04 September 2007

Doogie Does my DVD

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Rough weekend. First there was the lack of productivity, then the shitty construction (see below, for my racist comments about that), then the dreaded Three Red Lights on the XBox's Ring O' Light.

Since it's our DVD player as well as my sometime gaming console, it needed to be replaced quickly. I was just not confident enough in the weekend's tennis offerings to go without a backup plan. So we ran out to Best Buy and picked up an Elite. While there, wifey-poo found the perfect (and way cheap on sale) DVDs for the weekend - the above season 1 of Doogie Howser, M.D.

I remember it being better. NPH rocks, even as a kid, but the show doesn't hold up that well. First off, it doesn't bring the funny. It was one of the first single-camera, half-hour dramedies and it shows a bit of the awkwardness of a new art form whose legs aren't quite strong enough to support its new frame. Worse than the shortage of humor is the heavy-handed moralizing in Doogie's "youseetimmy" journal entries that close each episode.

We're most of the way through this first season (whether we buy the remaining three is open to discussion) and Doogie's already learned so much. Those valuable life lesson - so neatly summarized in two or three pithy sentences that reek of co-creator David E. Kelley's touch - are so easily spoofed because they are so facile. Take those away and the episodes are actually stronger. With them, the previous 22 minutes come off as little more than a live-action Davey and Goliath.

To its credit, there's no laughtrack. There's also Vinnie - the redoubtable Max Casella. Vinnie brings the funny. And thank goodness for that. The show would drown in its own treacle if not for the lifesaver that is Vinnie. He especially makes up for wet-blanket Wanda. Ugh.

Should you watch Doogie Howser? I can't possibly answer that. Before this weekend I'd have recommended it heartily based on my fond recollections. After making it through episode 23 of 26...um, well...it's still NPH. It's hard to go wrong there. Besides, the first season's pretty damn cheap. If you're the right age and have fond memories of Doogie, give it a shot. At worst, you just appreciate NPH more on HIMYM or in Harold and Kumar.


Anonymous said...

Gonna have to rent it from Netflix. I recall really enjoying it. But I am aware that might be 90% nostalgia.

I had a similar response after watching Square Pegs. I thought it was better than it seems to be. Though I would still buy it should it ever get released on dvd.


R.A. Porter said...

Yeah. I caught an episode of Square Pegs a year or two back. It doesn't hold up well.