Monday, September 25, 2017

"The Good Doctor" starts on ABC, with an autistic surgical resident who is lovable


ABC premiered “The Good Doctor”, created by David Shore, tonight with a one-hour Pilot (“Burnt Food”) as resident Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), leaves his home in Cheyenne, WY, leaving behind a matronly tabby cat who seems to have helped raise him. Here’s ABC’s best link, for Autism Speaks. 

When he gets off a plane in California, a teenager is gravely wounded by a falling sign.  Shaun takes over from another doctor and saves the boy’s life, but not before getting into an awkward scuffle with the TSA. 

The hospital board contemplates whether to hire a resident with autism (with a meditation on comparative diversity), which seems more like Asperger’s Syndrome.  Most of incidents in the episode are preceded by flashbacks into his childhood when he was bullied, but was close to his brothers, one of whom dies in a fall in a railroad museum.

Not only does Shaun have a photographic memory but he also is savant, able to recall precise medical details and visualize all internal anatomical structures.  He seems not to react to some social cues because he appeared overstimulated but what his brain processes as “noise”.


But he always seems lovable and sincere.  Oddly, he can call people out for suddenly being rude and be right (almost like in a Ninth Street Center talk group in the 1970s, pretty much the way Paul Rosenfels would have).  It seems that a relationship with him would work unless it subjected him to sudden taboo surprises.
 
At one point Shaun says he wants to make money so he can have a TV set.  That may sound autistic, or maybe he was just being snarky for once. 
  
Sometimes his speech patterns and sentences remind one of Jack Andraka (at Stanford), except that Jack normally would not miss any social cues in common situations. (Jack is an accomplished athlete with his kayaking, but the show leaves the impression that Shaun could probably do something like that, too, maybe that will occur in a later episode.)   Shaun could probably speak publicly OK like in a Ted talk.   Maybe some people would compare his sentences to those of Mark Zuckerberg. Or perhaps Alan Turning, they way he is portrayed in "The Imitation Game".

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