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Newhart
Newhart.jpg
Newhart opening title card
Format Sitcom
Created by Barry Kemp
Starring Bob Newhart
Mary Frann
Jennifer Holmes
Julia Duffy
Tom Poston
Steven Kampmann
Peter Scolari
William Sanderson
Tony Papenfuss
John Voldstad
Theme music composer Henry Mancini
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 184
Production
Running time 30 minutes per episode
Production company(s) MTM Enterprises
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run October 25, 1982 – May 21, 1990

Newhart is a television situation comedy starring comedian Bob Newhart and actress Mary Frann as an author and his wife who owned and operated a historic inn located in a small, rural Vermont town that was populated by eccentric characters. The show aired on the CBS network from October 25, 1982, to May 21, 1990. TV Guide, TV Land, and other media organizations named its series finale as one of the most memorable in television history.

Newhart was nominated for one Casting Society of America award, nominated 25 times for Emmy Awards for acting, writing, and editing; received six Golden Globes nominations, four nominations for TV Land Awards, and five wins of Viewers for Quality Television Awards.

Contents

Premise

Bob Newhart plays Dick Loudon, an author of do-it-yourself books. He and his wife Joanna move from New York City to a small, unnamed town in rural Vermont to operate the historic Stratford Inn. (The real-life Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, Vermont, was used for location shots.) Loudon is a sane, mild-mannered everyman surrounded by a community of oddballs in a town which exists in an illogical world run by rules that elude him.

(Note: Although the specific town in Vermont is never named in the series, some sources give it as Norwich.[1] There are numerous references in the series to the proximity of Dartmouth College, which is located in the bordering town of Hanover, New Hampshire. In Season 1, Episode 12: The Way We Thought We Were Dick mentions the Inn is 59 miles from Montpelier. Mapquest puts the driving distance between Norwich and Montpelier at 59.47 miles.

Dick later begins hosting a low-rated talk show on the town's local television station. As seasons progress, episodes focus increasingly on Dick's TV career and the quirky townsfolk, to the point where it seems the Loudons hardly ever have any guests at their inn.

The show's premise has sometimes been likened to that of the 1965–71 situation comedy Green Acres,[citation needed] though Green Acres had broader humor and used physical comedy more prominently. However, while Green Acres' protagonist Oliver Wendell Douglas fought with mounting anger and frustration against the absurdities surrounding him, Loudon sometimes accepted his lot with some bemusement.

At the beginning of the second season, Newhart was re-tooled somewhat. The first season was produced on videotape. From Season 2 forward (in keeping with the visual style of other CBS sitcoms), the show was produced on film.

As the years went by some characters were dropped and others were added.

"The Last Newhart"

(Top) Dick Loudon is hit by a golf ball. (Bottom) Dr. Robert Hartley wakes up & tells his wife about the dream he had, of living in an inn in Vermont.

The series boasts one of the most memorable series finales in television history[2], entitled "The Last Newhart." The entire town is purchased by a visiting Japanese tycoon, who plans to turn the hamlet into a huge golf course and recreation resort. The lone hold-outs are Dick and Joanna, who keep their property thanks largely to Dick's refusal to play along with what he views as the latest demented whim of the townspeople. Everyone else takes their huge payoffs, says their final good-byes while recreating a scene from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and leaves Dick and Joanna to run the Stratford Inn.

Five years pass. Dick continues to grimly run the Stratford, while golf balls constantly pelt the walls. Joanna dresses like a geisha, and the Japanese replacements for George and Stephanie are even less helpful than the originals.

