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The Good Doctor - Pilot - Advance Preview: Beautiful

"Letting things get personal is how we make it matter."

Burnt Food

"Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join the prestigious St. Bonaventure hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, his only advocate, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), challenges the skepticism and prejudices of the hospital’s board and staff when he brings him in to join the team."

Some of you will sample this show for Freddie Highmore, and he totally deserves it, but I promise you, he’s not the only reason you’ll stay, and the fact that it's written by David Shore (House MD), can't hurt either. The Good Doctor takes its time, something not many pilots can say, and most should be able to, maybe some feel the need to rush more than others because of publicity, budgets or lack of recognizable stars, but some that have everything in their favor choose to rush anyways, so it’s still commendable when they don't. This doesn't mean the Pilot has a slow pace, a lot happens here and not one second is wasted.

We are introduced to Shaun's abilities when he's at the airport, arriving to start his new job, when a kid's life is in danger he doesn't rush in at first, another doctor takes the lead, but quietly, from a few feet away, Dr. Shaun Murphy informs him he’s killing the kid instead of saving him. Here's is when we first see how brilliant Highmore's portrayal is, the way he looks when he’s focused, like he’s taking a stroll down the park, wondrous at everything his mind shows him and pieces together, and the way they show the connections his mind makes (straight out of BBC’s Sherlock) is pretty cool too.

We do get told a fair deal about Shaun, about his possible difficulties, but it's all done so well, the details about his condition are presented to us by the board's debate on whether to hire him or not. As for the personal side, some flashbacks help us get a better understanding of him. He has Autism and Savant Syndrome, which means he has difficulties processing things like almost everyone else, especially social communication because of the Autism, but because of the Savant Syndrome, he’s able to process some things much faster and notice details others don’t, his brain doesn’t enter that adrenaline rush, it lets him see the whole picture but it has its pros and cons.

The board has a very interesting dynamic that looks like they will actually develop, which is not something that happens very often in many shows, they talk about boards like a bunch of greedy evil people with barely any other purpose than making things hard for our heroes, but here there are nuances, people that don’t like each other, people who are interested in getting both sides to healthy middle, the financial and the humanitarian side, they insult each other and they laugh at and with each other. The typical hospital drama and romance are not missed with some of the interns, but it's far from the main focus, with Claire Browne played by Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Lovesick) becoming a favorite very fast. She’s an awesome kick ass woman, has an amazing handle on patients and is a bit of a playgirl.

The characters they had time for, were incredibly developed, and multidimensional. Particularly Claire, Dr. Horace Andrews (Hill Harper – Limitless, Homeland), Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez – Pretty Little Liars, The Flash) and Dr. Aaron Glassman, wonderfully played by Richard Schiff (Ballers, The Affair, Murder in the First). And those who didn’t get to shine that much will probably do so later, like Tamlyn Tomita’s Allegra Aoki (Teen Wolf, Heroes), Beau Garret’s Jessica Preston (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), and Irene Keng’s Dr. Elle McLean.

This show will be a procedural, yes, and though sometimes that can become an ill received word, this one’s a keeper, it doesn’t feel like just an easy way to make money for the companies, it tries to set up discussions that are necessary, it presents realistic obstacles, people who can be arrogant, or assholes at times, but are not necessarily bad people, or bad at their jobs, they’re just people, all of them flawed, some more than others, but even the character’s you would expect to be perfect, like Claire, are just not, and with just a few lines that get perfectly established.

It does go for the feels, at times in predictable ways, but it still touches the perfect buttons. I can think of very few procedurals with this level of character development from the beginning, this is not a throw-away procedural, something to keep in the background while you do other things, it has a depth, a meaning, and feel to it that demands your attention, and yes Freddie Highmore shines, the level of attention to the little details, his repetitive patterns of behavior that become more important as the episode develops, is just one of the better things of his portrayal, he makes us cry, he makes us smile, he makes us laugh, and all while keeping that look, like he’s just taking a stroll down the park. It leaves you with a sense of beauty and wonder about the world that is not to be taken for granted.

"Do you think he’s right?" "I think he’s my boss."

"High functioning, is that our new hiring standard?"

"Everybody loses, eventually."

Catch the official premiere of The Good Doctor Monday September 25th at 10/9c.

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