Oh, Doogie. How we love you. Even after all these years, whenever we find ourselves being treated by a doctor younger than we are (which has, alas, been happening with increasing frequency), we cattily refer to said young physician as "Doogie Howser" when we relay the story to our friends later on.
That is to say, you have entered our everyday lexicon. You are always and forever our reference point for the young geniuses life throws in our faces now and then.
We first met you back in 1989 when you starred in the series that bore your name.
You were a 16-year-old medical resident, and we loved watching you deal with dating issues, getting your driver’s license, and surgeries (including that emergency appendectomy you performed on your girlfriend Wanda in season one—awkward!).
Hey—whatever happened to your best friend, Vinnie? He was such a trouble maker, that kid! More like a normal 16-year-old TV character, which made the differences between you two all the more pronounced. Remember that time he followed you around with a video camera to make a reality documentary about you? I bet he wishes he had patented that idea, huh—the first reality TV series, from our very own goofball Vinnie!
We used to get you a little mixed up with that Anthony Michael Hall guy, we admit. There was a resemblance back in the day, and you have that 3-name thing going, too, Mr. Neil Patrick Harris. Still, if you’ve seen AMH lately (and no, I haven’t either—if you run into him ask him to friend me on facebook, would you?), you look a lot more like your youthful self than he does. (Last time we met, he was, against all odds, a great big muscle-bound dude.)
But you, NPH, look like your same old self these days as Barney on How I Met Your Mother. That is to say, totally adorable. And those recent pictures of you and your hubby and your baby twins are just as sweet as can be.
Sorry to get so personal, Doogie. But seeing as you’ve been joining me in my living room since 1989, I almost feel like we’ve grown up together.
And if there’s anyone out there who has never seen your earliest work, I say, check it out. Doogie Howser, MD was done by Steven Bochco, who also brought us Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. I guess Doogie was a way for him to get all the rated-G stuff out of his system, and he did it with lots of humor and fondness. Doogie faced tough times, of course—what 16-year-old doctor doesn’t? But there weren’t gory traumas bleeding all over camera or graying corpses whose grisly manner of death was in question. The magic of the show was that Doogie really did come off as a normal, everyday kid, despite the crazy setting.
He had growing pains with his parents, even moving out on his own at one point. I loved that. It was such a good way of showing how so many kids that age feel: that they are way too worldly for their tiny little childhood home. They are so far beyond their parents in terms of worldliness, in fact, that it’s like they know more at 16 than their parents ever will.
But for Doogie, it was actually kind of true. He was way beyond them in terms of what he’d done and what he’d seen and where his life was going. That’s why he seemed so relatable. We’d been there too, even if we’d never actually been to medical school. Doogie Howser, MD managed to use a completely unlikely premise to come up with a completely authentic show about a kid who was growing up fast and never quite sure just where he fit in.
Yep, NPH, you had us at Howser.
Doogie Howser, MD Intro