Doogie Howser, M.D.
About This Show
Doogie Howser, M.D. is a television comedy-drama starring Neil Patrick Harris as a brilliant doctor who also faces the problems of being a normal teenager. ABC aired the show from September 1989 to March 1993 for four seasons totaling 97 episodes.
Dr. Douglas "Doogie" Howser (Harris) is the son of David (Sikking) and Katherine Howser (Montgomery). As a child, he twice survived early-stage pediatric leukemia, "first when I was four and then...again when I was six", after his father—a family physician—discovered suspicious bruising. The experience fueled Howser's desire to also enter medicine.
Possessing a genius intellect and an eidetic memory, Howser got a perfect score on the SAT at the age of six. He completed high school in nine weeks, graduated from Princeton University at age 10, and finished medical school four years later. At age 14, Howser was the youngest licensed doctor in the country.
The series begins on Howser's 16th birthday; the cold open of the pilot episode shows him stopping his field test for his driver's license to help an injured person at the scene of a traffic accident. Howser is a resident surgeon at Eastman Medical Center in Los Angeles, and still lives at home with his parents. His best friend and neighbor, Vinnie Delpino (Casella), is a more typical teenager—climbing through Howser's bedroom window to visit—and keeps him grounded in life outside his profession. Howser keeps a diary on his computer; all of the episodes typically end with him making an entry in it.
The teen doctor seeks acceptance by both others his age and his professional colleagues. Many episodes also deal with wider social problems; AIDS awareness, racism, sexism, homophobia, gang violence, access to quality medical care, and losing one's virginity are topics, along with aging, body issues, and friendship.
Howser initially has a girlfriend, Wanda Plenn (Ryan), but they break up in the course of the series; he also begins a trauma surgery fellowship and moves into his own apartment. Bochco intended to end the show with a "season-long story arc for Doogie where he becomes disaffected with the practice of medicine and . . . quits medicine to become a writer." ABC abruptly canceled the show due to low ratings, preventing Bochco and the show's writers from implementing the storyline.
David E. Kelley
Neil Patrick Harris
Lisa Dean Ryan
Video: Full pilot episode of Doogie Howser, M.D. "Pilot"