Watching TV

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: Is the actor who plays Dr. Shaun Murphy on “The Good Doctor” autistic? Or is he just pretending?

A: Freddie Highmore, who plays Shaun in “The Good Doctor,” is not autistic; he is a very good actor. In the New York Post, he said he knows someone with autism but he also “did research and watched documentaries (on autism) and we have a full-time consultant on board,” he says. “You learn as much as you can, and I try to see what’s right for Shaun.”

Highmore’s convincing performance is just the latest in challenging roles for the actor. His previous work includes “Bates Motel,” where he played a pre-”Psycho” Norman Bates. And you may be surprised to know he’s not American-born, either; he hails from England.

Q: What happened to Tim Allen’s show, “Last Man Standing”? It was such a good show with a great cast of young actors.

A: You are not the only one missing that comedy, which ABC cancelled at the end of last season. Another reader said, “It was my favorite show, and my husband and I looked forward to it every Friday night. I am so annoyed. Why was it dropped? I am so tired of the murder and mayhem that dominates network television.”

I mentioned after the cancellation was announced last spring that ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey has given several reasons, including ABC deciding not to program comedies on Friday night (where the network also dropped “Dr. Ken”), as well as the ownership of “Last Man Standing.” The Washington Post noted, “‘Last Man Standing’ is also produced by outside studio 20th Century Fox TV, and not ABC Studios, which means there’s less potential financial reward for ABC’s parent company, Disney.”

As your note suggests, ABC was widely criticized about the cancellation. Some believed Allen’s outspoken conservatism was the real reason for the show’s demise. (Allen once compared liberal Hollywood to 1930s Germany because “you get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes.” On the other hand, Allen’s politics are well known and “Last Man Standing” still ran for more than 100 episodes over six seasons. Reruns continue to be available, including through syndication to individual stations (check your local lineups), and on Freeform, CMT and streaming service Hulu.

Besides, you’re not the only one missing a show (and complaining about other programs’ content).

Q: How sad to learn that one interesting, pleasant show has been removed from the CBS line-up. “Me, Myself & I” was both entertaining and interesting — items from the past and ideas for the future were both presented. And we watched a story unfold and didn’t have to deal with murder and blatant sex.

A: As I mentioned in a previous column, “Me, Myself & I” was pulled from CBS’s lineup in favor of “Man With a Plan,” with the claim that “Me” will return at an unspecified later date. But I think one of the problems with your show is that it was — to use your word — “pleasant,” but not much more. Rotten Tomatoes found more positive reviews than negative — 18 out of 23 overall. But the show still lacked something. As TV critic Ed Bark put it, “The opening episode is pleasant enough to watch, although not really very amusing.” Even one positive review, by Sonia Saraiya of Variety, termed this “a warm, if not particularly funny, family sitcom.” With all the viewing options available (including many without much murder), I want my shows to be more than just pleasant.

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.


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