Tag: antonia thomas

The Good Doctor (ABC) pilot preview: Meet House’s spiritual prodigal son

Written and produced by David Shore (House, Sneaky Pete, Law & Order). Based on Park Jae-bum’s South Korean series Goot Dakteo. Excutive produced by Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5-0), Erin Gunn (Battle Creek, Houdini and Doyle), Lindsay GoffmanSebastian Dong Hun Lee (Dramaworld) & David Kim. Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch, The Goldbergs, Sneaky Pete). For Sony Pictures Television, Shore Z & 3 AD. 62 pages. 3rd Network Draft. 1/13/17.

Description: Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon with Savant syndrome, is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital in Santa Fe. Although he has the mentality of a 10 year old, he has the amazing ability of 3D visualisation of the human anatomy and the memory of everything he reads. But can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives and be considered as a “good doctor”? Shaun has six months to prove it…

With Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel, August Rush, Arthur & the Invisibles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Antonia Thomas (Misfits, Lovesick), Nicholas Gonzalez (Pretty Little Liars, Sleepy Hollow, Melrose Place 2009, Resurrection Blvd.), Hill Harper (CSI New York, Limitless, Homeland, Covert Affairs), Richard Schiff (The West Wing, The Affair), Beau Garrett (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Irene Keng (Harry’s Law), Chuku Modu (Snatch)…

 

   

You’ll like if you already like: House, Grey’s Anatomy, Code Black…

Likely timeslot: Monday at 10, Wednesday at 10 or Sunday at 9.

 

I have to be perfectly honest, I considered The Good Doctor as a weak contender and a low priority for a spot in ABC’s schedule next year for four main reasons: 1/ Because of this uninspired and so generic title (we already have The Good Fight & The Good Place by the way) 2/ Because it’s the adaptation of a Korean hit (I have nothing against Korean series but they’re not appealing to me at all) 3/ Because of the concept, that seems standard and tired (he’s a genius but he’s really bad with people) 4/ Because I tend to think ABC doesn’t need any new medical drama as long as Grey’s Anatomy is alive and well (and it is). But that was before Freddie Highmore got cast in the lead role and before I read the script, that really took me by surprise and moved me more than I could have imagined. Now, I feel like there could be a hit hiding in there. On paper, it looks like one. What will it take to become one? As always: a good timeslot, an efficient promotion and a bit of luck.

I was expecting a “medical dramedy soap” but it turned out The Good Doctor is a real medical drama. It has soap elements, it’s true, though ABC seems to have tone them down in their version compared to the Korean one. They changed the end for example, that probably looked inapropriate. Shaun and one of his female colleagues were getting very close, already. Too soon! They’ll get there at some point of course, but they have time (especially if they’re looking for 22-episode seasons). But to give us a Grey’s Anatomy feel anyway, there’s a scene where two characters are making out in the room where the residents are supposed to take a nap, not fuck. Allergics to Shondaland, fear not: it’s not the kind of show where everybody is sleeping around. It has comedic elements too but nothing that will make you laugh out loud. They’re not agressively looking for big funny moments. It’s more subtle than that. A few lines, some situations. A fine balance to make it not too heavy. Because heavy it is, most of the time.

If you’re looking for a “real” medical drama, The Good Doctor is for you. Writer David Shore knows his subject, his 8 seasons of House certainly helped, though he’s a former lawyer, not a former doctor. And it shows. Medicine is raw in the show. The first case involves a little boy who gets hit by a huge glass-covered commercial sign that falls on him at the airport. Shaun happens to be there and does his best to save him while the crowd is watching him. Remember he’s autistic. It’s a double challenge for him. He has no tools and no help. It’s an action-packed and intense teaser that will leave you breathless and begging for more. Medicine is nerdy too in the show. Of course, Shaun is kind of a nerd because of his condition and “savant syndrom” (which is a real thing in case you’re wondering). But Shore has also decided to add something that is not in the original show apparently, what he calls “pop-up medecine”. It’s a card that appears on the screen which is an image from Shaun’s memory. It’s here to provide us information about his current medical though-processes. I’m not totally sold on the idea, I’m not sure it’s necessary, but why not? As long as it doesn’t scare people off… After all, it worked on House with the human body’s 3D internal views.

But let’s get to the best part: the characters. That’s how you recognize a good series. What can be more important than that? They don’t all get the same amount of screentime and they don’t all get to show their potential but they really work as a group and they all have their “moment”. Shaun, as the central character, is in most of the scenes, almost everything revolves around him and his arrival in the hopistal -which doesn’t make everyone happy in the board- but it’s still an ensemble show. There are poignant flashbacks about our awkward but so touching hero during his childhood with his family that are deeply emotional and could leave you in tears. I’m pretty sure Freddie Highmore can do that. He is really talented, as he proved constantly in Bates Motel. To sum up: his father was violent, his mother abandoned him and his brother is no longer with him. Shaun makes a beautiful speech towards the end of the pilot that is heartbreaking. Plus, he forged a special relationship with the president of the hospital, Dr Ira Glassman, the one who helped him get the job, that goes way way back. It’s some kind of mentor for him and those two together should make great television. Remember House and Wilson. Or Cristina and Burke. Or Meredith and Richard. He also has a special connection with Claire Browne, another brilliant young doctor, and there’s a lot of potential there too. Shaun quickly finds his nemesis, Dr. Neil Melendez, the boss of the surgical residents at the hospital. This part comes off as a little forced though, but you will want more anyway.

