of this show. A bit of a romance gets an obvious start here.

I enjoyed the first episode quite a bit. It may not be super laugh out loud funny but I got some good chuckles. My initial reaction to Jen’s mom was that she was kind of a stereotypical caricature but when she’s at her best she reminds me of Arrested Development’s Lucille with her amusing, passive aggressive remarks. I have to say calling her daughter too skinny didn’t seem believable at all. The relationship between the girls Jen & Mo is really strong. There are definitely some good zingers, which often fly by very quickly due to the rapid fire banter between the girls, which is very entertaining. I particularly like the the inventive selfie segues. The acting is good although sometimes it seems characters are a bit too fast in their line delivery, which makes it feel “rehearsed” and more exaggerated. However, sometimes the exaggeration does work nicely to add a bit of absurdity to the realism. I suspect it takes a bit of time to find that perfect balance. I think it gets it right more often than not. Favorite line of episode 1, “I’m hot Asian Bambi.” Read on for my thoughts on episode 2…

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Kim’s Convenience – Season 1, Episodes 1-2

kimsconvenience-s1ep1-e1-gaydiscount

Gay Discount

As the series premiere, this episode does a good job of introducing us to the Kim family. There’s the father and mother, referred to as Appa and Umma. They run a convenience store in Toronto. There’s the daughter, Janet, who helps out and studies photography. Jung is the son who doesn’t live at home and is estranged from Appa.

The story starts with Appa hastily offering a gay discount to a couple of gay men when he doesn’t allow them put their gay pride week poster up at his convenience store. It’s kind of gutsy to have an episode essentially centered on reverse discrimination but Appa’s surprisingly accurate gaydar makes for some of the better jokes. The episode shows a rather diverse set of characters such as a transgender (whom Appa has an interesting conversation with) and a woman with a West-Indian accent, whose accent he doesn’t understand. The woman also doesn’t understand Appa’s accent and Mr. Chin, a fellow business owner, is also involved in the misunderstanding. It’s really interesting to see such a real-life occurrence as a scene on TV show because it’s not necessarily something you would see on a typical, generic sitcom where everyone speaks perfect English.

Umma and Janet have some exasperating and totally relatable exchanges about cool, Christian, Korean boyfriends (or lack thereof). The resolution to this subplot ends with a funny scene where Appa questions a potential date on Korean history. Jung doesn’t get much screen time compared to the other family members here. We see him at work with his best friend KimChee.

Overall, I didn’t really find the episode all that funny, it tries but some jokes didn’t really work for me but that might be because some of them are obvious to me. Jung’s scenes are probably the most awkward with ho-hum jokes that the actors try their best to sell. However, the story and characters are good. Janet seems to standout in particular to me but I think each family member will appeal to different audiences. Read on for my thoughts on the second episode…

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Second Jen – Digital First TV comedy starring two Asian female leads premieres October 27, 2016 @ City TV

secondjen

Second Jen is a sitcom on City TV about two young adult women who decide to move out and share an apartment together to prove to their immigrant parents that they can be independent. One is Chinese Canadian (Samantha Wan as Jen) and the other is Filipino Canadian (Amanda Joy as Mo). They star in the show and also write the episodes. The title describes the show nicely in a couple of ways, the first is pretty obvious as it sounds like “second generation” but the two lead characters both share the same name in “Jennifer” but one goes by the nickname of “Mo.” They are joined by two male characters, (Al Mukadam as Lewis & Munro Chambers as Nate), who are their neighbors. You can actually watch episodes online now which are part of a digital sneak peak.

Some articles about the show:
Second Jen breaks sitcom ground with two Asian women in lead roles – The Star
Rogers unveils digital-first TV show called Second Jen – Mobile Syrup
Second-gen Fil-Canadian gets ready for prime time TV – Inquirer.net

Update Oct 18: Trailer!

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Kim’s Convenience – First Asian Canadian TV show sitcom! Series Premiere October 4, 2016 @ CBC TV

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Kim’s Convenience is a new comedy that will appear on CBC TV (and online). The first episode debuts Tuesday Oct 4 @ 9pm EST! It’s based off the hit stage play of the same name by Ins Choi, who also produces the TV show version and stars some of the same actors. It looks very promising.

Update Oct 3: Apparently the premiere has been delayed by a week to Oct 11 due to Blue Jays baseball.

Check out some short videos below!

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Posted in Trailers, TV, Video

Blood and Water, Chinese Canadian TV series on OMNI

This new crime drama filmed in Vancouver and Toronto depicts a mostly Chinese cast who speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese and will run for 8 episodes, 30 mins each. CBC radio had a short feature about it just today and you can read the following link for more info about the TV show. It premieres Sunday, Nov 8 at 10pm on OMNI 2. Here’s OMNI’s page for the TV show.

Posted in TV

Peter Shinkoda as Nobu in the Daredevil Netflix series

Peter Shinkoda is originally from Montreal, Canada but like many actors is pretty much based in LA. He has a significant recurring role as a villain in the new Netflix series, Daredevil. All episodes of Season 1 are available to view on Netflix and his character will be in season 2, set to be released in 2016. Reviews have been quite positive for this show. There have been some articles about him recently like the reader of the week feature of Angry Asian Man and this interview from Hyphen Magazine.