How The Good Doctor responds to and moves on from House

the good doctor house md david shore shaun murphy greg house hugh laurie freddie highmore

It’s not difficult to read The Good Doctor as something of a spiritual sequel to House; indeed, the programme almost asks you to. Certainly, the two dramas share particular thematic concerns. Both are about brilliant doctors positioned as liminal figures, using medical drama as a lens to advance a character study. Their eponymous stars are, if not isolated, placed at the periphery of society: in House, because of House’s misanthropy, borne of his chronic pain and depression; in The Good Doctor, it’s because Shaun Murphy is neuro-divergent.

Where House had a vein of nihilism running through it, however, The Good Doctor is a fundamentally more hopeful programme. This is inarguably the biggest difference between the two shows, each with almost diametrically opposed central perspectives forming. As stated, House always had a vein of nihilism running through it – a product of the eponymous character’s misanthropy, and his distrust and often disdain of those around him. There’s a certain cynicism to House, a programme generally disposed to reach for the dour note and underscore a sense of world-weary scepticism. The Good Doctor, meanwhile, is decidedly more sentimental in approach, more inclined to find and dwell on a positive note – a programme that finds value in life and in people, rather than just pain.

It took me a little while to get into The Good Doctor, admittedly; at first, it felt more than a little… well, rubbish.

Quickly, though, I began to appreciate it more – not just because it improved (it did) but because I realised just how it was being positioned as a spiritual sequel to one of my favourite programmes, House. This is a series in constant conversation with its predecessor – in terms of characters, themes and plotlines – and The Good Doctor ultimately makes a much more hopeful and inclusive statement than House did.

In the end, I’m quite pleased with how the article turned out – it was something that had been gestating for a while before I eventually came to write it, so it was good to get it down onto the page. (I’d meant to edit together a nice image of House and Shaun together, but I couldn’t get it to look nice, which is a shame.) I suspect I’ll end up returning to the ideas I sketched out above at some point; like I said, I really do love House, and I think one day I might quite like to do a podcast or blog series about the show – and, on the basis of that first season, any critical analysis of House that didn’t go on to mention The Good Doctor would be incomplete.

(I do feel, though, that I should also link to the following accounts of The Good Doctor by some writers with autism, simply because that’s a perspective I lack and it’s one that needs to be acknowledged in any discussion of the show.)

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | General TV Index

Is a sequel to The Night Manager a good idea?

the night manager tom hiddleston hugh laurie olivia colman tom hollander elizabeth debicki bbc one hd john le carre

For one thing, one has to consider the integrity of the piece – given the ending of the first series, what reason is there to reunite our three leads again? It’s obvious that this is happening because of the success of the first series, and it’d be churlish to denigrate the follow-up on that basis – but the question as to whether it’s the only reason for a sequel is worth asking nonetheless.

Perhaps I’m just biased – after all, I was one of the few people who didn’t love The Night Manager, or even particularly like it. From the nasty fridging as the show began, to the thin writing and poor characterisation of Tom Hiddleston’s Jonathon Pine, there were quite a few flaws to the show that stood in the way of my enjoyment of it. And, indeed, they continue to stand in the way of my interest in a sequel.

Short answer: Probably not.

Long answer? Well…

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | General TV Index