There’s an urgency and an intensity in The Good Doctor that makes it an efficient and appealing medical drama. It doesn’t really revolutionize the genre but it keeps it fresh and straight-forward. What makes it distinctive is its unlikely hero and all the emotions that he makes you feel just by being him. Can ABC resist to a show they can heavily advertise as “the next great medical drama brought to you by the creator of House“? I don’t think so.

Spark (ABC) pilot preview: Can the new Empire be a dystopian steampunk soap?

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Created and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity, 6 Souls). Directed by James Kent (Testament of Youth, The White Queen, Marchlands). Also exexutive produced by Ian Sander & Kim Moses (Ghost Whisperer, Profiler). For ABC, ABC Studios & Sander/Moses Productions. 58 pages.

Description: It is current day America, but not as we know it. Imagine electricity had never been discovered – in its place, gas and coal run the world and power our everyday devices. Now imagine the amount of power the people who own the gas and coal in this world would command. Two rival families, the Stocktons and the Lavelles, are battling for ages until a rebellious young woman, a tinker named Pin Jones, can level both their empires with a spark of invention…

With Antonia Thomas (Misfits), Regé-Jean Page (Roots, Waterlo Road, Fresh Meat), Tom Brittney (The Five, The Syndicate), Lena Olin (Alias, Welcome to Sweden, The Ninth Gate), Alex Lanipekun (Homeland, 24, MI-5), Austin Hébert, Tracy Ifeachor (The Originals, Crossbones), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Daredevil, ER, Chicago Hope), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Home Fires)…

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Despite the huge success of Hunger Hames worldwide and the honorable results of such movies as Divergent and The Maze Runner –-let’s not forget a few missteps like The 5th Wave recently– the dystopian genre has a hard time existing on television. Which is weird when you think about it since these movies work like series, through multiple episodes and cliffhangers at the end to make you come back the following year. We had The Lottery on Lifetime, if anyone remembers it. Guess not. The excellent The 100 of course. And not much else. Other attempts (The Selection at The CW, Delirium at FOX) were not picked-up to series. And I fear Spark will meet the same end. Even though I’m not totally convinced by its potential, I’d be curious to see what’s gonna happen in case it’s ordered. It could become another huge disappointment like Blood and Oil. Or maybe the new Empire is hiding behind it…

Most of the success of the pilot -a presentation was ordered first but they upped it to a full-length pilot then, which is a good sign– resides in its execution. The setting, the landscapes, as well as the costumes, need to be taken care of properly so that it doesn’t look cheap. The writer has a real vision of how this city and those people should look like in this alternate reality, circa 2016. It’s based on Steampunk, an aesthetic inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. He even offers a “look book” at the end of the script with visuals for cars working with coal cumbustion, underground bar and dance clubs, coffee machines or the heroine’s high heels. They decided to shoot in Prague, Czech Republic, to reduce the costs while most of the cast is coming from Europe, especially the UK. There’s no big name but promising newcomers, like Anthonia Thomas, a mini-Rihanna who was stunning in Misfits. Risky. But in case you haven’t notice, let me break it to you: the show can be labelled as “black”. 5 of the most prominent characters are. Good strategy. ‘cos that’s what it is. I’m probably going too far but imagine ABC slots the show on Wednesday at 10pm after Blackish, when Empire ends on FOX… Wouldn’t it be damn smart? Hire me ABC!

The network describes the show as a lavish primetime soap of passion, greed and hope. It’s true, it is. If it looks new and different from the outside, it’s very classical in the inside. Sometimes, it also feels a bit like a CW show with slightly older characters. Pin Jones is yet another Katniss Everdeen, a whip smart, courageous, independent, kind-hearted girl, soon to be torn between two men and two rival families: her boyfriend Captain Aidan Stockton, a rugged and sexy all man who’s deeply in love with her, he even hides a ring in his drawer; and Alex Lavelle, a more sophisticated handsome man, kind of douchy, who knows exactly who she is when he met her and has an agenda but can’t help liking her more than he should. You get the picture. A good ol’ love triangle. Pin’s mother is dead. Of course. She has a delinquent brother. A loving father. They’re tinkers. So they’re poor. Aidan’s mother is a great bitch. We’ll love hating her. Alex has a brother, who’s a terrible person. And an evil father. And Aidan’s most close friend and colleague happens to be Alex’s brother’s fiancée. Still following? Told you. It really is a soap.

But there’s action too, and many surprises. A few pages in, there’s a huge explosion, that kills someone. And later on, a coal train derails. And other people die. Won’t reveal you more but be sure a lot happens in this pilot. Like… maybe our Pin is on the verge of discovering something huge, that will change the face of humanity as they know it… At first, I had a hard time getting into the script. Those stories about gas and coal are so unsexy and sad. It lacks sparkle, electricity. It takes time before it gets interesting. It takes time before you can connect with the main characters. Too much time probably. But at some point, somehow, it starts to work. And you can see the potential and the emotional strength of this story. It resonates with our past and our present. It’s brighter than it looks. It’s more than a soap.

Spark is certainly a leap of faith for ABC. Sometimes, it’s good to take one. Especially since the network is in a tough situation. Before new boss Channing Dungey gets too scared of screwing her first little victories up –hoping she has some– there’s a window of opportunity to try new things, be bold. Spark is new. Sort of. And bold. A bit. And out of time. Why not giving it a chance?