Filming began Monday in Waimanalo for “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” the Hawaii-staged reboot of the popular TV drama “Doogie Howser, M.D.”
The show, described as a “dramedy,” is the brainchild of Hawaii native Kourtney Kang, who has gone on to broad success in screenwriting and producing. She was a story editor for the TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” which starred Neil Patrick Harris, who played the original teenage doctor Doogie Howser. Kang also wrote for “Fresh Off the Boat,” a sitcom about an Chinese American family living in Florida. Though she left Hawaii at a young age, Kang retains close ties to the islands, said Donne Dawson, Hawaii state film commissioner.
“The ‘Doogie Howser, M.D.’ show was beloved back in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” Dawson said. “The fact this very beloved show that so many of us grew up with is now getting this very distinctive Hawaiian storyline, and that the producers and creator Kourtney Kang are going to great lengths to make it very authentic, is beautiful and something that Hawaii can be very proud of.”
The show stars Chinese American actress Peyton Elizabeth Lee in the title role of a brilliant, precocious teenager who is a resident in family medicine at a fictional hospital. Her supervisor is her mother, Dr. Clara Hannon, played by Kathleen Rose Perkins, who is described as a “spitfire Irish mother.” Hannon is married to a Hawaiian man, Benny Kamealoha played by Jason Scott Lee. His character is described as someone who worked in finance on the mainland but decided to come back to the islands to raise his three children. He runs a shave ice/flower business from his truck.
Dawson noted that Jason Scott Lee, who is part Native Hawaiian and grew up on Oahu, lives in Volcano Village on Hawaii island and has three children himself. “He brings that very potent mana to the role,” she said.
One of the main sets will be at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Kakaako. “The entire third floor of the cancer center has been designed to look like a wing of a hospital in Hawaii,” Donne said. “That is where the Doogie Kamealoha character will be practicing her medicine as a teenager.”
Dawson said the cast and crew will be observing strict protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including regular testing and staying in pods to minimize contact with others.
Filming for the 10-episode premiere season is expected to last until May, Dawson said, with an expected debut in mid to late summer on Disney+.