Doogie Howser MD Season 1

Monday, 05 March 2012 13:22

These days if you said there’s a new series from combine the talents of Steven Bochco and David E Kelley, it would immediately be categorised as ‘must see TV’. However, if we transport you back to the cusp where the 1980s met the 1990s, and suggested a series where we have a child star at its heart... you can hear the noise of TV remote buttons being zapped to change channels.  Unfortunate, as this is a little gem of a show, which lives up to the later credentials of its production team.

So, do you remember Doogie Howser MD? A child prodigy, a fully qualified doctor by age fourteen, and a surgeon by age sixteen. Well, thanks to Revelation Films, he’s back thanks to DVD with their Season One release. Indeed, Revelation have been releasing much of David E Kelley’s back catalogue, having already begun working their way through L A Law and Chicago Hope. We had two copies of Doogie on DVD to give away in a prize competition.

Doogie Howser MD - Season One on DVD in the UKDoogie Howser MD – Season One introduces us to the central character given life by Neil Patrick Harris, who has not looked back since, and is a major component in the current sit-com How I Met Your Mother, a staple on the E4 channel.  The series pilot sees Doogie turn 16, lose his first patient, get to grips with kissing, and begins his tussle with the powers-that-be at the Eastman Medical Centre, Los Angeles – something that will become a running theme throughout the show’s duration.

Best friend Vinnie Delpino (Max Casella) is Doogie’s link to what he really should be doing at his age.  As Doogie notes in one episode, he spends his days being an adult, and in his time off he wants to behave just as someone his age really should be doing.

Doogie’s parents are David (post Hill Street Blues ‘Howard Hunter’ himself, James B Sikking) and Katherine (Belinda J Montgomery, known to all Cult TV fans as Dr Elizabeth Merrill from The Man from Atlantis). The back story notes that Doogie had survived early-stage paediatric leukaemia in his formative years – it helped that father David was also a Doctor who could properly diagnose the symptoms.

The first season also establishes Doogie’s relationship with girlfriend Wanda Plenn (the gorgeous Lisa Dean Ryan), although they do go through the hoops of make-up, break-up, and her going off on a tour of Europe. Doogie does find himself as the muse of a woman five years older than him, in the pneumatic shape of Lakers cheerleader Taryn Rogers (Brooke Stacy Mills), in the episode “The Grass Ain’t Always Greener”. However, her penchant for art galleries, posh restaurants and ‘in-crowd’ friends doesn’t sit well with Doogie’s preference for the movies, hamburger joints and his own school-bound clique.

The big gimmick of the show comes in the show’s tag scene at the end of every episode, where Doogie taps away at his computer, filling his diary with a summary of that week’s events. This has become one of the most memorable aspects of the series, leading to many a spoof over the years (some involving Harris himself).

Described as a half-hour comedy-drama, it was conceived initially by Steven Bochco, who wanted David E Kelley to help write the pilot (Kelley had been Bochco’s Story Editor on L A Law), even giving him a ‘Created by’ credit on the series. Harris was the actor they found who could be convincing in the dual role of teenager and doctor, but the ‘suits’ at ABC didn’t like the idea. Regardless, the pilot was shot with Harris, the network hierarchy hated it, but test screenings were supremely positive.  So, the show went to series.

This was not a show which steered clear of controversial topics.  Be it racism, homophobia, or awareness of AIDS, these intertwined with the usual teenage-angst topics of dating, first-time sex and body image. Somehow, the cringe factor never goes as high as you’d expect from such a mixture of material.

The soundtrack of the series is from mega-composer Mike Post and sees much use of his trusty Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.

Special features on this DVD set include interviews with co-creator/producer Steven Bochco and star Neil Patrick Harris. All that wrapped up nicely with the 26 half hour episodes that constitute this first season – it would go on to run for four years stateside.

Thanks to Revelation Films and Cult TV, you had a chance to win one of two copies of the DVD of Doogie Howser MD – Season One that we had up for grabs in a prize competition.  All you had to do was answer the following: Name the actress who links Doogie Howser MD to The Man from Atlantis”?

The answer was Belinda J Montgomery (admittedly, she dropped the 'J' between Atlantis and Howser), and the winners were Isobel Eames of St Albans and Thomas Coates of Gunnislake, Cornwall - prizes are on their way.  Thanks to everyone who took part - it's been one of our most popular competitions in many a month!


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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