The Lowdown on: Neil Patrick Harris aka Doogie Howser

July 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

neil-patrick-harris.jpgAny child of the nineties will remember that baby faced whizz-kid Dr Doogie Howser. At a mere 16 years old, NPH (as the hipper of us would call him) made Dr Doug Ross look like an inept, cranky old man.

While some of us might believe that NPH emerged fully grown in 1989 from the mighty brain of some sort of god, he was of course born normally like other people. The strangely comical sounding town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was his birth place on June 15th 1973.

His first role came in fourth grade when he appeared as Toto in the school play. Critics and his parents hailed the performance as ‘brilliant’ and ‘the most astounding performance of Toto I have ever been blessed to see’.

It was in 1988 playing opposite Whoopi Goldberg in Clara’s Heart that he started making an impact, and after starring in children’s fantasy film Purple People Eater he was snapped up to play the lead role in Doogie Howser, MD. A show about a child genius who is also a doctor, but deals with all the pitfalls of teendom along the way. This precarious sounding premise ended up becoming a hit series that ran for four seasons and thrust NPH into the light of child stardom.

Whilst you might expect a long road of drink drugs and rehab, NPH seemed to survive the regular temptations of young fortune and actually disappeared for a number of years. He was quickly dismissed as yet another forgotten child star.

It wasn’t until Starship Troopers in 1998 that he popped back into popular consciousness again, as the geeky best friend of the heroic lead played by Casper Van Dien. The cult success of the film, and NPH’s comically straight-faced turn, was enough to earn a grudging respect from audiences.

However it wasn’t until a guest turn in another cult hit, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, in 2004 that mainstream audiences started to realise that Harris had some serious comic talent. In the role he sent himself up as a has-been star with a penchant for binges and bee-atches.

This in turn led to the role that really turned audiences’ heads as Barney in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. The slightly delusional, comically self centered character totally stole the show and there is no doubt that he carried the comedy in its rocky first season.

Today NPH is gaining a rep as a fierce comic talent who doesn’t mind experimenting with style. His most recent work was in Joss Whedon’s online web show Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog. His all-singing, all-dancing portrayal of Dr Horrible pulled together a show that, frankly, sounded REALLY dodgy on paper and turned into an affectionate, hilarious and strangely poignant show.

Oh and for those who care, he came out last year, much to the sadness of many women and the happiness of many men.

Mostly though, at the age of 35, Neil Patrick Harris has established that he’s got lasting talent.

by McGee Noble