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I spent WAY too many hours glued to the TV as a youngster during the
Many of the shows I thought were absolutely perfect in 1972 or 1975, I
trouble sitting through for 10 minutes today. Some, however, have stood
test of time.
I would have to say that The Bob Newhart Show, more than any other show, has grown in my estimation as I have matured. I enjoyed it as a kid, but love it all the much more now.
Mr. Newhart, simply put, was and is a comedic genius. One blank look from him can surpass a 15-minute monologue by many comedians, for laugh production. In the right setting, with the right handling, Bob Newhart was one of the funniest ever. Fortunately for us, that perfect setting came together in the 1972-78 Bob Newhart Show. This show had impeccable writing by Charlotte Brown, Dick Clair and others, great directing by Peter Baldwin and many others, as well as wonderful acting.
One might have doubted that the struggles of a psychologist and his patients would make good fodder for comedy. Wrong! Who can forget the obnoxious Elliot Carlton (Jack Riley), the sharp knitting needles of Mrs. Bakerman (Florida Friebus, a.k.a., Dobie Gillis' mom), and wimpy Mr. Peterson (John Fielding, also in `12 Angry Men')? Who can forget the elevator and its frequent involvement in scenes, or Bernie Tupperman (Larry Gelman), the pudgy urinologist, or the periodic visits from `The Peeper' (Tom Poston)? And these, of course, were NOT part of the main supporting cast.
Suzanne Pleshette was perfect as Bob's lovely and usually supportive wife, Emily. Marcia Wallace became a household name as Carol, the perky secretary. Peter Borenz and Bill Daily, meanwhile, were absolutely delightful as Bob's two best friends, dentist Jerry Robinson and navigator Howard Borden. Daily, who was also great in `I Dream of Jeannie,' provided one of the most hilarious characters in sit-com history, as the clueless neighbor, Howard.
The cast of The Bob Newhart Show was so good and so deep that I have to make one confession. While I love Bob Newhart himself, I believe my favorite episode was one in which he had only a cameo appearance, phoning home from a convention somewhere. Carol, Jerry and Howard became convinced that an old flame visiting Emily while Bob was gone, spelled trouble. They spied on the two in a restaurant and the scene was possibly the most hilarious in the show's run, as Jerry wore a ridiculous fake glasses/nose combo and Howard could never seem to recognize him.
The Bob Newhart Show was a high-water mark for intelligent, sophisticated humor - although occasional forays into slapstick gave it an even more satisfying balance. Overall, I would call it one of the top three or four comedies ever made.
A masterpiece of understated adult humor, epitomized by its low-key
star, Bob Newhart, who could get big laughs reading from the phone book
with his trademark stammers and pauses.
Supporting cast was remarkable, each playing to his or her strengths, gliding smoothly along the tracks laid down by the expert writing staff. Standouts? Everybody was a standout. Peter Bonerz as Jerry, the libidinous orphaned dentist. Bill Daily as the addled Howard Borden, airline navigator, bumbling divorced dad, and meal moocher. Marcia Wallace as Carol, confident, razor-tongued receptionist extraordinaire. Jack Riley as Mr. Carlin, the funniest self-centered jerk of the modern sitcom era. And Suzanne Pleshette as Emily, Bob's gorgeous, sensible wife.
The trick to the show's humor was that it seemed to rise naturally from these characters who, though colorful, also resembled real people. Nobody had to push too hard for a laugh.
Almost three decades later I still haven't seen another TV comedy series that possessed this one's unique tone of humor, an almost indescribable mix of the usual satire and sarcasm and poking fun at our modern life and lifestyles, balanced perfectly against warm-hearted affirmation of the bonds of friendship and affection that make life bearable. And funny.
This was part of the great CBS Saturday night line-up which included "Mary Tyler Moore", "All in the Family". Bob Newhart's deadpan reactions to all the craziness that was going on around him was what helped to make this show special. Its surprising how it never received an Emmy, or for that matter a nomination. Maybe it was because it was part of such a legendary prime time line-up that it got lost in the shuffle. Also, maybe it was due to the fact that it had such a strong ensemble that no one particular member of the cast stood out. Besides Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Bonnerz, Marcia Wallace and Bill Daily all made this show what it was, but the funniest character on the show had to be Elliot Carlin. He definitely was one of the most acerbic characters ever created for television. This still is one of the classic situation comedies of its era and it was very much more of an intellectual show.
