When you look at all of the new series on the 2017-18 schedule, The Good Doctor stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It’s been an enormous hit for ABC, and really has provided them their first major scripted drama hit since the start of How to Get Away with Murder. (You could consider Designated Survivor one if you really want to, but it faded fast.)
As successful as this show has been though, it took a little bit of work in order to make it happen. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, network programming head Channing Dungey cites series star Freddie Highmore as one of the reasons as to why The Good Doctor is delivering big ratings — especially when it comes to young women. It makes sense — he was enormously popular on Bates Motel, and even before that he was an up-and-coming star in the film world. Getting him to sign on was integral to the show’s success, but that took a little bit of work. He had just finished playing Norman Bates, and it was getting a reduced commitment from 22 episodes maximum to 18 for the first season that got him interested in taking the role on. (Sony Pictures Television co-president Jason Clodfelter claimed to the site that Highmore initially had passed on the project.)
In speaking about this to the site, Highmore explained more of how needing a little bit of time was integral to him figuring out that this show was the right choice for him:
“It wasn’t really a sense of having passed on [the show when it was offered]; [it was] needing more than three days to make the decision to jump from one television show into another one … I finished Bates Motel, and this sort of huge, climactic last scene for Norman [Bates], and three days later I was down in L.A. having read the script and meeting with David Shore.”
With Highmore on board, much of the success of The Good Doctor can likely be attributed just to some super-smart marketing decisions. ABC used his face prominently in promotional materials, and they’ve done a good job establishing the show and its tone as upbeat and positive. This is a show that does tackle emotional stories, but it wants you to leave most episodes feeling optimistic about the human race. That’s a big change from much of society at this point.
There is a new episode of The Good Doctor on Monday night, and you can preview that over at the link here. While the series has yet to be renewed for a season 2, signs do point to that eventually happening.
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