Yet again, Hollywood has picked through the metaphorical brain folds of modern audiences, spotted something that was popular decades go but still retains some name recognition, and decided to resurrect it with a modern spin. The culprit this time: Doogie Howser, M.D., the 1989 ABC sitcom about a teenaged doctor played by a young Neil Patrick Harris.
A Doogie Howser reboot is in development at Disney+ from How I Met Your Mother and Fresh Off the Boat writer/producer Kourtney Kang spearheading the new iteration. Dust off your stethoscope and get the details below.
According to Deadline, Kourtney Kang is developing a Doogie Howser reboot for Disney+ that currently has the working title of Doogie Kealoha, M.D. This version will be set in Hawaii and focus on a half Asian, half white 16-year-old girl who works as a doctor. Kang, who was born in Hawaii, evidently wanted to bring a little of her own experience into the series and inject a bit of color into this version. It’s hard to blame her, considering a majority of medical procedurals on television have white leads (and, frankly, are often so bland that they’re practically interchangeable.)
The original series, which was Harris’s big launchpad as an actor, ran for four seasons and became popular enough that the term “Doogie” is still used by those of a certain age to refer to a teenaged expert in a given subject. Kang will executive produce the reboot along with Jake Kasdan (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and his producing partner Melvin Mar for 20th Century Fox TV. Jesse and Dayna Bochco, the son and widow (respectively) of original Doogie Howser co-creator Steven Bochco, will also serve as executive producers.
Doogie Howser, M.D. was a hit in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but do young Disney+ audiences care about that? I imagine name recognition is probably most effective if an audience has an established relationship with a property instead of just being vaguely aware of it. How many 16-year-olds do you know who have ever heard of this show, let alone seen an episode of it? Are Disney+ execs hoping that parents who grew up watching the series will be scrolling through the service, discover this new version, and convince their kids to watch it with them? It just seems like the ship has sailed on a Doogie Howser reboot. And since Disney+ doesn’t release traditional viewership numbers, I guess we’ll never know how this iteration truly performs on the streaming platform.
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