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Doogie Howser, M.D. - Season Three



DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
MSRP: $39.98
Number of discs: 4
Number of episodes: 24
Total runtime: 628 minutes
Special Features Runtime: 21:34
Audio Tracks: English 2.0
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
Interviews - Neil Patrick Harris: Growing Up on the Set
James B. Sikking: The Other Dr. Howser


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 third 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:

Some memorable episodes this season include: The Summer of '91, Doogie Has Left the Building, Lonesome Doog, Doogiesomething, Double Doogie with Cheese, and Thanks for the Memories. As far as special guest stars go, the only one found was David James Elliott­ of JAG fame­ in the episode The Show Musn't Go On. If there were any others, they weren't credited.


As far as the packaging goes it is in two snap cases in a cardboard sleeve. Each of the three main pictures features Doogie with various characters. The front cover has Wanda kissing Doogie, while Vinnie is hugging both, and Doogie just stands there with this grin on his face. The cover of the first slim case has Vinnie and Doogie working the register at a Fast Food restaurant. The second slim case’s cover has Doogie putting his arm around Vinnie while both sitting on top of a hospital bed. The inside of both slim cases has stills from various points in season three behind the discs.

Disc Art follows the same style as previous seasons, just with some color changes. Disc 1 is now white with a green 1. Disc 1 contains the first 6 episodes. Disc 2 is green with a white 2, and has the next 6 episodes. Disc 3 is light green, with a dark green 3, and has episodes 13-18. Finally, disc 4 is dark green with a white 4, and has episodes 19-24.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Menus are well done, but the graphical parts of the menus are still holdovers from the season 1 - and season 2 - set. I say the graphical part because the audio during the menu is different. Doogie Howser M.D. had a reworked theme in its third season, and they *did* substitute that in. But as in both previous releases, all visuals in the menu are the same: various anatomy diagrams and newspaper articles about Doogie circle around the screen, while the main theme plays. At the same time, the computer screen in the background is typing something, though it's impossible to read what it says with the pictures swirling around. The Play All, Special Features, and Episodes buttons are in east 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. The episode selection menu is the same DOS-era word processor styled list used in previous seasons' sets. The special features menu features this same DOS word processor-style list.

Video and Audio Quality:

And out of the fog I come. The video quality on these episodes seems…better…than on previous seasons, though I can't quite put my finger on what's changed. The video is generally sharp, with occasionally places that don't look sharpened QUITE enough. The audio is the same 2.0 mix we've come to love [?]…uh…expect. A chapter stop in each episode after the end credits is roughly it as far as things go, which is kind of disappointing. Still, one chapter stop is better than none, I guess.

Due to the recent practice by some outfits of releasing syndicated episodes of a series onto DVD as opposed to the much-preferred master copies, from here onward in all my reviews I will be listing the runtimes of every episode in the DVD set next to the episode title. As I don't always have the resources to judge every show versus the original or syndicated copies, I may be unable to state with certainty whether a set is original broadcast-length or if it's syndication-edited in some cases, therefore I'm including runtimes, and you can make up your own mind. Some of the runtimes on this one look suspicious ­ I've starred the ones that look off. The 21-ish ones definitely scare me, as do those in the low 22's. Mid 22s and up could possibly be just short episodes, but I've pointed them out anyway:

Disc 1:
The Summer of '91: 23:32
* Doogie Has Left the Building (1): 22:27
Doogie Has Left the Building (2): 23:01
* It's a Damn Shame: 22:56
The Cheese Stands Alone: 23:16
Lonesome Doog: 23:16

Disc 2:
When Doogie Comes Marching Home: 23:22
Doogstruck: 23:24
Room and Broad: 23:22
Doogiesomething: 23:26
* Truth and Consequences: 22:23
It's a Wonderful Laugh: 23:22

Disc 3:
Dangerous Reunions: 23:05
* Mummy Dearest: 21:57
* Double Doogie with Cheese: 21:41
* The Show Mustn't Go On: 22:35
If This is Adulthood, I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia 23:16
What You See Ain't Necessarily What You Get: 23:27

Disc 4:
My Father, My Self: 23:14
Educating Janine: 23:10
Sons of the Desert: 23:21
That's What Friends of Friends are For: 23:15
Thanks for the Memories: 23:12
Club Medicine: 23:33

Despite the frequent use of licensed music in the series,­ there is NO music replacement. I and the many fans of the show thank Anchor Bay for this.

Special Features:

Special features on the set are sparse, but hey, we're used to it by now. Two interviews (plus some Anchor Bay DVD Previews)

Doogie Howser, M.D., Growing Up on the Set: Runs 12:02. Neil talks about growing up on the set. Right off the bat, he discusses what shooting was like the initial couple of seasons, when he had to rush back and forth between "school" and the set constantly. There would be a 2nd Assistant Director whose primary job was to pull him away after exactly 20 minutes….and then once they had a close-up of others, they rushed him back. They had a photo double as a standing for certain scenes ­ while having a line double below him, making Neil's co-stars have to pay attention to a visual double, while listening to a voice double in a completely different location. Despite this being the 3rd interview with Neil, they've still got new content for the interviews, which is good.

James B. Sikking: The Other Dr. Howser: Runs 9:32. In 1987, after Hill Street Blues, James and his wife went to China for a couple of years. In '89, Steven [Bochco] was now working on a 10-series commitment from ABC. The studio was having a genuinely hard time finding an actor for the prodigy until they found Neil. It was a bit tough for James to go from the type of guy he was on Hill Street Blues…to the guy he was on Doogie Howser. Other comments like this make this interview an interesting watch.

Runtime of Special Features: 21:34

Final Comments:

The video, for whatever reason, just seemed better on this set. Maybe it's just me, I don’t know, but it just seemed improved over past efforts. This set's about wrapped for Anchor Bay, so there's really no point in saying what I hope for in future releases, as the 4th and final season is probably already mapped out.

I'm not sure if the shorter runtimes on some episodes are due to episodes being short....or if they're I won't say either way. Regardless, it's an enjoyable set, and would make a nice addition to anyone's DVD collection - though to anyone's DVD collection - though you may want to pick up seasons 1 and 2 first.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 01/15/06

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