The Boy Who Would Be Swarley

Considering his recent career resurgence thanks to How I Met Your Mother, his talk show, American Idol, and awards show appearances, and most recently his guest shot on Glee -- not to mention the popularity of this show back in its original run -- discussing Neil Patrick Harris' first TV series, the legen-- wait for it --dary (sorry, couldn't help it) Doogie Howser, M.D., isn't exactly an esoteric subject ... although it does fit this blog, since Doogie was one of the first geeks, especially lead-character geeks, to be embraced by pop culture.

Created by not one, but two powerhouse TV producers, David E. Kelley and Steven Bochco (that'd be kind-of like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams teaming up for a TV series -- awesome idea, eh?), Doogie Howser, M.D., showed us the implausible but all-too-human life of a 16-year-old boy who happened to be a child prodigy and a practicing physician at a Los Angeles hospital. It ran for four seasons, over the entire course of which Doogie would chronicle his life's lessons learned in a journal on his computer every night before he went to bed. I liked Doogie so much that, for awhile, even I kept a journal just like that. (Unfortunately it's long since gone ... would have been fun to look back on it all these years later.)

Not only was the rest of the regular cast enjoyable to watch -- particularly Max Casella (later of The Sopranos) as Doogie's best friend, the perpetually girl-obsessed Vinnie Delpino, and James B. Sikking as Doogie's down-to-earth, family-doctor father -- but plenty of interesting guest stars also popped up on occasion, such as Nana Visitor, René Auberjonois, Robyn Lively, Jeffrey Tambor, Jennifer Gatti, David Graf, David James Elliott, Tracy Scoggins, and a very young Shiri Appleby.

I picked up the first season on DVD as soon as it was released, because I knew I'd have some fun watching Doogie again after all those years ... but I never imagined I'd enjoy the show enough to buy all the other seasons and watch every single episode! The series may have begun to show its age a couple of years in -- always a danger with shows starring kids -- but it was watchable through its entire run. Curiously, though, the manufacturers have allowed the DVD releases to go out-of-print ... very strange, considering Neil Patrick Harris' return to fame.