Take Me to the Pilots '17: ABC's 'The Good Doctor'

Show: The Good Doctor (ABC)
The Pitch: "Norman Bates' Anatomy [Only Without Any Killing or Taxidermy]"
Quick Response: There are the things The Good Doctor does very well and the things that make me uncertain. House mastermind David Shore knows how to construct a medical procedure, and the case in the Good Doctor pilot is spaced out and solved with satisfying complications and resolution, while making time for ample character-driven beats. I liked some of the ways that the main character, Freddie Highmore's brilliant doctor with autism and savant syndrome, visualizes the world, while wondering how many of those flourishes were pilot-only and won't return. I never got over feeling that the other doctors, especially Hill Harper's stick-in-the-mud bureaucrat, were approaching autism in a way that seemed maybe 15 years behind the curve within the medical profession, with Richard Schiff as his kindly defender protesting "He's not Rainman. He's high-functioning," as if Rainman were five years old and not nearly 30. All of the conversation explaining the main character's status felt wildly behind the curve, even if the concerns about his aptitude and his limitations are surely still valid. And flashbacks to the main character's origin story, as it were, felt cumbersome and manipulative. Highmore is very, very good, but it's hard to dispute that what he's playing here is one of many variations that he played as Norman Bates during the run of Bates Motel. For regular viewers of that show, this will create involuntary responses that run counter to a lot of what The Good Doctor intends. I assume I'll get over it. The pilot does well in establishing supporting characters played by Antonia Thomas and Nicholas Gonzalez, but is irreparably clumsy in introducing Harper's character. I'm also wary about what the end of the pilot suggests the ongoing series might or might not be.
Desire to Watch Again: Moderate. It has been a while since House was on and I'd have no problems settling in to watch another "exceptional but atypical doctor solves incredible medical mysteries and gets occasional pushback from skeptical peers" show. I'm not as enthusiastic about an "exceptional but atypical doctor faces pushback from skeptical peers and occasionally solves incredible cases" show. See the difference? The pilot is a bit too much the latter. We'll see.

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