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When Kourtney Kang was first thinking about how she could reimagine “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” she didn’t rule out any possibility. One idea was to have the original Doogie (Neil Patrick Harris) be the head of the hospital now, and the new show would center around his teenage daughter. In the end, Kang decided on a reboot, rather than a continuation series, but she stuck with the idea of having the new Doogie deal with a parent for a boss.

In “Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.,” which launches Sept. 8 on Disney Plus, the titular 16-year-old doctor’s real name is Lahela (played by Peyton Elizabeth Lee), and she works at a Hawaiian hospital under her mother, Dr. Clara Hannon (Kathleen Rose Perkins).

“It’s already hard for a mother to keep a 16-year-old daughter close to her and also having to navigate a working relationship felt interesting to us,” Kang tells Variety. “It really did push story and created a unique dynamic. At the end of the day, they both do really love their careers, and our writing staff is mostly women and there are a lot of moms on staff and we always would laugh because we have so many scenes about the women pursuing careers and the men in their lives being sounding boards. We thought it would be great for them to have that in common.”

Lahela has the nickname of Doogie because the original show exists in the world of this new show. Everyone around her thinks her story is eerily similar to that fictional character’s since they are both medical prodigies. The original sitcom, created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley for 20th Century Fox Television, ran from 1989 to 1993 on ABC. It made a star of Harris, who played a young prodigy navigating a tough medical residency program as a teenager.

“It was freeing and it felt exciting that it was just her nickname. I think it allowed us the license to really do the show that we really wanted to do,” Kang says.

Kang pulled from her own family life for “Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.,” including naming Lee’s character after her eldest daughter. She also included a runner in the series about Clara joining her daughter’s TikToks, something Kang boasts she got to do.

“I jumped in immediately with this giant smile on my face. I was just so excited to be there. So, that vibe very much became a part of the show,” Kang explains.

But the series also has deep roots in the original IP, starting with the premise of a coming-of-age story in which a teenager is juggling life the way adults usually have to. Lahela also ends each episode writing about her day and the lessons she learned from her patients and her family. And, Kang shares, some first season episodes will be new versions of stories the original series tackled.

“One in particular was the episode where there’s a doctor Doogie really admires who comes to town and is doing this really cutting edge stuff but then won’t accept Doogie into the program because he’s too young. And so, we took the essence of that story and we did that in Episode 7; we got Max Greenfield to come and play this hotshot doctor,” she previews.

Kang admits that with this new version of the show, “there was some math to figure out” as to how to mix the “spirit” of the original into a version for a new audience. The greatest thing she and her writers’ room learned from the first season was that “the stories are most satisfying when what’s happening at home and what’s happening at work complement each other somehow.” While it’s a start that Lahela can’t fully separate the two since her mother is her boss, this also comes into play in other ways, such as conversations she has with friends and connections she makes with patients helping her come to terms with feelings about others in her life.

Kang also points to the larger problem for the Lahela character: Figuring out who she is.

“She’s so, so smart and so, so good at this one thing, but then there are all these other things she needs to figure out,” she says, noting that there is also a question of whether Lahela will be a doctor forever.

A big theme of the show, she explains, is “trying to figure out your North Star and getting there, and sometimes it shifts.” For Lahela’s father, Benny (Jason Scott Lee), he had a career in finance but made a change to be true to himself. Since Lahela is only 16, change is all around her, Kang says “She’s also so capable and brilliant that she’s good at this, but she could be good at any number of things.”

For now, though, her medical career is front and center in her life, but balanced on the show with “lighthearted family comedy and YA romance,” Kang says. “We have all of these notes and a real goal was to figure out an overall tone that would allow us to play all of these notes. To me, that’s what’s exciting about the show: We’ll go from a lighthearted run about a little boy who hopes he has a chest hair right into a guy who can’t walk.”

The patients Lahela sees have serious conditions, and they won’t all have happy endings. “I really felt this show needed to feel real; we really needed to believe that she is a doctor. And I think having the truth of what being a doctor actually means sometimes was really important. And also, by giving her a low low, it gives the people around her a chance to step in and help, and that’s what gives the show a hopeful feel,” Kang says. “By having the truth of the moment be [a] really difficult thing to deal with, I think it sets up that not everything is going to be how you want it to be, but you’re ultimately going to be OK because of the people around you.”

But the one medical storyline the show is not touching is the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We pitched the show at the end of 2019 and everybody was excited, and then by 2020 things changed dramatically and there was a question of whether we’d address [the pandemic] came up. Ultimately, it didn’t seem to make sense in this world that we were building,” Kang says.

“In the second episode she has a patient who’s paralyzed and she doesn’t know why, but she’s also trying to figure out what’s going on with the boy who kissed her because she thought he liked her. Balancing all of that was tricky, and I think the COVID of it all would have pulled so much focus. I wanted it to be escapist, and the thing I want to escape most is COVID.”