The ex-townfolk — richer and odder than before — unexpectedly pay the Loudons a visit. Michael and Stephanie's daughter has grown up to be a tiny clone of her mother. George has spent the last five years continually losing and gaining twenty pounds, until he spent some time with a group of Native Americans and smoked a peace pipe (at which point he no longer cared about his weight issues). Larry, Darryl and Darryl have all married obnoxiously talkative and abrasive women from Long Island (one of whom is played by a then-unknown Lisa Kudrow). When their wives will not shut up, the Darryls yell out in unison, "QUIET!" Aside from Larry, who had always commented on how talkative they were, this moment is the only time on the show that anyone has ever heard The Darryls say a word. Everyone is stunned (even the studio audience erupted) and when Dick asks why the brothers have never spoken in public before, Larry posits that it is because 'they've never been so PO'ed before!'

Things quickly become chaotic, with the visitors cheerfully deciding on an extended stay at the inn. Dick vents his frustration at how unmanageable and stupid everything has become, but nobody is interested in Dick's opinion, so he announces that he is finally fed up and is leaving for good. As he storms out the door, Dick turns around and says, "You're all CRAZY!" Just then, he is struck by a wayward golf ball and collapses, unconscious. The screen goes black.

Then a light is turned on, and viewers see Dr. Bob Hartley in bed, saying, "Honey, you won't believe the dream I just had." Emily (Suzanne Pleshette, Hartley's wife from The Bob Newhart Show) turns on the light and rolls over to speak with him. The bedroom is a recreation from The Bob Newhart Show, and — in a parody of a 1980s television vogue — the entire Newhart series (and presumably Dick Loudon's entire existence) is revealed to have been nothing more than a dream in the mind of Bob Newhart's 1970s character. Bob tells Emily that in the dream, he lived in a weird Vermont town surrounded by strange people: a snobbish maid and her alliterative husband, a dense handyman, and three eccentric woodsmen, two of whom were mute.

When he reveals, in passing, that he was married to a beautiful blonde in the dream, an annoyed Emily attributes dream to some Japanese food he ate before bedtime and tells Bob to go back to sleep before flicking off the light on her side of the bedroom. Reviving a technique from The Bob Newhart Show, in which one of the Hartleys incredulously flicks back on a bedside light and restarts the conversation, Emily turns her light back on and inquires, "What do you mean, 'beautiful blonde'?!?" Bob tells her to go back to sleep, commenting, "You should wear more sweaters," something Joanna was noted for. The scene ends to the strains of the old Bob Newhart theme song and credits in the old Bob Newhart font style (although this was removed for syndicated reruns) and long, thunderous applause. In the MTM logo shown with the closing credits, Mimsie the Cat says what the Darryls shouted in the series finale. The scene was crafted as a satire of the 1986 episode of Dallas in which an entire season of the series was explained away as a dream.

In 1991, the cast of The Bob Newhart Show reunited in a prime-time special. One of the things they did was analyze Bob's dream. During the discussion, the Hartleys' neighbor, Howard Borden (Bill Daily), recalled, "I had a dream like that once. I dreamed I was an astronaut in Florida for five seasons", as scenes from I Dream of Jeannie featuring Daily were shown. (Jeannie ran for five years on NBC.) The building's janitors resembled Larry, Darryl and Darryl.

In his book I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! And Other Things that Strike Me as Funny, Newhart stated that his wife Ginnie proposed the classic ending of Newhart.

A letter from Mark Egan, Mark Solomon, and Bob Bendetson, the show's executive producers, said the idea was from the show's writers, specifically Dan O'Shannon, who suggested the idea the previous year.[3]

In November 2005, this episode was named by TV Guide and TV Land the most unexpected moment in TV history. The episode was watched by 29.5 million viewers.

