Friday, November 24, 2017

REVIEW: ABC's 'The Good Doctor,' NBC's 'Chicago Med' and CBS' 'Mom' (November 19-25)

Various comedy and drama reviews for November 19-25, 2017:

ABC's The Good Doctor - Episode 1.08 "Apple"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 3.01 "Speak Your Truth"
CBS' Mom - Episode 5.04 "Fancy Crackers and Giant Women"

In 2017, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage of various shows, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes from November 19-25, 2017. Enjoy!

The Good Doctor - "Apple"
During a robbery at the grocery mart Shaun is shopping at, his communication limitations puts lives at risk. After Shaun's traumatic day, Dr. Aaron Glassman worries that he isn't doing enough to help Shaun. Written by David Renaud and directed by Nestor Carbonell

A pattern is really starting to emerge this season that highlights how Shaun can be so masterfully in his element at the hospital but woefully unprepared for the outside world. That trend continues here with a simple trip to a convenience store ending in a woman getting shot. He just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But his actions still have consequences to them as well. It's also a case of everyone telling Shaun that he should be having a big reaction to what happened at the store. It's a familiar story in this genre for a doctor to push through the pain of a traumatic event because their skills are just too important. But here, Shaun doesn't seem affected by it at all. In fact, he's probably even growing as a person by learning how others want him to react to it. That's a nice twist on a very conventional story. It makes it so Shaun admitting he was wrong to Jared and apologizing to Lea has actual resonance to it. Those actions aren't traditionally big deals in storytelling. But here, they are which further highlights how The Good Doctor has to tell stories differently. Of course, things are far more predictable and familiar with the other stories of the hour - with Claire needing to save the life of the Nazi criminal while Glassman is trying to be an overly protective parent to Shaun because he wasn't to his daughter who tragically died. Those stories just don't have much of a spark to them. Shaun remains the only genuinely interesting character on this show. But again, this episode was solid because so much focus was on the journey he went on across this day in his pursuit of an apple. B

Chicago Med - "Speak Your Truth"
The doctors of Chicago Med take their opinions to the extreme as they try to bring justice to the perpetrator in the shooting of Dr. Charles. Dr. Halstead and Dr. Manning work on a heart-wrenching case that forces them to examine their own matters of the heart. Though Robin's brain tumor was removed and she is discharged from the rehabilitation center, Dr. Rhodes remains on edge that her problems are not quite resolved. Rhodes gets blindsided by his colleague Dr. Bekker. Maggie sticks up for a patient. Dr. Choi and April try to navigate their new working relationship. Written by Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider, Stephen Hootstein & Danny Weiss and directed by Michael Waxman

This premiere opening on the doctors finding Dr. Charles after he was shot and then flashing forward a couple of months to show that he is okay once more was the expected resolution to the cliffhanger. It was the only way the show could have managed it given the delay to the start of the season. The Chicago franchise has had inconsistencies with the timeline in the past. But it couldn't linger too long on Charles' recovery because it needs to be current with the other shows. Of course, the effects of the shooting are still lingering for Charles. It's important to see him continue to have a bruised ego and not have all of the answers. Everyone has always gone to him for advice. He has the degree to offer a well-informed opinion on almost all matters. But it's intriguing to see his judgments continually called out - even though the courtroom drama is laughable and not what this show does best. Elsewhere, the Will-Natalie romance has never been something I've wished for happening. It's something the show has been selling hard. The creative team is bound and determined to make them a thing but have kept numerous plot obstacles in their way across two seasons. So on one hand, one has to appreciate that they are finally pulling the trigger on the two of them as a couple. After all of this buildup, it's about damn time for this to happen. On the other hand though, this could be further proof that the show is forcing this into happening instead of actually knowing if the two of them are compatible in such a way. So far, it has been a lot of lusting. But the realities of dating should challenge them this season. It's much easier to invest in Choi and April as a couple because that was so unexpected. Yes, it's annoying how every single character on this show is defined by their love lives and have been paired numerous different ways with each other. Things are already too complicated with April and Choi because she wants to keep it a secret. The time jump was necessary but the show had to find ways to keep the characters in the same emotional places they were in at the end of last season. That's a little lame too. B-

Mom - "Fancy Crackers and Giant Women"
Bonnie suffers withdrawal after giving up cable TV to help Christy pay for her law school applications. The women rally around Jill after she has a breakdown in her favorite department store. Directed by James Widdoes with story by Warren Bell & Marco Pennette and teleplay by Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky & Gemma Baker

This episode feels like the show bringing an end to certain storylines while also introducing new ones. And yet, it feels a little too scattered as well. Natasha has been a major character of this season so far. The girls have been trying to help her stay sober. And now, she's better. She's gotten her daughter back and is plotting a move to Los Angeles to start a new career as a songwriter. It all just seems very sudden and fast. It's as if the show is writing her off just because Jill needed to make an exit as well. Those two characters have been very connected. However, it was possible for the show to tell a story with Natasha even when Jill was gone. This episode also has the unfortunate feeling of the show writing Jill off so that Jaime Pressly can go on maternity leave. The explanation is basically what everyone expected. She's going away to figure out her life and how her addiction has slipped out through food. She'll probably return later on this season looking exactly like she used to. It was the expected outcome the moment this story was introduced. There's nothing really new or amusing about it here. And then, Christy is toying with the idea of applying to law school at Stanford. It seems like an improbable long-shot. However, the show spending so much time on the discussion is clearly setting it up as something of ongoing importance. It would be so rewarding to see Christy get into a school like that. It would be a huge accomplishment. But now that expectation is there because it seems daunting. It needs to happen otherwise it seems manipulative to have Christy doubt sending in the application just for a later episode to be all about her being denied entry. B-