23 March 2008 | steve-575
Interesting and unique show that quickly flat-lined
When it first came out, "Doogie Howser M.D." was one of the more unique shows to grace the airwaves. It centered around a 16-year old child prodigy, Douglas "Doogie" Howser, who was a doctor at a Los Angeles area hospital. He lived with his parents and had a girlfriend, Wanda, and an obnoxious best friend who often came into his house via a window. Each episode ended with Doogie typing up an entry in his personal computer diary. The entry was usually a wise proverb from a lesson learned in the episode.
The show was developed by Steven Bochco who created ground-breaking shows like "L.A. Law" and "Hill Street Blues". Although not nearly as acclaimed as those two shows (the only Emmy awards it was nominated for were for Sound Mixing and Cinematography), it had a satisfying blend of comedy and drama that kept the show interesting but not too serious. Since the two main characters were both teenagers, this lead many people to dismiss it as a kid's show. However, it was much deeper than a kid's show as most of the episodes centered on adult themes such as AIDS, death, and racism. The acting was also very solid. Long before he gained recognition for the show "How I Met Your Mother", I always felt that Neil Patrick Harris was a very underrated actor. Very few teenage actors could have pulled off playing a child prodigy the way he did. It would be hard to imagine anyone else playing the Doogie Howser role.
The first and second season were terrific as they focused around Doogie's struggles to be a normal teenager despite the demands of his job. A common theme was discrimination as he was often discriminated based on his age by patients and even other doctors. He was not afraid, though, to express his views, even if it meant clashing with more seasoned and respected doctors. By the third or fourth season, the show had lost some of its novelty as Doogie was no longer a child prodigy but just a very smart adult. This must have really made it hard for the writers to come up with interesting story lines and it showed. The show began to focus more on Doogie's personal life and Vinnie quirky adventures and less on the hospital. By this time, Doogie had moved out of his parent's house to live in an apartment which meant that less time was devoted to his parents who were an integral part of the show. The ratings declined and a show that seemed like it would be on the air for many years was canceled after only four.