The Bob Newhart Show (1972)
Synopsis of TV Show
Prime time television had presented a non-stop parade of freaks, neurotics and weirdos over the past 50 years, but perhaps none as oddly sympathetic as the cast of The Bob Newhart Show. Psychologist Bob Hartley spent a good part of his day listening to the most whacked-out denizens of Chicago, and since we got to peek in on the sessions, we somehow ended up liking this misfit band of patients. We loved Bob too, of course, and more stable citizens like Emily and Carol, but face facts: without the loonies, Bob’s low-key comedy wouldn’t have been half as much fun.
1972’s The Bob Newhart Show was actually the second show of that title. The first had been a short-lived 1961 variety show, but this was a totally different animal. Produced by the same folks responsible for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and airing right after that program on CBS’ Saturday night schedule), the new Bob Newhart Show was another sitcom about a white-collar professional, this time a mumbly, somewhat passive psychologist. Bob Hartley was a good listener, and the people around him certainly had plenty to say.
Bob’s wife Emily was a third grade schoolteacher, and one of the few calm spots in Bob’s stormy life. Living in the same Chicago high-rise as the Hartleys was airplane navigator Howard Borden, a divorced man with one son and a knack for barging in on the Hartley home uninvited. Howard wasn’t an official patient of Bob’s, but as dependent as he was on Bob and Emily’s food and advice, he might as well have been.
At work, Bob shared office space with Dr. Jerry Robinson, an orthodontist and an incurable womanizer. The two also shared a receptionist, Carol Kester, a no-guff-taking single woman who often found herself on the wrong end of Emily’s blind date set-ups. And then there were the patients…
The most notorious of the lot was Elliot Carlin, a wealthy wreck of a man who managed to exude nearly every neurosis imaginable, snide and self-doubting at the same time. Among the other regulars in Bob’s office were kindly Mrs. Bakerman, henpecked hubby Mr. Peterson, timid Michelle Nardo, and mean fruit salesman Mr. Gianelli. Since Bob preferred to work in group therapy sessions (everything from all-woman to all-doctor to all-overweight), the regulars got plenty of time to work on each other’s problems, though nobody ever seemed to be cured.
But just because the patients themselves didn’t seem to change much (though, we should point out, Mr. Gianelli stopped being mean after he was crushed to death by a load of zucchini), that doesn’t mean nothing exciting ever happened in the Hartley world. Emily ended up with a surprise promotion to vice-principal, Howard nearly married Bob’s little sister Ellen, Carol did marry travel agent Larry Bondurant after a whirlwind 12-hour romance, and then there was the infamous “moo goo gai pan” incident, in which a drunken Bob, Elliot, Jerry and Howard ended up ordering 12 quarts of the Chinese dish.
Through it all, Bob got by with a well-timed comment, an understated glance or a low-key smile. Bob Newhart’s comic style fit his character perfectly, and the rich supporting cast took care of the rest. The result was a sitcom classic, running for six years in prime time and staying fresh and funny for many more. Bob Newhart continued to score with further self-titled sitcoms, but the wide world of weirdos surrounding him on The Bob Newhart Show helped make this show one of the all-time greats.
Release History of Prime Time Show9/16/72 - 9/2/78 CBS
TV Sub Categoriescomedy
Television StudioMTM Enterprises Inc.
TV CastDr. Robert (Bob) Hartley Bob Newhart
Emily Hartley Suzanne Pleshette
Howard Borden Bill Daily
Dr. Jerry Robinson Peter Bonerz
Carol Kester Bondurant Marcia Wallace
Margaret Hoover (1972-73) Patricia Smith
Dr. Bernie Tupperman (1972-76) Larry Gelman
Pat Finley . Ellen Hartley (1974-1976)
Larry Bondeurant (1975-77) Will Mackenzie
Elliot Carlin Jack Riley
Mrs. Lillian Bakerman Florida Friebus
Miss Larson (1972-73) Penny Marshall
Michelle Nardo (1973-76) Renee Lippin
Mr. Emil Peterson . John Fiedler
Mr. Victor Gianelli (1972-73) Noam Pitlik
Mr. Vickers (1974-75) Lucien Scott
Mr. Ed Herd (1976-77) Oliver Clark