Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pilot Review: The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor (ABC)
Premiered September 25 at 10pm

There have been a number of shows over the past few decades about eccentric doctors, and you’d think that the well would have dried up by now. Fortunately, some fresh idea still exist, especially when they’re executed properly. When it comes to shows almost designed explicitly to draw a loyal, devoted audience regardless of its size and the general reviews, this is it. A young, autistic doctor is a clear endearing protagonist, and it’s impossible not to root for him to succeed. This pilot did a good job of filling in the traumatic past that Shaun had, including being bullied on the soccer field, physically abused by his father, and losing his brother at a young age. Being autistic, he processes information and emotions differently than others, something that presented a huge problem when Dr. Glassman argued for his hiring. More than anything, it helped make for an extraordinarily memorable life-saving scene in an airport, which involved Shaun speaking up when he saw a more experienced doctor about to do the wrong thing and, most unforgettably, him going up to a TSA agent to ask to borrow one of the confiscated knives which did seem to be left out for anyone to grab in a pretty public place. His skill is undeniable and his honesty is endearing, including his desire to help people and to make a lot of money and his point that Dr. Melendez, who was ready to keep him down by refusing to let him do anything but suction, could teach him a lot and was also very arrogant. Fresh off a five-season stint as Norman Bates on “Bates Motel,” Freddie Highmore, who, at age twenty-five, still looks incredibly young, is perfectly primed for this part. In the supporting cast, it’s good to see Richard Schiff as his most loyal defender and Hill Harper as a typically dubious force who will take a while to be convinced of Shaun’s validity. This show is a typical medical show with an atypical twist, and I think that it should work pretty well being what it wants to be.

How will it work as a series? The focus here will be two-pronged, since part of it has to do with Shaun overcoming past struggles to make superb medical decisions in the present, which requires hot-button cases with completely unexplained circumstances. Medical shows seem to have an almost unlimited vault of ideas to pull from on that front, so I’m sure this show can chug along for as long as it needs to with fresh medical mysteries.
How long will it last? This show is sure to be an audience favorite, though for some reason it doesn’t seem to have attracted very strong reviews. Fortunately, the ratings speak a lot louder than critics do, and this show got off to a strong start that bested many other series on ABC for several decades, so I think this is a safe bet to continue for a while.

Pilot grade: B

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