This review contains minor spoiler for season one of The Good Doctor.
ABC’s The Good Doctor is the american adaption of the Korean drama with the same name by Park Jae-bum. This series is developed by David Shore and it tells the story of Shaun Murphy, a person with amazing medical capabilities who happens to have autism. The series stars Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Gonzalez, Antonia Thomas, Chuku Modu, Hill Harper and Richard Schiff.
I started watching this show at the time the mid-season finale aired, so I binged the first ten episodes in like three days. I was hooked, I loved the characters and the story and I usually don’t watch medical shows, this is my first one so it’s a breath of fresh air for me. I’d say that these first ten episodes where really inspirational in tone, they showed how Shaun settles in and how everyone in his group is accepting him. If you haven’t noticed by now I have been saying the first ten episodes, the reason being since I caught up with the show, the second half of the season felt really different, in my opinion the quality dropped.
In the first half there is a great episode called “Not Fake” where the hospital is given a large task which is a bus load of people in a bus crash. This episode really highlighted the intensity and immense responsibilities these doctors have to bear. In the second half of the season the show becomes a patient of the week type of show which really can become repetitive and it basically becomes a game where you guess if the patients will make it or not.
One flaw which I found throughout the whole season was the cheap emotion this show carried sometimes. In the first episode it’s revealed that Shaun’s brother dies. The way it’s carried out was the problem. The motivation was there and it is actually good writing, it’s the way it was carried out which made it a bit cheap, it felt like we had to feel for Shaun, although Highmore did an amazing job and actually made me for his character. This is not the only case of cheap emotion we get. Many times there is a patient who has a life threatening condition and they force a lot of emotion out of it. There is also the cliched backstory in some cases. The best example of this is the second to last episode: “Smile”. However this isn’t the case for every episode, there are multiple cases where the episode isn’t drowned in cliches for example the episode “Apple” where a racist patient is being treated by a dark-skinned doctor which made for some great writing.
Now for the positive side of this review. Right off the bat, the performances are amazing. Everyone is great particularly Highmore, Thomas and Schiff. Besides playing Norman Bates, I’d say this is the role he’ll be recognized for, he does an amazing job. His performance really shines when Shaun does something he isn’t used to or when he experiences something new for example when he buys the TV he wanted you could really believe the child-like joy he had. Thomas also does an amazing job with Claire, I would have never thought she was British. She really shines in the more emotional scenes. The same goes for Schiff especially in the episode “Sacrifice” and the most importantly the finale “More”.
What I love about this show is how heartwarming it can be. The relationship between Highmore and Schiff’s characters is the best aspect of this show and I loved how in the end this show is essentially about them. So when their friendship is tested in the mid-season finale, it made for some intense moments between them and the actors pulled it off with flying colors seeing the chemistry they have. Also even though I did say the show could be cliched sometimes, you can’t help but smile when the patients receive great news at the end, or actually feel bad for them if they got bad news. I also love how this show brings awareness to autism, also Shaun Murphy is a great role model not just for autistic people but for everyone.
One of the show’s best aspects is also how creative it is. When I said it became a patient of the week type of show, I didn’t mean it in a completely negative way. The writers did a good job of not making it feel boring. I’ve heard people joking about how they are medical experts because they’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy or The Good Doctor but jokes aside this show is actually educational in some aspects. You could learn a few things from this show. I remember one day in English class we were learning Morphemes and I mistakenly wrote morphine. Not saying that was an example but I thought I’d share that story in this part of the review.
For the finale itself, I was really looking forward to it but I was surprisingly disappointed. I thought they would focus a lot on Dr. Glassman but instead they put more attention on the side plot with some patient who ate detergent. They did however do a good job on the emotional side of the episode considering the little time they had to show it. Schiff and Highmore delivered in this episode as usual and I love how their relationship is explored in this episode. The final scene, I’d say is the most emotionally charged scene in the entire scene. It’s touching and it means something to the characters.
Overall I mostly enjoyed this first season of The Good Doctor. Will definitely be watching season 2. I would suggest this show to anyone because another great thing about the show is that it doesn’t have a demographic, it’s for everyone. I mean don’t watch it if you’re below 11/12 but higher than that is okay. In the end, it’s a show about hope, acceptance, inspiration and family. I really do hope everyone gives this show a try.