By Tania Phillips
THE Good Doctor
Channel 7, 8.35pm Tuesday and Thursday
Having autism and savantism (we’d probably just call it Aspergers in this country) is trendy – very trendy.
There’s a bit of a list starting to develop including characters such as Walter Hill in Joyful Noise, Billy in the new Power Rangers Movie, Jane in Jane Wants a Boyfriend, and most recently in Sam Gardener, a high-functioning teen with autism in Netflix’s Atypical along with British Show the A-Word, the Big Bang Theory and The Imitation Game.
The latest autistic hero is Doctor Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore – Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Bates Motel), a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who starts work at San Jose St Bonaventure Hospital with the support of his mentor and friend Dr Ira Glassman (Richard Schiff) and a support cast so pretty that they look (and act) like they came straight from Gray’s Anatomy.
Based on the 2013 South Korean series of the same name – this version is from the same person (David Shore) who brought you House (and boy does it show). Dr Shaun is a young, prettier, sweeter and less cynical House (though given the amount of bullying he might get curmudgeonly when he gets older). Freddie – like House’s Hugh Laurie – is an English actor playing an American and there are plenty of other characters you’ll recognise too.
But Doctor Shaun is also his own man, a genius with no social skills who is not good at eye contact or communications skills, and yet he makes genius diagnosis and because he is visual (has to picture things in his mind to understand them) which makes for some natty graphics.
It would be easy to dismiss this as “inspiration porn” for people wanting to feel warm and fuzzy about watching a show featuring a young man with autism, to say the cast is too pretty, some of the situations are hard to believe and the main character is “a tick all the boxes autistic” man, but there is still something nice and watchable about this. It’s entertaining and both Highmore and Schiff are great at what they do and while the first episode is kind of meh – there is plenty of scope to grow and it may become something more.
– Tania Phillips