For those who have not heard of “The Good Doctor”, it is a new television series that tells the story of a young autistic doctor working to serve in a hospital in California. This series premiered on ABC on Sept. 26 and has received high appraise from viewers.
The series centers on Shaun Murphy, portrayed by Freddie Highmore, (who you may recognize from “Bates Motel”) a doctor diagnosed with autism and savant syndrome (a case where individuals with autism have enhanced abilities or brilliance in certain subjects that stand out in contrast to their disability), making him antisocial, but also a genius. It is based on a 2013 Korean drama of the same name produced by David Shore, who also worked on “House”.
I will not comment on the actual scientific and medical portions, since I am not a doctor or anatomy major so I cannot make any judgments.
The pilot had some ups and some downs. To start with the positives, Freddie Highmore does a nice job at portraying an autistic adult and showing that he can be emotionally moving when called upon. There are some flashbacks, in the pilot at least, that at first were a little jarring but eventually were welcomed, adding more to the character of Shaun Murphy. It introduces a little intrigue into the back story of Murphy, although by the end of the flashbacks they did become predictable.
There are issues that should be touched up a little. There are cliché characters, such as the well-respected yet arrogant older professional who despises the new guy because he is different, and the intelligent young female doctor who is not shown the respect she deserves and is compassionate towards the introverted genius. These are characters we have seen dozens of times before, and so far, there is nothing about them that shows they will bring anything beneficial to the show. Certain lines of dialogue were only there just to serve as exposition and they were not delivered successfully.
On a technical level, there were a few times in the first half of the episode where the transitions are sudden and without the use of establishing shots. It leaves the audience confused as to what’s happening. I do not know if this is something that will remain in the show permanently, or if they were just for the pilot, but there are moments where we are inside the head of Shaun as everything is in text as he solves the problem. While not terrible, they can be a bit jarring and has been used in many other shows about geniuses, so it feels like a checkbox item rather than a core element or interesting gimmick for the show.
Lastly, while the flashbacks were a nice touch, one of them showcased an old cliché of the angry, misunderstanding father and the pure loving mom, who serves as their support system. They do make a deviation from this trope in the next flashback but it was still there.
I am somewhat intrigued by the story, and wish to continue seeing how these characters interact with each other and see the story unfold.
The second episode debuted on Oct. 2 and the third on Oct. 9.