The Good Doctor, from House’s David Shore, premiered September 25th, on ABC. The show stars Bates Motel’s, Freddie Highmore, who plays autistic savant, Dr. Shaun Murphy.
The show wasted no time in getting us into our hero’s head, opening with Dr. Shaun Murphy dressing, grooming, and packing his rubik’s cubes. He then sets out, following an imaginary, white line. From here, the show follows three converging storylines: flashbacks, Shaun’s life saving heroics, and the staff at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, where Shaun is headed.
Through a series of flashbacks, we’re given Shaun’s backstory a little at a time. We find out that he grew up in an abusive home, that his father killed his pet rabbit, and that his younger brother took up for Shaun and tried to take care of him. The two of them ran away from home and ended up living in a bus. When Shaun asks if they have a tv, his brother tells him they’re poor and can’t afford one. He then gives Shaun a gift: a plastic doctor’s tool. Perfect. And sadly, we learn that Shaun’s brother died in a horrible fall.
Inside the airport, a terrible accident nearly kills an 8 year old boy, and while another doctor attempts to save him, Dr. Murphy steps up and tells him, “You’re killing him.” Shaun takes over and we get to see his skills and how his brilliant mind works. The boy isn’t out of the woods yet, though, and at the hospital Shaun is literally thrown out in the rain while trying to save him, until at last he is invited back in where he helps the surgical team and saves the day.
THE HOSPITAL STAFF
We get a peek at some of the key players, the skilled but sometimes naughty—and haughty—surgeons at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
We also sit in with the Board, where Dr. Aaron Glassman, played by Richard Schiff, passionately tries to convince the others that they need to hire Dr. Murphy. Dr. Glassman has known Shaun since he was 14 years old, and he believes in the young surgeon. There is much resistance,however—until they get to see a video of Dr. Murphy saving that boy at the airport.
Things are tied up when Shaun is brought before the Board and asked why he wanted to be a surgeon. After a final heartbreaking flashback of his brother, Shaun tells them about “the day the rain smelled like ice cream” and his bunny went to heaven in front of his eyes, and “the day the copper pipes in the old building smelled like burnt food” and his brother went to heaven in front of his eyes, and that he couldn’t save them. He says they they didn’t have a chance to grow up and have lives, and he wants to give that chance to others. Plus, he tells them, “I want to make a lot of money so I can have a television.” And with that, Dr. Shaun Murphy is tearfully welcomed to the team.
The pilot episode closes on a dramatic note when Dr. Murphy is assisting in surgery and is told by Dr. Melendez that he will only be allowed to do suction. Shaun’s reply? “You’re very arrogant. Do you think that helps you be a good surgeon? Does it hurt you as a person? Is it worth it?”
My thoughts on The Good Doctor? I like it. I have never been able to settle down into Medical Procedurals, they’ve always come across as too dry and clinical for my taste. But The Good Doctor is different. There’s the feeling that Dr. Murphy’s arrival is not only going to bring changes to the hospital, but it’s going to change the lives of all those around him, as well.
What about you? Did you catch the pilot episode? What did you think?
The Good Doctor continues Monday, October 2nd, 10/9 C, on ABC.