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Doogie Howser M.D.

By Bret Fetzer

Oh, the torments of being a teenaged surgeon! It's funny that a nation known for distrusting intellect would embrace a show about a young genius who becomes a doctor at 14. Debuting in 1989, Doogie Howser, M.D. originally emphasized Doogie's medical career, contrasting the issues of life and death with star Neil Patrick Harris's chipmunk cheeks and buoyant energy. Season Two tilted more towards Doogie's life as a teenager--particular the bubbling of his adolescent hormones, often sparked by the schemes of Doogie's best friend, the relentless horndog Vinnie Delpino (Max Casella, later to appear in Ed Wood and The Sopranos). The show's sexual frankness can be startling--it's hard to imagine a contemporary show that would openly advocate condoms, as Doogie does when he makes public health promotions for a music video channel.

Given the gimmicky nature of the premise, it's also surprising how emotionally complex Doogie Howser, M.D. could be. The season opens with a realistic investigation into Doogie's lost youth and closes with a multi-episode storyline about Doogie's girlfriend Wanda (Lisa Dean Ryan, Surfacing) struggling with depression after losing her mother in a car crash. Of course, the show was just as often silly (Vinnie enlists his friends to make a zombie/slasher movie) or awash in sentimentality--Doogie's journal entries, which conclude every episode, could be wincingly sappy. But even at its weakest, producer Stephen Bochco (creator of L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues, who created Doogie Howser, M.D. with David Kelley, creator of Ally McBeal) kept the writing and directing crisp, and the cast (including James Sikking, Belinda Montgomery, and Lawrence Pressman as the adults in Doogie's life) turned in solid work.

Harris successfully carried off the role of a genius who still had the emotional confusions of youth; it's jarring to see him as an adult in a short interview, included as an extra, as well as an interview with Casella (who, it turns out, was already in his 20s when the show began). The show rested on Harris' shoulders, and, like his character, he carried his responsibilities lightly and with style. Warning: Repeated exposure to the theme song will inspire suicidal thoughts; fast forward through the credits to preserve your sanity.

Doogie Howser M.D. on DVD!
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Season One, Season Two

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Doogie Howser M.D.? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Hey all you doogie fans! I used to watch Doogie Howser M.D. when I was a little gurl. I'm fifteen now. So that wasn't that long ago! I thought Neal Patrick Harris,a.k.a Doogie Howser, was just the cutest thing I had ever seen. I really miss watching that on T.v. That was one of my favorite shows! It's amazing how television has changed and how many shows have gone of the air! It's sad when you think about it! Isn't it?"

--Kirbycolet

"My favorite episode was the one when Doogie decided to not just have his day job as a doctor but he decided to take a part time job at a fast food restraunt. He got fed up with it and walked out. My next favorite one was the "ask Doctor Doogie" episode where he was on tv and had a show and ofcourse he got fed up with bieng on it. But It was a pretty good episode"

--Anonymous

"Hey guys, I come from Germany and I still LOVE Doogie Howser! He's soooo cute! My favorite episode is the one when Vinnie is in the elevator with his Teacher and she's pregnant and gives birth in the Elevator with Doogies help on the phone! Thats so cute! It would be the best thing that cuold happen if I could see Doogie Howser again every evening. DOOGIE 4 EVER!!!!!!!!!!"

--Mandy

"I remember watching Doogie Howser when I was about three or four. It went off the air when I was six, so I don't remember too much. I do, however, remember that Neil Patrick Harris was my first TV crush. I thought he was the cutest thing ever back then! He still is pretty good looking. I really wish they would show re-runs of the show, it would be great to see it again."

--PinkPrincess

"I loved the one were Doogie had a kick a@* party and he never ever got caught!!! He covered his tracks. When the 'rents came home they were all like "Awwwww look at our good little sleppin Doogie.""

--80'schick

"I was in love with Doogie! What a great show, I got to stay up late just to watch it. I think it was the first television show that I actually watched week to week. Hopefully one of the networks will pick up reruns. "

--Anonymous

"Man this was my favorite show ever. it still is. I'm 18 now so I was little when it came on, and still little when they showed reruns at 5 in the morning. I taped those. My favorite episodes were the one where he teaches sex-ed and the "Ask Dr. Doogie" episode. Classics. Someone needs to get all the episodes together and make a DVD. That would be awesome, I would buy it."

--Anonymous

"I am 22 years old, used to watch the show and LOVE Doogie Howser (well, actually, Neil Patrick Harris but the show too!) and remember almost all the episodes. For example, when Wanda had appendicitis, when Doogie was taking his corvette to Chicago to visit Wanda at the art school and he got stranded in the desert, also when Vinnie broke his arm. Does anyone remember when they did this mission trip like thing in some other country? I am absolutely in love with this show and wish it would come back. When I was in about 4th grade, I wrote to him and got a postcard back (in about a year)! I was so excited! Anyways, I try to keep up with Neil's works so that I might can watch him again!"

--Dani

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: September 19, 1989 - July 21, 1993

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, James B. Sikking, Belinda Montgomery, Max Casella, Mitchell Anderson, Robyn Lively

Network: ABC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC


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