ABC’s The Good Doctor stars Freddie Highmore, Antonia Thomas, Christina Chang, Hill Harper, Will Yun Lee, Paige Spara, and Fiona Gubelmann joined executive producers David Shore and Daniel Dae Kim for the show’s 2020 New York Comic Con panel. The NYCC went virtual this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in fact the pandemic will play a major role in the first episodes of The Good Doctor season four.
Before the cast and executive producers teased what’s coming up on the new season, David Shore addressed the devastating death of Dr. Neil Melendez (played by Nicholas Gonzalez) in the season three finale. “Look, it’s a show about hope but eventually we lose everything. We lost him maybe sooner than any of us would have liked. It’s a show about heartbreak and it’s a show about hope, and I have no reason that will make people happy,” said Shore. “The only thing I can say is if people had been happy with the decision, then it would have been a mistake. I would have done so many more wrong things to put us in that situation.”
Shore added, “I miss Nick, too. I miss Dr. Melendez, too. We try and follow the stories where they go and sometimes that’s upsetting.”
Freddie Highmore discussed how Dr. Melendez’s death will play out for the other characters. “It’s a loss that will be felt across the entire hospital. I guess David was speaking about hope and so I’d like to stay hopeful that even though Dr. Melendez is no longer with us on the show, he will still be very much a part of it. His presence will still be felt and maybe we’ll get to see him again at some point. You never know.”
The ending of season three wasn’t a complete downer as Shaun and Lea are now finally together. “I really love Lea and Shaun’s dynamic as a couple,” said Paige Spara. “I think so many people can learn from them and see themselves in Shaun and Lea. So, yeah, when I did read the last two episodes, I was really pleased that we finally get to see them come together.”
Highmore said this was a big quest of Shaun’s and the outcome was something he rightfully deserved. “We start season four with very much the two of them in that relationship which will bring its own struggles, especially during a time such as the ones that we’re living in now with the virus and distancing. It will bring a whole new set of complications to their relationship. But it will be interesting to see how that continues to evolve in a way,” said Highmore. “I think the show has always been about from Shaun’s point of view celebrating those little moments in life and the small joys and small moments of connection that I think in these times are ever more important to recognize and be grateful for and be able to celebrate.”
Filming is currently underway on season four and David Shore believes it would have been felt false had the show not tackled the pandemic. “This is not something happening in our world; this is what has happened to our world. It is taken over every aspect of our lives for an unbelievable amount of time,” explained Shore. “Hopefully, it will go back to normal – what we viewed as normal – but it just would have been dishonest to not deal with this story. Having said that, it’s an incredible story. I mean, dramatically. We’re a show about regular people who do heroic things and this is an opportunity for…we have seen it time and time again throughout our world over the last six months regular people rising or failing to rise to the occasion. And dealing with the frustrations and dealing with the setbacks and the impact it takes on these human beings is incredibly dramatic. And so we wanted to dramatize it.”
Highmore’s Dr. Shaun Murphy is so brilliant at understanding symptoms and coming up with treatments. Since the medical journals are currently being written/rewritten on Covid-19, Dr. Murphy will face a much more difficult process when dealing with infected patients.
“It certainly is challenging in a whole new way and I think he’s always been very good at calling on his impressive memory. I think in this moment it’s particularly tricky when things are changing constantly and every minute and with new information that he’s having to deal with and try and process. And making those decisions in a way that he is very unaccustomed to doing, I think also is perhaps one of his weaknesses and something that he has struggled with. So, it’s certainly interesting to see how he’s dealing with it,” stated Highmore.
During the panel, the cast acknowledged their support for and appreciation of the real first responders who have had to deal with this pandemic. “This season and especially towards the beginning in these first two episodes, it feels like our way of paying tribute, really, to the real medical professionals who are putting themselves out there saving people’s lives every day. I think we would be doing a disservice to them to not want to try and reflect the reality that they’re dealing with and have been dealing with for so many months,” said Highmore.
“In a time when there is so little that lots of people seem able to agree on, I think one thing that we can agree on is that we’re incredibly thankful for everything that they do and have been doing,” added Highmore. “It’s an honor, really, to get to play a doctor. That’s what we’ve all realized more and more.”
Season four of ABC’s The Good Doctor will premiere on November 2, 2020 at 10pm ET/PT.