ABC’s new drama “The Good Doctor,” starring Freddie Highmore, airs on Monday nights at 10 p.m. The series opens with Shaun Murphy (Highmore) on his way to start his new surgical residency when he must save the life of a child who has been struck by falling glass that cuts his jugular vein. As the patient lies on the airport floor, bleeding out and not breathing, young Dr. Murphy takes charge. He uses tubing from a soda machine, a bourbon bottle and a knife he steals from the TSA to save the child’s life. This task appears to be nothing short of miraculous.
Dr. Murphy is not your typical doctor. He has autism, but possesses genius-level savant abilities coupled with a photographic memory, allowing him complete recall of medical knowledge.
Highmore, completely convincing as an autistic savant, does an amazing job as the “Good Doctor.” What the character of Dr. Murphy lacks in communication skills, he makes up for with goodness and innocence that emanates from him thanks to Highmore’s acting prowess. However, what Freddie Highmore brings to the series appears to be lacking by the supporting cast who, for the most part, are unlikeable flat characters. The other doctors are concerned about potential liability issues of having an autistic doctor as a new surgical resident and express their concerns by snarling and snapping at the hospital Board of Directors. The only doctor to support Dr. Murphy is the president of the hospital, who has known Murphy since he was 14 years old.
Dr. Murphy’s childhood is briefly explored with several flashbacks. They are sad and predictable scenes. This weak writing lends itself to a mediocre opening for the series. “The Good Doctor” has one thing going for it and that is Freddie Highmore. His acting skills are so superb, that even after a mediocre premiere, I would recommend a second viewing of the series in the hopes that the writing and other characters will improve to the Highmore’s level.