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Doogie Howser, M.D. - Season One



DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
MSRP: $39.98
Number of discs: 4
Number of episodes: 26
Total runtime: 624 minutes
Special Features Runtime: approx 35 minutes
Audio Tracks: English 2.0
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
Interviews with Steven Bochco & Neil Patrick Harris
An 8-Page “Delpino-ized” “Doogie’s Journal” insert with notes


When we’re all little, we all dream of being astronauts, firemen- and the largest majority of us want to be doctors when we grow up. Well, child genius Douglas “Doogie” Howser managed to do young children the world over one better ­ He finished high school in 9 weeks, pulled off a perfect score on the SAT's at 6, graduated from Princeton at 10, and passed his medical board exam at 14, making it into full residency at Eastwood Medical Center in LA by the time of his 16th birthday. The first season of the comedy-drama hybrid Doogie Howser is now on DVD.

Neil Patrick Harris stars as Doogie Howser, M.D. ­ a resident physician at Eastwood Medical Center in LA. To run through a typical day in his life ­ on his 16th birthday (the series pilot), he both attended a dance and had his first kiss ­ then turned right around and lost his first patient ever less than an hour later, through it all, his best friend Vinnie Delpino (Max Casella), his parents (Belinda Montgomery, James Sikking), and his girlfriend Wanda (Lisa Dean Ryan). Coworkers at Eastwood include Dr. Benjamin Canfield (Lawrence Pressman), Dr. Jack McGwire (Mitchell Anderson), and Nurse Curly Spaulding.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

There are no real standout episodes this season. Obviously, the pilot’s a must-watch. Honestly, the majority of the season is reasonably balanced, in my opinion, and there’s really nothing to spotlight ­ the entire season’s quite good, what else can you expect from the great Stephen Bochco and David E. Kelley? The only real guest star in the first season is Josie Bissett (later of Melrose Place). Doogie never really had many guest starts throughout its run, let alone in the first season.


As far as the packaging goes it is in two snap cases in a cardboard sleeve. A nice white and blue scheme is used with Doogie in his white scrubs. There's a different picture of Doogie on the front of each snap case. The inside covers, behind the disc holders, have various stills of the show. The discs are held in two snap cases, with discs one and two in case one, while the third and fourth discs are held in the second case. Episodes 1-7 are on the first disc, the next seven on disc two, episodes 15-21 on Disc Three, and the last five episodes on the final disc. Discs one and three are in white and discs two and four are in blue.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Menus are incredibly well done. The menu itself is sent against Doogie’s computer screen, a focal point of the series. As various anatomy diagrams and newspaper articles about Doogie circle around the screen, a version of the main theme plays. At the same time, the computer screen in the background is typing something, though it’s impossible to read what with the pictures swirling around. The Play All, Special Features, and Episodes buttons are in easy to read text on top of a black translucent background over the bottom left corner of the background, while the Season and Disc numbers are in a similar box in the top-right half of the screen.

Video and Audio Quality:

There’s a bit of dirt in the episodes themselves -­ the show IS sixteen years old, and there’s some evidence of attempted edge correction in places, but it’s nothing that’ll interfere with the picture itself. There are virtually no compression artifacts -­ seven half-hour episodes on the first three discs, and five plus another 30 minutes of features on the fourth disc, allowed Anchor Bay to get a decent episode number balance on the discs, as well as minimizing compression. Audio is a nice 2.0 mix. Audio from both speakers is balanced; there are no cutouts or glitches on either channel. Overall, a good transfer from the masters. The runtime on the pilot is a full 24 minutes. The rest of the season one episodes ranges from just short of 23 minutes up to just short of 24.

Special Features:

Special features on the set are incredibly sparse. The only real special features are an 8-page “Personal Journal of Doogie Howser” that’s been “Delpino-ized”. The main journal’s basically just a general overview of Doogie’s life, “written by Doogie.” There are little comments written in the gaps and margins by Doogie’s friend Vinnie. Finally, there are two interview pieces. One with creator Stephen Bochco, which runs over 17 minutes or so and one with star Neil Patrick Harris that runs a little over 16 minutes.

Final Comments:

Overall, it’s a decently-made set for a series that’s better than I remember. The transfer of the episodes from the masters to the discs went well. The only complaint I have is over the lack of special features. They managed to get interviews with both Steven Bochco and Neil Patrick Harris, ­ why couldn’t they have laid down a few commentary bits while they had them? Also, perhaps some bloopers, outtakes, and promos from the original ABC run might be nice for future sets. Hopefully we see season two in the near future!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Seth on 04/04/05

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