'Instant Family' Will Pull Your Heartstrings in a Good Way

What started as an older man’s joke about wanting to adopt a five-year-old instead of starting from scratch, Instant Family was inspired by writer and director Sean Anders’ real-life family. Pete (Mark Wahlberg) “accidentally” makes the joke to his wife Ellie (Rose Byrne) not wanting to be become that “old dad” everyone knows and before you know it, the two are traveling down to road toward foster care adoptions. After numerous classes taught by two caseworkers (Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro), the two meet three kids at a “foster fair” gathering. Lizzy (Isabela Moner) is the 15-year-old older sister who has protectively looked after her younger siblings Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz) while their mother has been incarcerated. She’s a tough cookie with trust issues. Juan is both accident prone and highly sensitive and Lita is super sweet as long as she gets to eat potato chips at every meal. Almost overnight they become an “instant family” and everything g…

Freddie Highmore Steals the Show in 'The Good Doctor'

"The Good Doctor" review
Freddie Highmore and Nicholas Gonzalez in The Good Doctor. (ABC)


After being promoted heavily by ABC for months now, audiences will get their first look at the new medical drama series, The Good Doctor, to see if it worth the wait. The show is from David Shore who created the FOX hit series, House and Daniel Dae Kim known for his acting work in Lost and the new version of Hawaii Five-O.

The new series centers on a young new surgeon, Dr. Shaun Murphy (played by Freddie Highmore) who has autism and has been diagnosed with savant syndrome meaning that he is pretty much a walking medical textbook. Upon the urging of Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), Murphy relocates to Glassman’s hospital to join the hospital’s surgical unit. However, knowing Murphy’s issues, the Glassman’s colleagues have their doubts about hiring the young man and challenge Glassman before bringing him on. Meanwhile, as you no doubtably seen from the millions of commercials, Murphy is late to his interview due to a medical emergency that happens at the neighby airport. Like Sherlock, Murphy can “see” things that others cannot. The graphics give viewers an idea of how Murphy’s brain works, but it still seems complicated.

Having starred in Bates Motel and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is no surprise how excellent the actor is in portraying the autistic doctor. His mannerisms and speech patterns are spot on even if some of his lines are a little off. The line about one doctor being arrogant seems realistic. The following line asking if that arrogance makes that doctor a better surgeon does not. Still, you know that the hospital will end up learning more from Murphy than he will learn from the others.

Though the show appears to be all about Dr. Shaun Murphy (from watching the pilot episode) it appears that the show may head to become more of an ensemble piece given how many characters they introduce during the pilot. Even if some of those characters are not too original. During the first few minutes of the episode, we are introduced to two friends-with-benefits doctors canoodling in the one of the side rooms in the hospital because it just isn’t a hospital drama without one or more staff members sleeping around. The staff has its share of know-it-all doctors too. Then there are the usual “we’ve never done anything like this before” doctor speech from some of the others. Other characters are brought in for a line or two without much else to do. This makes the show feel lopsided and unfortunately, the show becomes less interesting whenever Highmore is not present.

The highlight, of course, is seeing how Glassman and Murphy interact together. The show shares a few flashbacks to show how to the two men met years earlier. No matter how much trouble Murphy is bound to get into, you know that Glassman will also be on his side – except for the eventual episode where he’ll say something to the effect of, “I just can’t clean up your mess this time, Shaun…” The first episode is uneven with a lot of talk and banter between the hospital, but not enough action. Maybe that will improve with future episodes as this show has a lot of potential. In short, The Good Doctor is good, not great. At least, not just yet.

The series also stars Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez, Chuku Modu as Dr. Jared Kalu, Beau Garrett as Jessica Preston, Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews and Tamlyn Tomita as Allegra Aoki.

The Good Doctor airs on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

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