ABC’s The Good Doctor boasts an incredible pedigree, a killer cast and a provocative premise — but is it any, you know, any good?
From House creator David Shore, the rookie medical drama — which bowed Monday at 10/9c behind DWTS — stars Bates Motel leading man Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young pediatric surgeon and autistic savant who is about to join the staff of the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. And to say the hospital’s administration is resistant to his controversial hiring is a gargantuan understatement. Lucky for him, he’s got an ally and mentor in the hospital president Aaron Glassman (played by West Wing alum Richard Schiff). It also helps that the nascent MD possesses the kind of coveted medical instincts that saves lives, as we saw in the tense — if slightly contrived — episode-opening sequence set at the only airport in the country with zero emergency services.
While much of the premiere focuses on Murphy’s efforts to save his young patient (first at the airport and then later at San Jose St. Bonaventure, where he faces massive resistance), it also introduces a number of soapy, tonally divergent romantic subplots among the surgical staff (played by CSI: NY’s Hill Harper, Pretty Little Liars‘ Nicholas Gonzalez, Misfits‘ Antonia Thomas and Game of Thrones‘ Chuku Modu).
Childhood flashbacks provide meaningful context for why Highmore’s Murphy was drawn to the medical profession, setting up an emotional, climactic showdown with the still-skittish hospital board, who largely view their potential new charge’s autism as a liability. The episode’s strongest, most rousing moment — and the one that portends very good things for the show — comes in the final moments, when Murphy calls out Gonzalez’s asinine doc in front of a captive audience.
It probably goes without saying but we’ll state it for the record anyway: Highmore is aces throughout. Despite his alter ego’s veneer of chilliness, he manages to make Murphy’s doc wholly sympathetic and root-worthy.
Where do you think The Good Doctor falls on TV’s quality spectrum? Grade the premiere below and then elaborate in the comments!