You may have already read or heard the news, but in case you haven’t, Deadline leaked the big news earlier this week that ABC is currently developing a The Good Doctor spin-off called The Good Lawyer. It’s an interesting prospect, and there are several little tidbits about The Good Doctor season 6 in the article. Let’s take a closer look at the info we were given.
In a nutshell
So, what do we know? Apparently nothing has been officially confirmed, but there were a lot of details in the Deadline article that indicated it’s definitely more than a random rumour.
The main premise of the new show, titled The Good Lawyer (predictable, but on brand with the franchise) is centred around a young female lawyer with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) who is very good at her job but whose disorder has her struggle to fit in and excel in the legal profession.
The new show is being developped and co-showrun by David Shore and Liz Friedman, both of whom are also co-running season 6 of The Good Doctor. There is talk about The Good Lawyer being launched through a so-called backdoor pilot, which basically means they will introduce the main characters and premise of the new show in season 6 of The Good Doctor and then ferry the characters and setting over into its own series to run independently.
Not that much is known yet, just that the show will focus on a young and skilled defense attorney with OCD named Joni who is in her 20’s and works for a prestigious law firm. With both shows closely interweaving, we can assume that The Good Lawyer is also set in San Jose or somewhere in the Silicon Valley area (and likewise assume both shows will be filmed in Vancouver, BC).
Very much like Shaun, our female protagonist is being presented with challenges that her disorder brings and we will see how she navigates around them to thrive in a professional environment. The initial connection to The Good Doctor will be made through a particular storyline involving Shaun (and to an extent Glassman).
According to unconfirmed rumours in the Deadline article, at least two of the main characters of The Good Lawyer – young attorney Joni and her senior Janet – will be introduced in The Good Doctor episode 6x13, tied to what sounds like a bigger plot that involves Shaun getting into legal trouble. I think we can assume this will be some kind of malpractice case, although that's pure speculation on my part.
Whatever the reason may be, Shaun will need a defense attorney, and Dr. Glassman recommends he turn to the legal firm that employs our The Good Lawyer protagonist Joni. There seems to be reluctance from Janet to assign the The Good Doctor related legal matter to Joni, but Shaun takes a liking to Joni and makes a request to work with her that will put her on the case and perhaps also to the test.
So far, only two of the main characters of The Good Lawyer have been outlined to the public: Our protagonist Joni and an older colleague named Janet who is said to have a mentor role for Joni, much like Dr. Glassman is for Shaun.
Joni is said to be in her 20’s, having mastered law school and the Bar exam with flying colours despite the challenges of her OCD. She is being described as “funny, eager, self-aware and a bit anxious” and equipped with a “fierce intellect and a dry, rapier wit”. Much like Shaun, Joni is determined not to let her OCD stop her, although she struggles with accepting it at times.
To quote the Deadline article, she is “a great lawyer, using her attention to detail, compulsive over-thinking and analytical skills as a superpower, but was forced to threaten to sue the firm (for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act) when they tried to fire her because of her peculiar behaviors.”
While OCD is sometimes known to occur in tandem with ASD, it is currently not expected that Joni is also on the autism spectrum.
Janet is being described as a veteran in the legal business, with more than 30 years experience under her belt, and a mentor to Joni. She has ties to Dr. Glassman, having been his legal counsel in several instances, which is how the connection to The Good Doctor is formed — with an actual lawsuit on the table and an issued recommendation from Glassman to go with Janet’s firm for legal representation.
Janet is said to have a cynical streak and she actually attempted to fire Joni, which the latter didn’t take lightly and pursued legal action, feeling discriminated against.
To quote the Deadline article, “while Janet and Joni resemble the mentor-mentee duo of Glassman and Shaun on The Good Doctor, the dynamic between the two characters is very different, at least on the outset.”
Nothing concrete is known about the casting of The Good Lawyer so far. I’m sure we will hear more on this in the next few weeks or months. Certainly possible that the casting process is still ongoing as we speak. Usually these things get announced in waves, so first we’ll hear about the two or three most important characters (Joni and Janet are likely candidates), and then casting news for additional and recurring cast is reported piecemeal along the way.
The Deadline article mentions that the role is “listed as open to all ethnicities and abilities.” I think it would be great to see diverse casting for Joni, i.e. someone non-Caucasian and/or someone neurodivergent being chosen for the role, but in the end I’d hope they pick the best actor to represent her, irrespective of ethnicity or neurological status.
