'Doogie Kameāloha, M.D' vs 'Doogie Howser, M.D'

We fans of classic sitcoms and series  just have to resign ourselves with the fact that we are in the era of remakes and reboots, whether we like it or not. With The Wonder Years in its second episode, Doogie Kamealoha is in its fourth. 

Doogie Kamealoha,  M.D
  is the reboot of the  ABC family medical drama, Doogie Howser, M.D which starred  Neil Patrick Harris (long before  How I Met Your Mother) and ran for four seasons (1989-1993). Harris played the titular character, Doogie  Howser; a child prodigy with an eidetic memory who graduates from medical school at the age of 14. The series, which opened with Doogie just clocking 16 and in the second year of his residency; dealt with his struggle to balance his status as the youngest doctor in the country and the challenges of being a teenager. The series also dealt with social issues which  included  racism, homophobia and  AIDS awareness.  

Doogie Kamealoha. M.D  made its debut on Disney +  on the 8th of September, 2021. This time the young doctor is 16 year old Lahela Kameahola played by Peyton Elizabeth Lee, and set in Hawaii. And it has run enough  to map out what is different and what remains the same between the reboot and the original. 

DIFFERENT: Protagonist's Heritage

Doogie was a full Caucasian male  while Lehala is the daughter of a Japanese Hawaiian father (played by Jason Scott Lee, yah!!!) and a white Irish mother (played by Kathleen Rose Perkins). 

SAME:  Opening Title Sequence 

Like Doogie, Lehala's  accomplishments are shown in the opening title sequence via (framed) newspaper cuttings displayed in her bedroom, with an updated version of the original show's theme song and the protagonist's sneakers shown before the camera moves up to show her walking with her colleagues.  

DIFFERENT:   Parents'  Occupations 

While Doogie's  mum was a housewife prior to being a patient advocate at his hospital and his father a doctor (with his own  practice), it's way different in this reboot. Lehala's mum Clara  is not only a doctor, she is also Lehala's boss. Ouch. Benny, her papa,  on the other hand runs a successful food truck. 

SAME: Window Climbing Best Friend 

Doogie's best friend Vinnie Delpino (played by Max Casella) had the habit of entering Doogie's house via his bedroom window.  Vinnie was streetwise and had a passion for film making but also had the knack of getting Doogie into trouble, plus being girl crazy.

 Lehala's best friend Stef Denisco (Emma Meisel) - who is of Italian descent like Vinnie, from her name- also has the window climbing habit and is boy-crazy; but so far the main object of her obsessive  affection is Lehala's brother.

DIFFERENT:  Siblings 

Unlike Doogie who was an only child, Lehala has two brothers and is the  middle child. Kai, her older brother (Matthew Sato) is a would be chef while her younger brother Brian (Wes Tian) is a precocious pre-teen. 

SAME: Over Protective Parents,  First On-Screen Medical Case and First Tragedy 

Doogie was able to prescribe medication due to his unique status but his parents still tended to treat him like the teenager he was, much to his frustration; half the time restricting some of his activities or attempting to make decisions for him. Doogie's mother Katherine (Belinda Montgomery) especially tended to be overprotective of him, riding with him and the driving instructor during his driver's test in the series' first episode.  Lehala's situation is a tad worse, being the only daughter, her mother especially trying to keep her a little girl a tad longer because she wants to keep her safe. Lehala's father Benny was seen riding with her and the instructor during her driver's test in the reboot's first episode. Which, like in the original, was interrupted, when the young doctor stopped to help an accident victim and deal with sceptical policemen nearby. Added to that, both Doogies were left bereft when a patient dies later in the episode- original Doogie's being a little African American boy and Lehala's a charming old man. 

DIFFERENT: The Nickname's Origin 

 Lehala's reason for being called 'Doogie' is  due to a  direct reference to  the original show and its titular character.  In the first episode, one of her colleagues tells a sceptical patient, (to Lehla's exasperation), 'You know who she's like? That show from the 90s? She's like a real-life Doogie Howser.'  

However in the original, Doogie's nickname was a play on his actual name, Douglas. 

SAME:  The Protagonist's struggle for Balance

Being a 16 year old doctor brings considerable praise and awe but both Doogie's other self is a teenager who wants to enjoy life before it goes by, which includes hanging out with your peers and teenager's extra curricular activities. However,  it's a hard thing to do with an early medical career and the fact you graduated from high school long before your friends did.


The final scene of every episode in the original series was Doogie  in his bedroom making an entry-   an inner reflection of the day's experience and the lesson learnt- in his computerised diary kept since 1979. Lehala's method of reflecting on the day's experience is in the form of a  daily Vlog. 

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