Cast

  • Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon.
  • Mary Frann as Joanna Loudon.
  • Tom Poston as George Utley, the Stratford's somewhat dim handyman.
  • Jennifer Holmes as Leslie Vanderkellen. A fabulously rich, world-class skier, with a foundation that underwrites Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Leslie takes the job of hotel maid to find out what it is like to be normal. In the second season, she is replaced by her cousin, Stephanie.
  • Julia Duffy as Stephanie Vanderkellen. Stephanie is a spoiled rich girl cut off by her parents. She grudgingly, and often incompetently, works in Leslie's old job.
  • Steven Kampmann as Kirk Devane, a chronic liar who owns the Minuteman Café across from the inn, and holds an unrequited infatuation for Leslie. Kirk eventually marries a woman named Cindy and leaves town after two seasons.
  • William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, and John Voldstad as brothers Larry, Darryl, and Darryl. The three, whose last name is never mentioned, are backwoodsmen who live in a shack. They are seen infrequently in the first season, a bit more in the second, but at the start of season three, they become regulars and take over the Minuteman Café from Kirk Devane. The two Darryls never speak (until the final episode). Larry introduces the group the same way every time they make an appearance: "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl." Larry often makes strange claims, though some of the most outrageous things he says turn out to be true, including a statement that Johnny Carson pays their gas bills. The trio also appeared in various episodes of the television series Coach. Barry Kemp created both shows. They also appeared at the very end of The Bob Newhart Show reunion done a few years later.
  • Peter Scolari as Michael Harris. The hyperactive, manipulative producer of Dick's TV show eventually marries Stephanie. They have a daughter. Exceptionally shallow and superficial, Michael and Stephanie represent the quintessence of the 1980s "yuppie" couple. The dry erase board in Michael's apartment always lists "Take Over CBS" (the network which originally aired the series) among his ever-changing daily tasks. He often speaks in an annoyingly alliterative manner.

Other recurring characters included:

  • Rebecca York as Cindy Parker-Devane, a professional clown, Kirk's girlfriend and eventual wife
  • Todd Susman as Officer Shifflett, the over-the-top macho police chief
  • Kathy Kinney as Prudence Goddard, the prim but hot-to-trot librarian
  • William Lanteau as Chester Wanamaker, the fussbudget, small-minded mayor
  • Thomas Hill as Jim Dixon, Chester's wild-eyed friend
  • David Pressman as Mr. Rusnak, the town's racist and chauvinist shoe store owner. Nobody calls him by his first name "Art"
  • Jeff Doucette as Harley Estin, the town's habitually unemployed loser
  • José Ferrer as Arthur Vanderkellen, Stephanie's billionaire father
  • Priscilla Morrill as Marian 'Mary' Vanderkellen, Stephanie's aristocratic mother
  • Fred Applegate as J.J. Wall, the once-in-a-while director of Dick Louden's Vermont talk show
  • Julie Brown as Buffy Denver, Dick's relentlessly hyper cheerful and annoying co-host
  • Linda Carlson as Bev Dutton, the television station manager.

Guest stars

In one episode, members of the Beaver Lodge are watching Gilligan's Island on the TV. When Michael Harris throws them out, one member protests that he wants to see how it ends (notwithstanding the fact that Gilligan episodes always ended with the castaways still stuck on the island). The protester was played by Russell Johnson, who portrayed the Professor on Gilligan.

During the first season, someone named Daniel J. Travanti made a reservation at the inn over the phone. The women did not know if it was the actor or not but got dressed up just in case. When everyone thought the man wasn't coming, they went to bed for the night only to have the actor walk in a few minutes later. Kirk signed him in and no one knew until after he was gone. Two more first season guests stars were Ruth Gordon, hilarious as Kirk's ex-con grandmother, and Jerry Van Dyke, as the owner of a travel agency who, against his better judgement, hires Joanna only to have her quit on her first day.

Another notable guest star was actor Jack Riley, who had portrayed Mr. Carlin, a mean-spirited patient of psychologist Bob Hartley, Newhart's character in The Bob Newhart Show. Riley (possibly playing another character, but acting exactly the same as Mr. Carlin) has a brief encounter with Dick Loudon, who finds him strangely familiar-looking. Dick then speaks to the man's psychologist, who complains about the terrible mental damage done to Riley by "some quack in Chicago", referring to Newhart's previous character. (Riley also appeared as a patient in the psychiatric ward on an episode of St. Elsewhere. He told another patient he is there because his life was ruined by "a quack psychologist in Chicago!")

