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Doogie Howser M.D.
Doogie Howser Cast Photo.gif
The Cast of Doogie Howser, M.D.
Format Comedy-Drama
Created by Steven Bochco
David E. Kelley
Starring Neil Patrick Harris
Max Casella
Lisa Dean Ryan
James Sikking
Belinda Montgomery
Lawrence Pressman
Lucy Boryer
Mitchell Anderson
Markus Redmond
Robyn Lively
Kathryn Layng
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 97 (List of episodes)
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) Steven Bochco Productions
In Association With 20th Century Fox Television
Original channel ABC
Original run September 19, 1989 – March 24, 1993

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 totalling 97 episodes.



Dr. Douglas "Doogie" Howser (Harris) is the son of David (James Sikking) and Katherine Howser (Belinda Montgomery). As a child, he twice survived early-stage pediatric leukemia, "first when I was four and then...again when I was six",[1] 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,[2] 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 two years later. At age 12, 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[3] at Eastman Medical Center in Los Angeles, and still lives at home[4] with his parents. His best friend and neighbor, Vinnie Delpino (Max 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; 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, underage drinking, and friendship.

Howser initially has a girlfriend, Wanda Plenn (Lisa Dean 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."[5] ABC abruptly canceled the show due to low ratings, preventing Bochco and the show's writers from implementing the storyline.

Doogie Howser, M.D. won the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Emmy Award three years in a row for Best Sound.


The weekly, half-hour comedy-drama was created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley. The soundtrack of the series is by Mike Post and uses Post's trademark mid to late 1980s Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer.


Television ratings

The first two seasons were successful and were in the top 30.

Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1st September 19, 1989 May 2, 1990 1989–1990 #30[6][7] 13.34[6][7]
2nd September 12, 1990 May 1, 1991 1990–1991 #24[8][9] 13.68[8][9]

DVD releases

Anchor Bay Entertainment has released all 4 seasons of the TV series on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Special Features
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season One 26 March 22, 2005
  • Steve Bochco Interview
  • Neil Patrick Harris Interview
  • 8-Page Collectible Journal with Liner Notes and Photos
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Two 25 September 6, 2005
  • Neil Patrick Harris: Remembering the Cast
  • Max Casella Interview
  • Trivia Quiz
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Three 24 January 17, 2006
  • Neil Patrick Harris: Growing Up on the Set
  • James B. Sikking: The Other Dr. Howser
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Four 22 April 18, 2006
  • Lawrence Pressman: Doctor in Charge
  • Kathryn Layng Interview
Doogie Howser, M.D.: The Complete Collection 97 May 13, 2008
  • Individual Season Sets in Bundled Shrinkwrap

Cultural Influence

  • Harris has satirized his years playing a teenage medical doctor several times.
    • Barney Stinson (also played by Harris) writes in his computerized diary at the end of the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Bracket" while the Doogie Howser theme music plays.[10] In "The Stinsons" he also comments "Call me crazy but child actors were way better in the 80s".
    • In the 2004 comedy Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Harris—playing a fictionalized version of himself—claims to have "humped every piece of ass ever on that show" (except the hot nurse, over whom he expresses regret). Harris is referred to as "Doogie Howser" while stealing Harold's car from the convenience store.
    • In 2008, Harris appeared in commercials for Old Spice deodorant, claiming to be an expert because he "used to be a doctor for pretends."
    • On the January 10, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live, the SNL Digital Short featured guest host Harris leading a full orchestra version of the Doogie Howser theme. When the song concludes, he turns toward the camera and sheds a tear.
    • In an episode of Roseanne, Roseanne has a dream after having undergone breast reduction surgery. She goes to the mirror and realizes that she has comically larger breasts than before. Doogie Howser (Harris) comes in and asks an upset Roseanne if they were supposed to be bigger than they are in the dream. Roseanne screams but then is woken up by her husband Dan. To make sure she was dreaming, she looks under her bedsheet, sees the surgery went as planned, and sighs "Way to go, Doogie!"
  • In Anthony Bourdain's New York Times bestselling book Kitchen Confidential, any blond, good-looking waiter working in his restaurant is immediately nicknamed 'Doogie Howser Motherfucker'.[11]
  • Smart mice obtained by genetic engineering have been named "Doogie mice" in honor of Harris' character.[12][13]

See also


  1. ^ Pilot 15:00
  2. ^ 'I can't help it. I remember everything I read.' "The Grass Ain't Always Greener." Season 1, episode 25 (April 25, 1990).
  3. ^ He began his residency in September 1988, a year before the pilot. "Every Dog Has His Doogie." Season 1, episode 12 (November 29, 1989).
  4. ^ 1782 Amalfi Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. "Lonesome Doog." Season 3, episode 6 (October 30, 1991)
  5. ^ Doogie Howser M.D., Season 1 DVD
  6. ^ a b Top Rated Programs – 1985–1990
  7. ^ a b TV Ratings: 1989–1990
  8. ^ a b Top Rated Programs – 1990–1995
  9. ^ a b TV Ratings: 1990–1991
  10. ^ Sepinwall, Alan. "HIMYM, "The Bracket": No bets, just slaps." The Star-Ledger, March 31, 2008.
  11. ^ Anthony Bourdain, "Kitchen Confidential" (2000)
  12. ^ Marc D. Hauser, "Swappable Minds", in "The Next Fifty Years" (Ed. J. Brockman), Vintage Books (2001)
  13. ^ Tang YP, Shimizu E, Dube GR, Rampon C, Kerchner GA, Zhuo M, Liu G, Tsien JZ (1999). "Genetic enhancement of learning and memory in mice". Nature 401 (6748): 63–69. doi:10.1038/43432. PMID 10485705. 

External links

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