After five seasons on Bates Motel, it will definitely be hard to not see Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates but he is working on changing that with his new show, The Good Doctor. If you notice, the show was created by the same creator of House, David Shore. Will another eccentric doctor show last?
Synopsis: The president of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital pleads his case to the reluctant board of directors to allow a young doctor with savant syndrome and autism onto their surgical staff. (IMDB)
Writer: David Shore
Director: Seth Gordon
Running Time: 41mins
To those wondering the difference between Dr. Shawn Murphy (Highmore) and House, this is addressed right away. Murphy is autistic and lives a very regimented life. The episode starts off with him getting ready and leaving to work in his new position as a surgeon for the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
During this time we get to experience how he perceives the world. It is full of people and he is just a small part of it. He mostly kept to himself until an accident involving a young boy forces him into action. This was just the start of what will probably be a recurring theme. People don’t take him seriously because of his condition but he just ends up proving them wrong. This happened a few times in the episode with this incident being the first. Murphy helped the boy the breathe in an ingenious way before he rode with him and his family to the hospital where he was set to work.
Meanwhile, a mentor to Murphy and the President of the hospital, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), pleaded his case to the hospital board to hire him. Unfortunately for him, they could not see past Murphy’s condition and thought that it would be more of a liability. Glassman strongly believed in Murphy since they have known each other since Murphy was 14. Throughout the episode, we got a series of flashbacks of Murphy’s past that were standard fare. Murphy had a troubled childhood due to his condition. He was bullied and his parents couldn’t handle him so he and his older brother Steve (Dylan Kingwell) left.
Besides Murphy, there were a few other subplots (office romances and such) going on in the hospital but it is a little unclear how they’ll all fit together as they were more distracting here. Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) was the attending surgeon who seemed arrogant and to not like being challenged so he’s going to fit perfectly with Murphy potentially.
When no one took him seriously and/or felt like things were going nowhere, Murphy would have outbursts which often got him in trouble. Once the boy he saved arrived at the hospital, Murphy believed that he was still in danger but the surgeons did not take him seriously and this latest outburst led him to be barred from the hospital. It was fun to see him try and fail to get back in. They eventually listened to Murphy and they saved the boy’s life. Meanwhile, Glassman continued to make the case for Murphy. Glassman believed that his hiring would mean giving hope to the less fortunate. After the board voted against his hiring, they learned about Murphy saving the boy in a YouTube video.
The board reconvened after the video and Glassman decided to tie his fate to Murphy. When asked about why he wanted to be a surgeon, after a pause, we got one last flashback where he lost his brother and then made a passionate plea about the people he couldn’t save. He wanted to be a surgeon so he can save people. That speech was enough to be officially hired.
The episode ended with Murphy joining Melendez’s team for surgery where Melendez laid down the law when it came to his position on the team and Murphy called him out for being arrogant.
Overall, this was a good start to what could be a promising series. While the comparisons to House may be unfair, the writing coupled with Highmore’s performance create a compelling, complex character who is easy to root for and stands on his own. Its depiction of autism was from a position of hope in that is not a weakness and one need not be defined by it. The jury is still out on the other characters, however, Highmore is definitely worth the price of admission so far.