The first episode of the second season ("It Happened One Afternoon") was filmed on July 15, 1983, with Elke Sommer as the guest star; however, the version that was broadcast featured Stella Stevens in the role. The reason for the re-shoot is not known.

In one episode, Don Rickles, Newhart's good friend in real life, played a washed-up actor given a job as a talk show host at the television station Dick works at. The character Rickles played mercilessly insulted and tormented Dick, which made the show popular, so Dick was trapped at becoming the Rickles character's stooge due to Dick's contract.

Johnny Carson appears in one episode as himself, to confirm Larry's claim that Carson pays their gas bills.

Senator George McGovern and reporter/writer Edwin Newman appeared as themselves as guests on Dick's "Vermont Today" show.

Ratings

Newhart was a solid ratings winner finishing six out of eight seasons in the Nielson top 25 at its highest rating of number 12 for two consecutive seasons from 1986–1988. Despite not finishing in the top 30 for its last two seasons Bob Newhart stated in an interview with the Archive of American Television that CBS was satisfied enough with the shows ratings to renew it for a ninth season in 1990. However, Newhart, who was anxious to move onto other projects, declined the offer promising CBS that he would develop a new series for the network, which he was under contract to do. This resulted in the 1992 series Bob which lasted for two seasons.

  1. 19821983: #13[4]
  2. 19831984: #23[5]
  3. 19841985: #23[6]
  4. 19851986: #16[7]
  5. 19861987: #12[8]
  6. 19871988: #12[9]

Awards

Nominations

Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Comedy Series (1983, 1984)
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Bob Newhart (1985–1987)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Tom Poston (1984, 1986, 1987)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Peter Scolari (1987–1989)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Duffy (1984–1990)
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Eileen Brennan (1989)
  • Outstanding Writer in a Comedy Series: David Mirkin (1987, 1990)
  • Outstanding Editing for a Series (1988, 1990)
  • Outstanding Videotape Editing for a Series (1983)
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special (1986)

Despite 25 nominations, Newhart never won an Emmy Award.

Golden Globe Awards

  • Television Series – Musical or Comedy (1984)
  • Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Bob Newhart (1983–1986)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Julia Duffy (1988)

Broadcast history and ratings

Included are the Top 20 season ratings for Newhart according to 80sxchange.com.

Season Broadcast History Ratings Rank
1982–1983 Monday 9:30–10:00
1983–1984 Sunday 9:30–10:00, 8:30–9:00, 9:30–10:00, Monday 9:30–10:00
1984–1985 Monday 9:30–10:00 #13
1985–1986 Monday 9:30–10:00 #16
1986–1987 Monday 9:00–9:30 #12
1987–1988 Monday 9:00–9:30
1988–1989 Monday 8:00–8:30, 10:00–10:30
1989–1990 Monday 10:30–11:00, 10:00–10:30, 8:30–9:00, Friday 9:00–9:30, Saturday 9:00–9:30

Production

The show was produced by David Mirkin, (who also wrote nine episodes, and directed four), Bob Bendetson, Sheldon Bull, Barton Dean, Mark Egan, Stephen C. Grossman, Barry Kemp, Arnie Kogen, Michael Loman, Richard Rosenstock, Mark Solomon, Roy Teicher, Dan Wilcox, Douglas Wyman, and Shelley Zellman. In addition, well-known comedian Dick Martin was the chief director of the series for most of its run.

The opening sequence consists of b-roll from the 1981 film On Golden Pond, meaning that the scenes shown are of New Hampshire, not Vermont. Henry Mancini composed the show's theme music.

DVD release

On February 26, 2008, 20th Century Fox released Season 1 of Newhart on DVD in Region 1. Unlike The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart has had no more subsequent releases.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1 22 February 26, 2008

References

External links








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