Peyton Elizabeth Lee is back and Disney+ is a better place for it.
After starring on Disney Channel’s Andi Mack, Peyton Elizabeth Lee now heads the cast for a brand new show on Disney+ – Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. It’s tempting to call it a “reboot” but it’s not, nor is it a continuation of the original show. Instead, the show pays homage to the original in the first episode by explaining that Lahela’s nickname is “Doogie” based on the similarities she shares with “that show from the 90’s.” But that’s not the only way it pays homage to the original. It opens the same way with Doogie stopping in the middle of her driving test to save someone’s life on the side of the road. She has a parent who is a doctor and her best friend likes to climb through her window. And instead of writing a journal, she has an online YouTube account where she shares her life with the public.
But the show is different. Not just because in this version Doogie is a female character, but the show celebrates diversity in a variety of ways. Doogie’s family is blended, her colleagues are of varying ethnicity, her mom (not her dad) is the doctor in the house (the dad runs a shave ice truck – SHAVE ICE NOT shaved ice which are very different), and the setting is in Hawaii where they talk about eating Spam Musubi (yes!). It is refreshing to see actors of color getting the chance to headline shows and especially nice to see Peyton Elizabeth Lee in the title role. She is such a talented actress and captures the angst and difficulties of being both a professional doctor AND a growing teen with a crush at the same time. Peyton Elizabeth has also grown as an actress. She isn’t just the sweet kid we saw on Andi Mack but instead a young woman with more depth and complexity than before.
The cast they’ve built around her is also solid with Jason Scott Lee playing her dad Benny and Kathleen Rose Perkins playing her mom Dr. Clara Hannon (another progressive touch to the show – Dr. Hannon doesn’t share a last name with her husband). Makes me wonder though if Kathleen will still be around on her other Disney+ show Big Shot for it’s second season. It would be a loss for that cast even as her character was starting to grow on me. The doctors at the hospital are also interesting characters sure to add depth to Doogie. And special guest star Barry Bostwick was perfect for his role as Will, a special patient to Doogie and the only one she’s allowed to call her that.
Like a lot of shows recently on Disney+, this one uses a tried and true formula. Base your show on a beloved favorite of the past, then make it even better. I loved how they adapted Mighty Ducks Game Changers and can’t wait to see what they continue to do with Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.!