Monday, June 29, 2009

If I was a teenage prodigy...

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

...I wouldn't have chosen to be a doctor. But, Doogie Howser did!

I actually seem to be one of the few (my age) who never saw Doogie in real-time. Instead, I came to it in April 2008 on Hulu, and have since watched the entire series free of charge. The show ran for four seasons (97 episodes), and really ended fairly abruptly.

Neil Patrick Harris (the protagonist) was absolutely adorable, and the little-Doogie seen in some episodes was equally disarming. He was an only child, and yet a handful for his parents (living in LA). He had a best friend (Vinnie), a steady girlfriend in the early seasons (Wanda), and work friends from the hospital as well. The main idea: kid genius balances being a doctor with being a teenager. As the introductory sequence shows, he got a perfect on his SATs when he was six years old, finished high school in nine weeks, graduated from Princeton when he was ten, and completed medical school when he was fourteen. The show begins as Doogie (whose given name is Douglas) turns sixteen, and stops his driving exam in order to help an injured person in the street.

Most of the time, Doogie has patients in the hospital (mostly working in surgery and/or with children), and drama going on at home. Sex is discussed often in the first couple seasons, and Doogie ends up making love to Wanda, which he keeps quiet from even his best friend. Other issues, like race, homophobia, child abuse, and the LA riots, are also seen here and there, but not really made a major issue in the series. Throughout the years, his friends all graduate high school and go on to college as well. Doogie also moves out of his parents' house and into a run-down apartment (which is amusing because we all know he has the money to do better), and decides to pursue trauma surgery.

There are several awkward moments and storylines in the show, including Doogie dealing with older women, having to perform a pelvic exam on his girlfriend, teaching sex ed in high school, longing for an expensive car, seeing Vinnie through his family's divorce, and being alienated after his girlfriend's mother dies. Of course, each gets written about in his diary, an action which becomes a trademark for the show (and for Neil Patrick Harris, for that matter). Many of these one-liners are catalogues on a blog.

While the first two seasons had decent ratings, the show was ultimately canceled for poor ratings, a problem which struck the writers by surprise, as they had at least another season's worth of ideas in the making. Our last view of young Douglas is his early-life-crisis over whether he is truly meant to work in medicine for the rest of his life (it would be beneficial for the greenhorn to know that Doogie survived leukemia twice before he was ten, prompting his desire to treat others). He thinks of writing as an outlet (he and Vinnie penned a screenplay in the fourth season), and a fifth season was to deal with Doogie's disenchantment with medicine and new-found proclivity for writing.

Hop on over to hulu and catch an episode or two if you never have before!
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