Dr. Douglas “Doogie” Howser (Harris) is the son of David (James B. Sikking) and Katherine Howser (Belinda Montgomery). As a child, he twice survived early-stage pediatric leukemia after his father—a family physician—discovered suspicious bruising. The experience contributed to the younger Howser’s desire to enter medicine.
Possessing a genius intellect and an eidetic memory, Howser participates in a longitudinal study of child prodigies until his 18th birthday. He earned a perfect score on the SAT at the age of six, completed high school in nine weeks at the age of nine, graduated from Princeton University in 1983 at age 10, and finished medical school four years later. At age 14, Howser was the youngest licensed doctor in the country. As a newspaper article (one of several noting some of Doogie’s aforementioned accomplishments that are shown in the series’ opening title sequence) stated, he “can’t buy beer… [but] can prescribe drugs”.
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 second-year resident surgeon at Eastman Medical Center in Los Angeles, and still lives at home 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 connects him to life outside of medicine. Howser has kept a diary on his computer since 1979; episodes typically end with him making an entry in it, making observations about the situations he had experienced or learned in the episode.
Doogie Howser, M.D. is an American medical comedy-drama television series that ran for four seasons on ABC from September 19, 1989, to March 24, 1993, totaling 97 episodes. Created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley, the show stars Neil Patrick Harris in the title role as a teenage physician who balances the challenge of practicing medicine with the everyday problems of teenage life.