Network TV has a new pale, awkward male savior: Freddie Highmore. ABC’s The Good Doctor, based on a Korean drama about a pediatric surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, has become a major hit in the ratings. In addition to racking up strong Nielsen numbers when it airs on Monday nights (around 11 million viewers), the show is getting a massive lift from delayed viewing via DVRs, Hulu, and ABC.com streams. Case in point: Episode three of the Highmore series, which aired Oct. 9, has now been seen by 18.2 million viewers — pushing it past that same week’s edition of The Big Bang Theory (17.9 million) in overall audience. It’s even doing super well with younger viewers, with last week’s hour coming within three-tenths of a ratings point of TBBT among viewers under 50. The point is, the network-TV-watching people of America know what they want, and what they want is Freddie Highmore operating on someone’s liver on top of a stopped car in the middle of an L.A. freeway overpass, which is really something that happened on The Good Doctor.
Freddie Highmore in The Good Doctor. Photo: Eike Schroter/ABC