Long before Neil Patrick Harris decided to “Suit up!” for How I Met Your Mother, he sutured up as the teenage medical genius Douglas ‘Doogie’ Howser.
Fans of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, switch off your Super Nintendo, open a fresh Tab Cola, and prepare for a nostalgia-blast with the first season of Doogie Howser, MD.
There are some shows that time wears down to a thin nostalgic paste. Doogie Howser is not one of those shows. Yes, it is very much a product of its time – a time when the stonewashed denim jacket reigned supreme – but over twenty years on it’s still a thoroughly entertaining drama.
What could be a goofy premise – a 16 year old doctor working in a hospital – is handled with dexterity and results in a neat balance of medical drama (morphine being asked for, stat!) and teenage growing-pains (having your first kiss, stat!).
In terms of dramatic confluence, the two mesh surprisingly well: as a junior doctor and a teenager Doogie’s coming to terms with the world around him, and the life lessons fly around faster than in an early episode of Scrubs. Life, love, and laparoscopies.
These days it’s a tired requirement for talented doctors to fight against authority because they know better. Howser’s no different, though the fact that he’s a teenager adds an extra wrinkle of rebellious interest to things. Sometimes he’s not slamming his hand down on a desk about saving a patient, sometimes it’s just about his dad being a jerk to him.
Star Neil Patrick Harris is a convincing lead as both confused adolescent and confident doctor, and is surrounded by a competent, if largely unmemorable cast. Doogie’s teenage friend and comic foil Vinnie (Max Casella) is the only one who really stands out.
Doogie Howser is either going to be a cosy nostalgia trip to revel in, or a great piece of ‘90s treasure for you to discover. Whichever category you fall into, if you’re a fan of a medical drama, it’s well worth checking out. Stat!
Extras: Interviews with Neil Patrick Harris and the show creator Steve Bochco.
Released on DVD on Monday 20th February 2012 by Revelation Films Ltd.
Watch the trailer…
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