The Good Doctor Is Quietly Gaining Traction

Jet Cafuli Analyzes Why The Good Doctor Is A Sleeper Hit.

courtesy of:

Jet Cafuli, Contributing Writer

David Shore, the brains behind “House,” is recreating the magic of Hugh Laurie with ABC’s “The Good Doctor.” The hour-long medical drama series follows Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) a young autistic doctor looking for a new start at San Jose’s St.Bonaventure Hospital.

Murphy, a skilled surgeon and ambitious to join the surgical unit at the prestigious hospital, has to defend his talent at every turn. Highmore is versatile and insightful in his portrayal of Dr. Murphy, but it seems he’s single-handedly holding together the one-dimensional elements in the show’s pilot. You may recognize Highmore from his five-year stint on “Bates Motel,” where he also plays a deeply troubled and socially isolated character.

Despite being a touch melodramatic, the season premiere does a fine job at displaying Murphy’s haunting childhood and impressive intelligence. The episode alternates between flashbacks of Murphy as a young boy living with an abusive father to a boardroom meeting of the hospital’s higher-ups. Murphy’s mentor and hospital president, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) pleads to a board of directors who are wary of hiring Murphy. He stands up for Shaun and urges the hospital to give him a chance to prove his medical skills, “We hire Shaun and we give hope to those people with limitations that those limitations are not what they think they are. That they do have a shot!” Highmore approaches the role with grace, but the show fails to explain how autism helps Shaun be a better doctor.

Rounding out the cast are Nicholas Gonzalez, Hill Harper and Antonia Thomas who play other doctors on the show. They are a charming addition but none of them are evolved enough in the pilot to really stand out. Between critics and viewers, “The Good Doctor” is caught in the middle of being a sentimental snooze and one that knows exactly how to tug at 33 million viewers’ heartstrings. It’s impossible to tell what the series will look like week to week, but I suggest the writers fine-tune the supporting characters to make for something more than a medical show with a “twist.” “The Good Doctor” airs on ABC on Mondays at 10 p.m.