Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Good Doctor

On Monday night I happened upon the television show "The Good Doctor".  Since the story centers around an autism savant as a surgical resident, I'm surprised I hadn't taken the time to watch it before.

A disclaimer before I go on....the lead character of Shaun Murphy is a much different person than what I have experienced Tyler to be.  I am not familiar with savants, and I have no way to judge the accuracy of the portrayal.  I can merely offer my gut feeling on the show..

The show that I watched was extremely well acted.  Freddie Highmore is obviously very interested in bringing dignity and realism to the role.  The acting around him is also very good.  I am a particular fan of Richard Schiff, who captures the essence of what it is like to communicate with someone who deals with life on a completely different plain.

The episode I watched dealt with Shaun and his dying father.  Admittedly, there were areas where I doubted the characters ability to process such complex feelings in order to make some of the decisions that he did.  We seemed to go from Shaun being unable to break from his set behaviors, to an ability to compromise, and back again.  But there were just as many times that I found myself recognizing his behaviors, and finding Tyler in them.  One in particular was Shaun as a boy unable to cross a stream, and his father essentially faced with forcing him over to the other side in order for life to continue on.  It was a very real moment for me.  Many times in Tyler's life we have had to swallow a difficult pill and do something we knew he wouldn't like for the sake of life continuing in a forward direction.  Another such instance was Shaun's inability to deal with some overwhelming emotions and becoming physically injurious to himself.

We have to keep in mind that the show has to tell a story, and it has to have a flow.  The writers have to be given a certain amount of latitude to allow the character to act and react in some unnatural ways to make this happen.  A one hour show about an autistic man rocking and playing Mozart on the piano would be compelling for a short time, but ultimately wouldn't be something to tune into every week.  I think the Good Doctor tries to strike a balance between realism and storytelling that wouldn't always go well together.

As for the concept itself, like with my feelings about Rainman, I have no problem.  These stories are bringing autism to the forefront of the viewers minds.  As long as they are not wildly inaccurate or remotely disrespectful, I think they are fine.  We are still very much in the early stages of really understanding the real life drama behind such characters, so any interest shown towards it is a good thing.

I'd be interested to know if any of you follow the program and have any feelings on the subject.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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