‘The Good Doctor’ series premiere review



Freddie Highmore in "The Good Doctor." (ABC/Liane Hentscher)

Story by Madison Brown, entertainment editor

“Grey’s Anatomy” meets “Atypical” in this classic underdog story that brings new meaning to the commonly misunderstood Autism spectrum disorder.

“The Good Doctor” follows the life of young, autistic surgeon named Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, who has Savant Syndrome as he struggles in a new work environment at the St. Bonaventure Hospital. While he has escaped his troubled past, new battles arise when his co-workers despise his presence and superior intellect. The only person willing to fight for Murphy is his childhood mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman, who winds up serving as president of the same hospital. Skeptical of the fact that a surgeon with autism will do more good than harm, Murphy must use his extraordinary medical skills and intuition to save peoples’ lives while challenging the stereotypical doubts of his fellow colleagues.

In the first scene, viewers already get a look inside the mind of Murphy. Taking place in an airport, they see him overwhelmed with large crowds and a noisy atmosphere. His vision fades in and out, becoming blurry and then clear as he takes in deep breaths. This is the first snippet inside his autistic nature. During this same scene, a young boy becomes injured when a glass sign falls from the ceiling, causing shards of glass to fly everywhere. Although there is another doctor in the crowd who steps forward, Murphy immediately notices the doctor is putting pressure in the wrong place, which will kill the child.

This is the second glimpse into Murphy’s mind. Instead of recalling facts off the top of his mind, Murphy uses a photographic memory to find the solution to every problem. When he starts to think, medical definitions, paragraphs and diagrams appear on the television screen, as if he is reading from a textbook in his mind. Once he has found the necessary information, he perfectly executes the procedure in a calm, collected manner with little emotion.

Another thing that arises from this scene is Highmore’s superb acting skills. Throughout this hour, Murphy had a total of three facial expressions. His indifferent, content face, his overwhelmed, anxiety-stricken face and his relieved, happy face. His facial structure may have changed a hair between these three faces, but the thousands of emotions viewers received from them was astonishing. They felt and could recognize every single thing Murphy was feeling without him altering his face drastically. You’d have to be an exceptionally talented actor to pull this off.

Another stunning way viewers get to see into Murphy’s past is through flashbacks. Whenever more detail was needed to explain his actions, a flashback would give them a peek into his troubled childhood. Through these scenes we found out Murphy was physically abused by his inconsiderate father, who killed his pet bunny out of anger. His little brother took care of Murphy and took on the “big brother” role, convincing Murphy that running away together is the best option both for them and their parents.

While living in an abandoned school bus, his brother provides food for both of them and even presents Murphy with his first play doctor’s kit, something that later turns into his niche. The relationship between the siblings is what makes the flashback of his little brother falling to his death so heartbreaking. Murphy is left alone in the world to figure out how to live with his disability and syndrome all on his own.

Although there are few things wrong with this show, the main issue I have is that it seems to be a bad ripoff of “Grey’s Anatomy.” The medical procedures look way too unrealistic to be considered a medical show. Also, the acting by the other actors are less than exceptional. It seems that the writers spent so much time perfecting the script, they forgot to hire adequate actors, besides Highmore, to fulfill the roles. This probably explains why the show received a 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it also received an 8.6 on IMDb and a 4.9 on Facebook. You’ll probably have to watch the rest of the season to see if this show meets your standards.

All in all, the “Good Doctor” has loads of potential. The content is there and the directors are doing a great job thinking through the direction the show is moving in. However, the execution from the cast is subpar, especially when put up against Highmore. That being said, I can’t wait to see how this show develops throughout this season and series in general.