There are many open questions about the new show, which will undoubtedly be answered as more news start to emerge.
Deadline mentions that the introduction of the the The Good Lawyer characters will happen this mid-season of The Good Doctor, which based on past airing schedules would likely be slated for the first quarter of 2023. While there was no actual mention about premiere dates or scheduling, and assuming The Good Lawyer premieres soon after the backdoor introduction on The Good Doctor, it seems likely that the first season will air through spring 2023 into at least early summer.
As for season 1 of The Good Lawyer, that could mean one of several things:
- Either The Good Lawyer will get a full length first season that will run through the summer to bridge the The Good Doctor summer hiatus, or
- The Good Lawyer will get an abbreviated first season to run in parallel with The Good Doctor up until the summer to then continue in its second season after the summer hiatus (presuming it will get a season 2), or
- The Good Lawyer will have a full first season but also go on summer hiatus and wrap up the season in the fall/winter of 2023.
- There’s a longer break after the character introduction and The Good Lawyer season 1 only airs in fall 2023, alongside season 7 of The Good Doctor (assuming s7 will happen).
Out of these options, it’s most likely both shows will run in parallel as occasionally certain storylines tend to interlock between both shows and characters may hop on over to one or the other show. This only works if the connected episodes air in the same week.
We already know that season 6 of The Good Doctor will run an unusually long 22 episodes (as opposed to either 18 or 20 episodes in previous seasons), so it’s going to be interesting to see how ABC will distribute these across the 2022/23 season and sync it with The Good Lawyer.
Looking at previous airing schedules, the winter finale would usually be in the first week of December, so if ABC chose to air the first half of The Good Doctor‘s season 6 without breaks and stuck to that pattern, the winter finale would be episode 6×10 on Dec 05. That makes for a likely scenario of the introduction of The Good Lawyer to happen some time around February 2023.
However, that’s just a rough guesstimate at this point, and ABC may have very different ideas. It sounds like production is still a little further out on the horizon, and of course shooting and production schedules will ultimately dictate the airing schedule, so we’ll have to stay tuned for more news on this as the year progresses.
Why go the legal route?
I can only speculate, but it makes a certain sense when you know that David Shore went through law school and practised law for a while before he chose to make a career change to start working for television. He would bring actual expertise to the field which we’d hope will make the show more realistic and relevant.
We also have to consider that the premise of a spin-off has to make sense in conjunction with The Good Doctor. We already have several hospital shows with offshoots centering around fire departments, paramedics and police work. Going that route would have had a good chance to quickly become repetitive and unoriginal.
While we’d hope that St. Bonaventure isn’t constantly being sued and in need of defense attorneys, there could be more semi-regular connecting joints between the hospital and the legal firm, considering there are other legal matters at St. Bonaventure outside of malpractice suits that may need the consultation and involvement of lawyers. Or, you know, they could be building interpersonal relationships between the shows’ characters that don’t necessarily have to do with medical and legal matters. (Or both. Both would be good.)
The Chicago franchise already tried their hand at a legal drama spin-off in 2017, called Chicago Justice, which didn’t have the expected success and was cancelled after just one season. However, Chicago Justice was less focused on a law firm but instead on the State’s Attorney’s Office and its team of prosecutors and investigators. We can only hope The Good Lawyer will fare better.
The Deadline article about The Good Lawyer mentions an interesting aspect, namely that there were rumours previously of considering a potential spin-off to centre around Dr. Claire Browne in a more flexible Doctors Without Borders setting. The article surmises they eventually landed on a legal show because it works better as a weekly network procedural for linear viewing.
The Good Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Several people online are asking why they’re not just remaking Extraordinary Attorney Woo, a South Korean TV show distributed internationally by Netflix that revolves around a female lawyer with autism who is quite brilliant in her job, not lastly because her autistic traits help her recall useful legal details. The show is well loved and popular, and people want to see it Americanised.
There are several reasons why The Good Lawyer isn’t a remake of Extraordinary Attorney Woo, and here’s why.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo only premiered on Netflix in June 2022. The Good Lawyer would have been in development before that, because the process of creating and conceptualising a whole show is a longer process. I don’t actually know when Extraordinary Attorney Woo was officially announced or started being talked about in the media, but very likely this was when development of The Good Lawyer was already well underway.
There are online articles from mid-July 2022 that speak to rumours of a proposal for a US remake of Extraordinary Attorney Woo currently being under review. The Good Lawyer would very likely have been in final concept stages at that point, probably with at least a pilot script already written. The timing doesn’t add up.
