If Mrs. Howser were a Ferengi, would that make her Doogie's Moogie? (That's the funniest blurb Appellate Judge Mac McEntire could think of.)
Our reviews of Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season One (published April 6th, 2005), Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Two (published November 9th, 2005), and Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Four (published May 31st, 2006) are also available.
"I haven't felt like a child prodigy in a long time."
What do you do when your teenage doctor is no longer a teenager? That was the conundrum facing the writers of Doogie Howser, M.D. as the series grew up in its third year. Fortunately, the writers, which included series creator Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) and future TV superstar David E. Kelley (Boston Legal) gave the show a renewed focus on character development and interaction during its third year.
Now, Anchor Bay has released all 24 episodes of season three on a four-disc set, so viewers everywhere can relive the ups and downs of Doogie's 18th year.
Facts of the Case
Dr. Douglas "Doogie" Howser (Neil Patrick Harris, Undercover Brother) is a bona fide genius, having spent what would have been his high school years as a full-blown doctor in an LA hospital. Now that he's 18, life has slowed down a little for the teen doc, with plenty of time to hang out with his best friend Vinnie (Max Casella, Ed Wood), Vinnie's girlfriend Janine (Lucy Boryer, Body Bags), and his parents David (James B. Sikking, Hill Street Blues) and Katherine (Belinda Montgomery, Days of Our Lives). At the hospital, Doogie has support from his nurse friend Curly Spaulding (Kathryn Lang, The Marrying Man), his stern boss Dr. Canfield (Lawrence Pressman, American Pie), and gang-banger turned orderly Raymond (Markus Redman, Fight Club). Doogie's relationship with his girlfriend Wanda (Lisa Dean Ryan, Dead At 21) officially ends this year, but she remains a part of his life in one way or another.
• "The Summer of '91"
• "Doogie has Left the Building" Parts One and Two
• "It's a Damn Shaman"
• "The Cheese Stands Alone"
• "Lonesome Doog"
• "When Doogie Comes Marching Home"
• "Room and Broad"
• "Truth and Consequences"
• "It's a Wonderful Laugh"
• "Dangerous Reunions"
• "Mummy Dearest"
• "Double Doogie with Cheese"
• "The Show Mustn't Go On"
• "If this is Adulthood, I'd Rather be in
• "What You See Ain't Necessarily What You Get"
• "My Father, My Self"
• "Educating Janine"
• "Sons of the Desert"
• "That's what Friends Are For"
• "Thanks for the Memories"
• "Club Medicine"
The "teenage doctor" novelty that made the first season so amusing wore off quickly. The second season was then marked by bland and tedious sitcom clichés. For this third season, the creators wisely decided to focus on the drama half of this "dramedy." The emphasis of Doogie Howser M.D.'s third season is on the characters' relationships with each other. Friendships, romances, and parent/child interactions are all put to the test this year.
Vinnie gets as much screen time here as Doogie, if not more. No longer just comic relief, Vinnie deals with his parents, Janines' parents, and his ongoing patience with Janine herself. Vinnie makes a lot of self-discoveries this season, often with Doogie along only as an observer.
Another recurring theme here is that of becoming an adult. Sure, the characters always wondered about their futures, but now, they're standing on the edge of the cliff. Vinnie struggles with life as an artist vs. actually making a living. Janine wonders whether college is the right path for her, and even Doogie faces the unknown in his career. Several episodes have the younger characters standing up for themselves, insisting they have what it takes to be an adult.
And that brings us to sex. Sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. Sexy McSex-sex. This series has been preoccupied with sex from day one, but in this season all that tension grows and then builds up to a climax (Cough! Ahem.) with the almost-controversial episode when Doogie loses his virginity. It happens just as Wanda leaves for another city, and two worry they'll never see each other again, so there's conveniently no "morning after" drama to deal with immediately. And for parents, rest assured that nothing explicit happens on screen. Your middle-schoolers have seen steamier stuff in their copies of Maxim.
Before you think this season offers nothing but "horny college guy" comedy, there are some moments of heart here as well. This is seen in the season's standout episode, "Doogstruck" when Doogie encounters someone who might have become his soul mate, if only they had more than one night to share with each other. "Doogstruck" is real old-fashioned romance, the kind rarely seen in Hollywood anymore, and it's one of the series's finest moments.
Picture and audio quality here pick up from where the previous box sets left off, with bright colors and no distortion in the sound. The extras consist of Harris and Sikking sharing their memories of day-to-day life on the set. Again, it's unfortunate that the extras aren't more substantial, but what's here isn't bad.
Newcomers to the weird world of Doogie are better off starting with the first season. For everyone who suffered through the tedious second season, know that this one is an improvement.
And the diagnosis is: Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Neil Patrick Harris Interview
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