The Good Doctor is too melodramatic to be fun: EW review
The ABC series drops Freddie Highmore's autistic surgeon into the midst of a soapy, Shondabulous workplace.
See the TV hospital, all lust and backstabbery. “We don’t have a relationship, we have sex,” one hot doc tells another hot doc, pre-surgery, post-coitus. “You’re only in that room because your grandfather founded this hospital,” says the hospital President to the board member, who’s sleeping with the chief surgeon, who’s only cocky because he’s gotta save lives, dammit!
Into this Shondabulous promised land wanders Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. It’s a complex neurological foundation, so cue tragic-origin flashbacks and CSI-style X-ray effects! Highmore aims for sensitivity with his portrayal. But despite his careful portrayal of Murphy’s condition, there’s something unconvincing about how The Good Doctor beams its good doctor into the show’s world.
He arrives at the San Jose airport just in time to save the life of a child injured in a freak accident. At that. Precise. Moment, across town, Shaun’s mentor Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) is making a profound appeal to the board of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital to accept Shaun as a surgeon. And right as the Board is deciding to deny Shaun, someone runs in declaring that there’s some handsome young doctor trending on social media. “You need to go online!” the Board is told, “The YouTube clip already has over 200,000 views!”
It’s a hambone line, and the rest of the premiere is almost as cheesy. The various cuts to Shaun’s tragic youth suggest tragedy that the show’s glibness can only render in the broadest strokes; bad dad, kind brother, dead symbolic rabbit. It’s actually a relief when the show separately establishes itself as a sudsy Diet Grey’s Anatomy riff, with British actress Antonia Thomas as an ambitious doctor-who-cares and Nicholas Gonzalez as a McDream-ish surgeon-who-doesn’t.
But it’s Shaun’s DIY airport surgery, with a box cutter and a bottle of heavy-proof alcohol, that really brings the show to life. Embrace your destiny, Good Doctor! Become Medical MacGyver! C+
The Good Doctor