Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW: ABC's 'The Good Doctor,' 'Fresh Off the Boat' & 'Black-ish' (January 7-13)

Various ABC reviews for January 7-13, 2018:

The Good Doctor - Episode 1.11 "Islands: Part One"
Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 4.12 "Liar Liar"
Black-ish - Episode 4.11 "Inheritance"

In 2018, 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, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on ABC from January 2-6, 2018. Enjoy!

The Good Doctor - "Islands: Part One"
Dr. Andrews enlists Dr. Melendez on a very sensitive kidney transplant between a pair of twins whose lives intersect in more ways than one. Overwhelmed by Dr. Glassman's attempts to have him meet with a therapist and the demands at work, Dr. Shaun Murphy decides to take an impromptu trip with his friend Lea and leave everything behind. Written by Thomas L. Moran & William Rotko and directed by Bill D'Elia

It's still a significant problem that the Shaun portions of this show work significantly better than every other aspect. But this is a standout episode for the first season so far. It may have worked better if it completely focused on the road trip that Shaun and Lea took. That was such a lovely and sweet dynamic. It showed Shaun as just another young man exploring the world and love. Sure, it has a somewhat tragic ending with Lea revealing she has decided to move back home. Shaun will probably take the wrong lesson from that. But it's still endearing while boasting some powerful storytelling too. Meanwhile, the case with the twins is just twisty enough to justify carrying it over multiple episodes. It's ominous to see that the two haven't woken up following their separation surgery. And finally, it's starting to feel like the sexual harassment story is more of a gimmick than a nuanced conversation on the timely issue. The show is erratically inconsistent with it too. It's the thing that solely defines Dr. Coyle. He was introduced making this inappropriate pass at Claire a couple of episodes after it was pointed out to Claire that she was flirting with Melendez. And now, Coyle's behavior is seen as horrifying while it's completely fine for Melendez to bluntly ask Claire about her desire for kids. Melendez should be having an open and honest conversation about family with Jessica. Instead, he comes to his big realization before coming to her with it. It's still played as a healthy dynamic. But it's weird how the show keeps underlining some possible romantic tension between Claire and Melendez too. B+

Fresh Off the Boat - "Liar Liar"
Eddie gets annoyed when he catches Nicole changing her opinions in order to impress her new crush, Jackie. Louis is eager to expand his social circle with Matthew's friends, but Jessica fears her sometimes too-generous husband is overextending himself. When Emery and Evan take Honey shopping to find her a new, easy style to help her when the baby comes, their idea of a "mom" wardrobe is met with some resistance. Written by Abby Caldwell and directed by Kevin Bray

It's pretty funny watching Louis change so much in order to be loved by his new friends. He's always been a character desperate to be liked. This is a story the show has told with him before. So, it's a little less successful here because it goes to some pretty broad places. And yet, it's also made a big deal for nothing. He puts all of this pressure on himself to help in order to be seen as a good friend even though Matthew still likes him even when he can't drop everything to help. That's a solid message in a familiar setup. The message from the Nicole story is powerful as well. Again, it continues to be so amazing to see how the show is handling the increased presence of Nicole this year. Her friendship with Eddie has become really mature and genuine. The two of them are actually friends who share many interests. He knows her enough to call her out when she's changing herself to impress a girl. It's such a simple thing. But it's complex because of the desire to be loved. This is Nicole's first flirtation with a girl. It doesn't end well. It ends for silly reasons. But that's the reason most teenage romances end. All of this is completely normal. That too is empowering. It continues to be an exciting story that brings dimension to this season without overshadowing the rest of the world. B

Black-ish - "Inheritance"
Dre's sister Rhonda is in town and Ruby has a talk with them about her inheritance. Bow's sister Santa Monica is also in town and she hires Junior to become her assistant. Written by Stacy Traub and directed by Millicent Shelton

This season produced an episode early on about Ruby possibly getting old and forgetting things. It ended with the final punchline that Ruby was just playing a con on Dre. But now, the show has produced a second episode this year about the possibility of Ruby getting older and dying. That's weird and is on the verge of becoming a trend the audience should be worried about. It's a story mostly amused by Dre once again overreacting because he doesn't want to even talk about his mother dying. It tries to have a strong overall message about black families never having the opportunity to pass something of meaning down to their children. But that message gets lost in the specifics of the story. In fact, it's better when Dre and Rhonda are just discussing the future and willing to figure things out together. That's a healthy bond that comes out of some really ridiculous interactions earlier in the episode. Meanwhile, things still don't seem all that healthy between Bow and Santa Monica. Bow's sister is still hilariously changing her careers every time she is seen. The religion focus here really doesn't have anything grounded to it. It mostly highlights how this family would fall apart so easily without Junior because he's the one actually willing to help Bow keep the house together. She doesn't know what she has until it's gone. It's a familiar but still effective message. B