Actor Neil Patrick Harris got his big break at the young age of 16 when he was chosen to star in the Doogie Howser M.D. series for ABC. Created by Steven Bochco, Harris played a teenage prodigy who zipped through medical school and became a working physician at the age of 14. Each episode ended with Doogie typing into his computer journal about the day’s events.
The series lasted for four seasons and, unfortunately, left the actor typecast. Much as he tried, Harris found it difficult to land other film and television work. In 2006, he told The Trades, “I think people assume that once you start working you’re kind of in the door and can work as much as you want. I’ve seen that absolutely not be the case. You can work and things will be super golden, and then all of a sudden you can’t get work, and you don’t work for years and years.”
The multi-talented Harris turned to stage work and landed roles on Broadway and in regional productions. He’s starred in shows like Sweeney Todd, Proof, Cabaret, Assassins, and Rent. Harris returned to series television in 2005 when he was cast in CBS’ How I Met Your Mother as the egocentric lothario, Barney Stinson. The role came in part as a result of the actor playing a fictional version of himself in the cult classic Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
Though the role typecast Harris, he has great affection for Doogie today. He told the NY Times, “When you’re an adolescent, you want to redefine yourself. But I’m 32 and now appreciate the uniqueness of that whole chapter.”
Last night’s episode of Mother provided an homage to his old character — complete with theme song and hokey blue computer screen. It’s a reference that many 1980s TV fans have been waiting for. Take a look…
Alan Sepinwall asked co-creator Carter Bays about the homage and he said, “Neil loved doing the Doogie tag… I think he agreed it definitely felt like too great of an idea not to do at least once. And Season Three seemed like the time to do it.” Stay tuned!