For the six years that "The Bob Newhart Show" originally ran on
from September of 1972 to April of 1978,the series never received the
attention and acclaim it so clearly deserved(not one Emmy nomination from
either Bob Newhart or the rest of the cast which includes Suzanne Pleshette,
Marcia Wallace,Peter Bonerz,Bill Daily,and to even mention the recognition
from some of the great writing and direction that this show truly
deserved)after an astounding 142 episodes. After the sixth and final
season,Bob Newhart decided to call it quits.
He told TV Guide that the show was "still doing well enough.But I got very disturbed about the trends in TV....the kiddie audience seemed to be taking over the tube....I felt my type of low-key comedy-aimed an intelligent adults-was finished. So I just told MTM and CBS I wasn't coming back for the seventh season. We were not canceled. I left on my own."
However,the show wasn't canceled by the network. Amazingly,the series was still in the top ten of the Nielsen ratings and was in the top five spot along with some tough competition of its day including some of the greatest shows of the decade(and this was toward the end of the 1970's) were still going strong including "M*A*S*H","One Day At A Time","Alice", "All In The Family","The Jeffersons","Three's Company","Happy Days",and not to mention "The Carol Burnett Show" which was also still in the top ten as well during its final season. When "The Bob Newhart Show" stopped production in April of 1978,the series and its wonderful cast of characters did not disappear from television. Instead they've taken on a second life,replete with character development and some very funny classic moments. In case some may not remember this series,about the misadventures of a Chicago psychiarist(Dr. Robert Hartley,played by Bob Newhart) who lives in a upscale Lakeshore apartment complex with his lovely wife Emily(played by Suzanne Pleshette)and their next door neighbor Howard Borden(played by Bill Daily)and a host of misunderstood characters that Bob deals with within the office complex where he works and at home. The laughs may have been okay in parts,but still it is a television classic.
ABOUT THE CAST:LIFE AFTER THE BOB NEWHART SHOW In the fall of 1982,Bob Newhart's second-longest running sitcom called "Newhart" was also a top ten hit with CBS-TV for the eight seasons that it was on the air(1982-1990).The new sitcom was set at the Stratford Inn in rural Vermont. He played innkeeper Dick Louden,who was also a how-to author and a talk show host where he kept humble residence with his beloved wife Joanna(played by Mary Frann),his handyman George Utley(Tom Poston)and a host of misunderstood characters and some of them were stranger than life. Who remembers the three woodsman,Larry,Darryl and Darryl? The series final episode in May of 1990 is vintage classic TV where most of the original cast of "The Bob Newhart Show" from the 1970's reappears in segments which included his other TV wife(Suzanne Pleshette). However,Bob Newhart made one more successful series as well which included the short-lived series intitled "Bob",which was also on CBS-TV(1993-1994)and it starred Betty White and Tom Poston. As for the the others including Marcia Wallace,Bill Daily,Peter Bonerz,and Suzanne Pleshette? They're still around especially with Peter Bonerz and Suzanne Pleshette who are now working behind the camera and are producing and directing several feature films made for television and also in theatrical films as well. Marcia Wallace made several appearances in TV shows including "Taxi","Murphy Brown","Will and Grace",and others. while fellow BNS actor Bill Daily is doing the club circuit these days and is frequently on the talk show range with Jay Leno,Conan O'Brien and David Letterman and is set to star in the theatrical version of the 1960's Barbara Eden TV classic "I Dream Of Jeannie".
I loved this show as a kid (I was 10 in 1975)... it was a show that actually made sense to me (yeah, yeah, I watched all the other 70's shows too...). It was adult without being sexy (I hated that in TV shows... nothing's grosser than Marion & Howard getting "frisky")-- the characters were wry, the situations were plausibly ridiculous (?!?!?), and the writing was intelligent. I knew, even then, that there was a difference between intelligent humor and (gawd help us) pratfall humor (think: Jack Ritter), and what I preferred. I also dug that I "got" it, and that Bob was a nebbishy kind of guy, who stumbled along through life, really making it on his wits (certainly wasn't his good looks). Gave a geeky girl a certain hope for her future.
