As Daniel Dae Kim departs his role on Hawaii Five-0, he embraces his producing career as EP of ABC’s new offering, The Good Doctor. The show centers on Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a pediatric surgeon diagnosed with autism. Having seen the show in its original 2013 incarnation in Korea, Kim felt it would work well for American viewers and set about developing it in the U.S.
“I loved the message of it, it was a very familiar genre to American audiences in that it’s a medical show,” he said. “That was the impetus for me to try and bring it over.”
The Good Doctor has some parallels with the show House, EP David Shore admitted. “There was speculation as we went along about Dr. House and we certainly didn’t shy away from that,” he said. “The characters though ultimately couldn’t be more different.”
Shore was quick to point out that much research and consultation was done before representing a person living with autism. “We saw a lot of doctors, we consulted with people, we’ve got people on the spectrum who we’re working with,” he said. “But he is a specific character, he’s not there to represent autism, he’s there to represent Dr. Shaun Murphy.”
Dr. Murphy exhibits savant traits, which are a highly unusual aspect of autism, but Shore assured reporters the show would work hard not to contribute to stereotyping. “Savant syndrome is rare, even within the community of people with autism,” he said, “I think it’s a legitimate question, and we want to make sure that we don’t represent him as being representative in any way.”
For Highmore, the character was a welcome change from his work on Bates Motel.
“It’s nice to save people after years of killing them,” he joked. “The character of course was a fascinating one, and it all starts on the page, what we are trying to do is moving away from perhaps the stereotypical versions of people with autism that have been shown on television and in certain movies in the past, the number one thing being that they are somehow devoid of emotion, that they don’t experience as broad a range of emotions as neurotypical people do, and of course that’s complete nonsense.”
Richard Schiff as Dr. Ira Glassman also feels the project is an important representation of autism. “I have a history with this particular challenge of autism with a couple of different people in my life,” he said. “I personally appreciate any person in real life that steps out of their way to save a life, so to speak, even if it’s psychologically.”