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TV Series Review

Dr. Shaun Murphy's bedside manner is a little … lacking.

Shaun doesn't cotton to platitudes or careful responses. Want reassurance? See a counselor. Need a well-timed joke to ease the nerves? See a comedian. Ask him how much time you got, and he'll tell you—right down to the second. Oh, he's plenty nice—as gentle a soul, really, as you'd like to meet. But Shaun lands on the autism spectrum. So while he can deal with people, he doesn't understand them all that well.

But Shaun's autism comes with a special gift, too: savant syndrome, something that makes him a particularly gifted anatomical fix-it man. Sure, Shaun might not have a great way with people, but when it comes to mucking around in people's innards—their veins and brains, their lungs and spleens—Shaun's exactly who you'd want executing those procedures.

Nothing Bonaventured, Nothing Gained

It was difficult convincing the good folks at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital that Shaun would be, well, a good doctor.

And frankly, some still aren't so sure.

Dr. Andrews, former head of St. Bonaventure's surgery division and temporary hospital president, admits that Shaun's gift may allow him to see things that other doctors might miss. But he wonders whether that gift will make up for Shaun's peculiar challenges: Sure, his abilities might save a patient, but his autism might kill some, too.

Dr. Neil Melendez, Shaun's surgical supervisor, shares Andrews' misgivings. Yes, Shaun's a nice kid. But as far as Neil's concerned, the only thing the young doctor should be trusted to do is operate the surgical suction machine.

But Shaun has allies, too. Dr. Aaron Glassman, the former hospital president, has known him since he was 14. And Aaron put his career on the line to hire the kid. Dr. Claire Brown, a resident as concerned with easing the soul as healing the body, believes Shaun brings a lot to the operating table, too.

For all of that, however, Shaun's future at St. Bonaventure really rests with just one person: Shaun himself.

Say Awwww

Let me be honest with you: I get a little sick of so many preternaturally-gifted-but-socially-inept protagonists. We've already seen it in Monk. Elementary. Scorpion. Etc. We've even already seen a super-talented-but-incredibly-irksome doctor come and go. House, anyone?

But The Good Doctor on ABC feels different to me.

Shaun may be blunt. He dislikes being hugged. But he's very different from the churlish Dr. House or the irascible Mr. Holmes. Shaun actually cares for people. He may not understand them completely, but he's as nice and kind as any character I've seen on television recently.

That said, the show does have some problems and pitfalls. Sexual dalliances take place in odd hospital rooms and closets. Bad language can spring up from time to time, and scenes in the operating room (and, sometimes, elsewhere) don't spare much expense in terms of blood. We see cuts and gashes and organs and goo and lots and lots of hemoglobin.

But despite those admitted excesses, The Good Doctor is, at its core, aspirational television. Shaun and his well-meaning associates try to do the very best job they can every day, even if they differ on how to get there. And in so doing, they encourage us to do the same.

During the first episode, Shaun tells a panel of hospital personnel why he decided to be a surgeon: because he watched his brother (and his pet rabbit) die. "They should have become adults," he says. "They should have had children of their own and loved those children. And I want to make that possible for other people."

Good doctor indeed.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Sept. 23, 2019: "Disaster"
Sept. 24, 2018: "Hello"
The Good Doctor: Mar. 12, 2018 "Pain"
The Good Doctor: Sept 25, 2017 "Burnt Toast"



Readability Age Range



Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy; Richard Schiff as Dr. Aaron Glassman; Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews; Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez; Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne; Chuku Modu as Dr. Jared Unger; Beau Garrett as Jessica Preston; Graham Verchere as Young Shaun and Will Yun Lee as Alex Park; Christina Chang as Dr. Audrey Lim; Paige Spara as Lea Diallo; Fiona Gubelmann as Dr. Morgan Reznick






Record Label




On Video

Year Published


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