Not cutting edge like "All in the Family," and lacking the social
relevance of Mary Tyler Moore's single woman who was gonna make it
after all in a man's world, "The Bob Newhart Show," which shared the
CBS Saturday night lineup with those shows in the 70s, nonetheless had
the strongest legs. While Archie Bunker fumbled once daughter Gloria
and "Meathead" moved out, leaving him without a regular nemesis, "The
Bob Newhart Show" delivered first rate comedy as dependably in its last
season as it did in its first.
Newhart was a more mature Seinfeld in that most of the madness was provided by the supporting cast, and a terrific one it was too: Suzanne Pleshette, sassy and sexy as Bob's earthy wife, Emily; Peter Bonerz as the dentist and sarcastic ladies man, Jerry Robinson; and Bill Daley as perpetually befuddled pilot Howard Borden. Then there was Marcia Wallace as snippy receptionist Carole, the wonderful John Fiedler as mousy Mr. Peterson, and Jack Riley as the truly deranged Mr. Carlin. All had their moments of brilliance, but it was Newhart, with his low-key genius, who held the show together and made it work. A comedy classic.
Bob Newhart and MTM put together a winning formula when they debuted
the Bob Newhart Show in the Fall of 72. This was Deadpan comedy on the
part of Newhart at it's best. Psychologist, Dr. Bob Hartley, deals with
the day to day problems of his zany and quite real patient's. Jack
Riley's, Elliot Carlin being one of the most notable of the group, with
his bizarre problems and abrasive attitude towards other group members,
especially the wishy-washy Mr. Peterson.
Bob's life outside his group was a bit less zany but just as interesting and funny. His relationship between his wife Emily, played by the sultry Susan Pleshette, was a very real relationship. Newhart and Pleshette complimented each other quite well.
I think everyone loved his wise cracking secretary, Carol, and the bumbling antics of his neighbor, Howard Borden.
One of those rare shows where everything came together--cast,
characters, writers, stories.
Bill Daily kept me in stitches. One episode he bought a stand-up bass--the Hartleys were going nuts from his practicing, which consisted entirely of Howard strumming the same string over and over. Best line: Bob: I feel like I'm living inside a heart. Best joke of all--Howard was a navigator. Thank heavens he wasn't a pilot.
Or the night when Jerry and Bob and Howard drove to a cheap motel in Illinois to watch a Bears game that was blacked out in Chicago. Probably the best drunk scenes ever.
And the bedroom dialogues with Emily and Bob. Particularly the night Bob was eating cereal, and Emily noticed that he chewed each mouthful exactly 47 times. (I forget the exact number.) What an actress--she made you believe that Bob was a hunk. As I recall, when the show began, Suzanne Pleshette was known mainly for cheapo movies of the week and insipid Disney comedies. Hats off to the genius who thought of casting her.
Gotta love it.
Bob Newhart is ans was one of the all time highlights to ever be on TV.
This show is classic TV. His straight faced humor had a funny innocence
about him and was always classy ans he has a great wit and every day
life. I can still see him taking the roof down with his timing and
answer's. He also always had great co-stars in Suzanne,Marcia and Bill
and the funny guy who was his most recent patient and later did adds
for a non butter product. I look forward to receiving the new DVD set
in the mail. I hope they decide to also put into DVD his 1980s show
which was my favorite comedy of its day too. The one in the Vermont Inn
with Larry ,Larry and Darryl and of course the beautiful late Ms.Fran
who played his wife. Also Peter Scolari and Miss Duffy were excellent
along with Miguel Herrea as Stepahine's Father.
God Bless Bob Newhart, I can remember coming in from playing Basketball to watch him on Saturday Nights. His pal the airplane pilot was always funny too. I still love the piano of the Theme Song. Great times in my life.
The Bob Newhart Show has been my favorite comedy ever since it first aired in the 1970's. I have probably seen every episode at least 3 times and this show never fails to make me laugh. More than that, it is comfort television at its best! I always feel better after watching "Bob". When I was in high school I suffered from generalized anxiety disorder and the only time I was able to stop worrying was each weeknight at 9:00PM during reruns of "The Bob Newhart Show". This show so throughly brought me into the wacky world of Bob and Emily Hartley that for those 30 minutes I was able to forget my worries. Even now, I still find "The Bob Newhart Show" to be an excellent cure for the blues or a bad day. I'm still waiting for this best of comedies to be brought out on DVD season by season!!
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