You can’t just go and take any show you like and remake it for a different audience. There’s licensing deals attached to that, contracts, legal matters, negotiations, etc. Netflix has distribution rights for Extraordinary Attorney Woo, they’re a large international platform that develops their own shows for a myriad of international markets, so it seems more likely Netflix would earn US remake rights over ABC.
Doing another show with an autistic protagonist would be somewhat of a carbon-copy of Shaun. Yes, of course the autism spectrum is wide, and different individuals with ASD can present very differently, but the overall themes would be repetitive and there would always be the underlying accusation of “Why are you doing the same thing all over again?”
It makes perfect sense to showcase a different disorder that has different struggles and presents different challenges, all the while the overall premise staying on brand with a theme of overcoming the hurdles of living with a disorder that impacts your life in a significant way.
What does all of this mean for The Good Doctor?
While the news seems to have sparked mostly positive reception online from what I could see, there have been questions as to how the new show will influence the future of The Good Doctor.
I think we can be fairly certain that the creation of The Good Lawyer doesn’t mean The Good Doctor will pass the torch and quietly slink away after season 6. Quite the opposite. Usually franchises like this are created to open up new avenues and build synergies for the shows to serve as catalysts to each other.
What The Good Lawyer will hopefully do is expand the horizon of the hospital to branch out as needed and add other interesting angles and viewpoints. It will open up new possibilities, if done right. Presumably, the two shows will run in parallel, with the option of characters jumping back and forth between the shows for the occasional guest spot in both directions, much like we’re seeing on other popular franchises like Chicago Fire/P.D./Med or Grey’s Anatomy/Station 19.
While obviously we don’t know when The Good Doctor will ultimately end, David Shore doesn’t seem to have any plans in mind of that happening any time soon. In a Royal Television Society interview in April this years, he said:
“I think I’m gonna be lucky enough on [The Good Doctor] to choose the ending I want. We’ve had enough success that it will end at a time and in a way that Freddie [Highmore] and myself, when we figure we’ve told the story enough and we don’t have a lot more story to go, and we’ve got a way to end it, we will figure out a good ending. I don’t want the show to be judged on the ending, but I do want it to be a great ending. I want it to be judged in its entirety, and I don’t want it to happen tomorrow.”
In a video on Twitter, Shore has said that he wants fans to keep watching so they can get a 7th season and that he’s already working on it. In addition, Freddie Highmore has mentioned in interviews that he enjoys playing Shaun and is willing to portray that role for as long as viewers want it. These are all indications that the producers are in it for a longer haul beyond season 6.
The expansion of The Good Doctor into an actual franchise through the addition of The Good Lawyer could be good for The Good Doctor. If The Good Lawyer runs successfully, it could secure more seasons for The Good Doctor along the way. There’s no guarantee for that, of course, but The Good Lawyer may be a blessing for The Good Doctor rather than an indicator of the beginning of the end.
A long time coming?
Rumours about a possible spin-off for The Good Doctor have been floating around for a little bit. Sony TV Studios’ former President Jeff Frost talked about it in a Deadline interview last year, mentioning that it was a possibility but that they wouldn’t want it to affect The Good Doctor in any negative way.
Interestingly, in the Royal Television Society interview in April 2022, the question was posed to David Shore whether a spin-off might be in the works, which Shore seems to have significantly downplayed, seeing how The Good Lawyer would have already had a solid concept at the time of the interview.
I mean, we are currently talking [about a spin-off] in very, very, very general terms internally. What we wanna… There’s a DNA to this show. This unusual character in a world you don’t expect this character. And we’re talking about taking that DNA and planting it somewhere else. That’s as much as I can say.
When this interview was published, it had already indicated that what we’d likely be seeing in a spin-off was a different character with a different chronic condition, disorder or disability in a different profession, trying to overcome the challenges of that situation. And now we know that’s exactly what we’re getting.
And honestly? I think all of this is pretty sweet. I’m excited to see what happens with The Good Lawyer and will be in joyful anticipation of hearing more about the show as plans solidify and more announcements are made. It’ll be interesting to see the first casting announcements and hear more officially confirmed statements as to what’s going to be in store and how the two shows will interconnect.
So yeah, I’m here for it, and I really, really hope I will end up liking The Good Lawyer as much as our beloved hospital show and its endearing autistic protagonist. The bar is high!