The ABC’s show The Good Doctor 2017 has been pulling in millions and millions of viewers and soaring ratings. When something becomes so popular, one may ask why. What is it about this particular show that people love so much? And thanks to streaming technology, I was able to sit down and check it out from the start.
I wasn’t impressed.
While The Good Doctor full movie is far from the worst thing I’ve seen on the big TV networks recently, it is dull, uninspired and formulaic. The characters are, for the most part, cliches you can find in other medical dramas. The stories unfold in a familiar unthreatening way that offers little in the way of surprise or suspense. But the show does have one very big important thing to it: Freddie Highmore’s brilliant performance as the lead character, Dr. Shaun Murphy.
The series unspools like this: Shaun is young man living with autism. He also has savant syndrome, is extremely intelligent and has an eidetic memory. Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff), the president of a prestigious hospital and Shaun’s benefactor, brings him onto the surgical staff despite the misgivings of hospital officials. As Shaun struggles to acclimate himself, his peers learn to deal with him and the drama unfurls.
This series felt a lot like “House”, if the doctor with all the communications problems was a resident rather than the head guy. Each show we are presented with several situations, and our characters have to roll with a mess of complications before everything is solved. Shaun isn’t as rude or narcissistic as House, but he rubs others the wrong way just the same.
And those surrounding Shaun aren’t all that interesting. You have Shaun’s boss, Dr. Melendez (played by Nicolas Gonzalez), an arrogant jerk who tolerates Shaun’s presence. You have Dr. Brown (Antonia Thomas), one of Shaun’s peers and the only one who seems interested in figuring him out. Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper) is another self-important surgeon who has his eyes on Glassman’s job. And there’s Glassman himself, the devoting father figure risking his career for Shaun.
Whenever the focus is on one of these characters, it drags. But when Highmore appears on-screen, things become much more compelling. Highmore’s performance is without doubt the greatest thing about The Good Doctor full movie 2017, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Emmy Award love in his future. Shaun is extremely smart, but equally incapable of functioning. He can get derailed by the most random things, like the sight of a Slushie machine or flashing police car lights. Highmore gives us all this, but he also gives us moments where me know he’s learning, as well as a lot of vulnerability. Shaun is one hard character to deal with, but easy to pull for.
In the end, I have a hard time recommending a show that did so little for me. Despite Highmore’s performance, the interplay between Shaun and Dr. Brown and the very occasional laugh, there wasn’t anything that really help my interest. Nothing that would make me choose The Good Doctor 2017 over the heaps of other hospital dramas available on TV and streaming services like Netflix. But if characters in scrubs spewing out medical terminology and trying to maintain their relationships are the thing you love, The Good Doctor movie 2017 fills that prescription pretty well.
I decided to tune in The Good Doctor full movie to see what all the fuss is about. By fuss, I mean a mixture of critical disdain and mass appeal: The fresh ABC medical drama was reported to be outdrawing even such network stalwarts as “The Big Bang Theory,” and reviewers were left amazed. At Rotten Tomatoes, the show about an autistic surgical resident with savant syndrome was sitting on an unhappy 44 percent rating Thursday afternoon.
Yet more people are tuning in to follow the adventures of Dr. Shaun Murphy at the gleaming St. Bonaventure Hospital in Silicon Valley than are watching Rick Grimes and his depleted band of survivors of the Walking Dead zombie apocalypse. Maybe it’s a blip; maybe it’s the start of something new. Either way, critics are trying to figure out the show’s attraction.
Here’s my simple answer: The Good Doctor full movie is sweet.
I can’t think of another word. I don’t mean the show is sweet in the sense of being saccharine or treacly; I mean sweet in the sense of being gentle and innocent. There’s nothing cynical or knowing about The Good Doctor movie. It doesn’t pretend to be anything but nice.
People are looking for an escape from their cares. With He Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named fulminating from the White House, and the campus left frequently announcing new categories of people we’re all supposed to hate, it’s natural to seek an island of calm. But where? Not social media, where too much of what passes for conversation is little more than unthinking vituperation. Regular readers know that I love film, but the movies are grimmer than ever: Serial killers are on the loose, the planet is being threatened with destruction, people are being blown to bits on the battlefield. Long time ago, sports brought about a reliable feast for those who sought escape. Nowadays, my goodness, it’s hard to gorge on the games without imbibing a solid dose of politics.
People are tired, and looking for something cheery. That’s what The Good Doctor 2017 gives them. The show was created by David Shore, who brought us the long-running Fox medical drama “House” Like Shore’s earlier program, The Good Doctor movie features a misunderstood medical genius who could save lives if only the hospital bureaucracy would let him. The difference was that Dr. Gregory House was a pill-popping misanthrope. Dr. Shaun Murphy … isn’t. He’s a naif who just wants to do good.
Murphy isn’t right all the time. He’s young and makes mistakes. But his idealism has an allure, and if the arguments over whether to allow him to perform surgery or deal with patients are a little stilted and obvious, Murphy himself never quite is. His inability to lie, for instance, would have led Dr. House to fire him immediately. To the viewer, however, Murphy’s emotional world is fascinating.
Obviously, I can’t speak to the accuracy of the show’s portrayal of autism. Nor can I say anything about the accuracy of the medicine. I will confess that I was a bit puzzled by an early episode, where Murphy and another resident performed emergency surgery to remove a clot from a liver that was already packaged and on its way to a transplant recipient. They undertook the procedure outdoors, atop the trunk of a police car, using, among other tools, a drinking straw. I have no idea whether what we saw on the screen would be practicable, but it did lead to a neat philosophical point at the end of the episode.
Yes, it’s a little weird watching the actor who played a young Norman Bates wander a hospital saving lives. Yes, the animations that are meant to show the workings of Murphy’s mind can be distracting. Yes, the showrunners could safely dispense with the constant flashbacks — I think we get Murphy now — and use the freed-up time to develop the other characters, who at this point are paper-thin. (In Shore’s masterful “House,” by the end of the pilot we knew three of the characters really, really well — and there was still time for the doctors to solve the medical mystery.)
But these are quibbles. Nobody is confusing The Good Doctor movie with “The Sopranos.” People like the new show because it provides an escape from madness swirling around so much of life. The Good Doctor full movie isn’t likely to wind up in the television hall of fame, but it’s sweet — relentlessly, hopelessly, maddeningly sweet. And right now, sweet is what we need.