Tuesday, September 26, 2017

First Impressions of "The Good Doctor"

I didn't watch "The Good Doctor" last night, because I go to bed before 10 in order to get up with my wife at 6 on weekday mornings, and I value my sleep more than ever. However, I knew I could watch it on demand on the ABC website later, and I've just done that this morning.

First, I should say that I've been looking ever so forward to this show since I first learned of it months ago and saw the trailer for it. Of course, I've always been fond of good (and even not-so-good) medical TV dramas going all the way back to "Ben Casey." But "The Good Doctor" had two additional factors to commend it. 

First, is the autistic-savant theme which has a special personal resonance, although I don't know if and where I fall on the autistic so-called "spectrum." Or whether I come anywhere close to being a savant. I would say that I don't. I'm just modestly better than average with words and like to learn and think about a lot of things, even though I harbor no illusions that I'm any kind of genius of erudition or in the profundity of my contemplations . And I certainly lack the "Good Doctor's" phenomenal "spatial intelligence." 

Second is the show's pedigree. It was adapted by David Shore from a Korean medical TV drama of the same theme and name. Who is David Shore? The creator of "House." Need I say more? 

Now on to the first episode. My overall impression is a positive one. As I alluded to earlier, I love the theme of the brilliant autistic-savant struggling to fit into a society and medical sub-culture that operate on a different wavelength than his own. 

I identify very strongly with the person who has always been and always will be on the outside looking in at society. I like the way the actor Freddie Highmore plays the title character. Did you know that he's British, like "House" actor Hugh Laurie, and naturally speaks, as you might suspect of a British person, with a strong English accent? 

I like the Richard Schiff character very much. He plays Dr. Glassman, the hospital head who recruited Dr. Murphy and fought against strong and understandable opposition to get him hired. It's said that we each have an archetype--a personification of specific qualities of character--with which we resonate most strongly based on our own nature. Mine is undoubtedly the archetype of the "wise old man" or sage. Not that I consider myself a sage or to even begin to approach sagehood. But I'm most strongly attracted to sage-like characters in life and artistic drama. Dr. Glassman represents this archetype for me.

Then there is the very pretty Antonia Thomas. It looks like she and Dr. Murphy may develop some kind of friendship and perhaps even something deeper over time. She is also British. In fact, there appear to be many very pretty female characters in the show, which certainly makes it even more appealing to me. Some of the male characters, however, appear to be jerks. I like the way Dr. Murphy, lacking as he is in so-called EQ, tells the haughty chief cardiac surgeon, and without any artifice, exactly what he thinks of him at the end of the episode, even if it probably won't enhance his medical career prospects.

I like the intelligence of the dialogue. It's sophisticated and substantive, and I'm hoping it remains at that high level and doesn't devolve into disproportionately long segments of soap operatic personal intrigue.

Indeed, about the only thing I don't particularly like about the show is the way it uses music to melodramatic effect that I find distractingly cloying and certainly unnecessary. But the show looks like it's going to be more than good enough for me to largely overlook that.

What did you think of the first episode?

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