Newhart

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Newhart
Newhart.png
Newhart opening title card
Format Sitcom
Created by Barry Kemp
Developed by Sheldon Bull
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 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Enterprises
Distributor 20th Television
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run October 25, 1982 – May 21, 1990
Chronology
Preceded by The Bob Newhart Show

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

Premise[edit]

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, (most likely Norwich[1]), to operate the 200-year-old Stratford Inn.[2] Dick 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.

Near the end of the second season, Newhart was re-tooled and Dick began hosting a low-rated talk show on the town's local television station. As the series progressed, episodes focused increasingly on Dick's TV career and the quirky townsfolk, to the point where it seemed the Loudons hardly ever have any guests at their inn. As the years went by, some characters were dropped and others were added.

Cast[edit]

  • Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon.
  • Mary Frann as Joanna Loudon.
  • Tom Poston as George Utley, the Stratford's hard-working, but somewhat dim handyman.
  • Jennifer Holmes as Leslie Vanderkellen (Season 1). 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. Cheerful, industrious, and an honor student at nearby Dartmouth College, Dick describes her as "perfect". In the second season, she is replaced by her cousin, Stephanie.
  • Julia Duffy as Stephanie Vanderkellen. Seen in one first-season episode as Leslie's visiting cousin, Stephanie is a spoiled rich girl cut off by her parents at the beginning of season 2. Vain, shallow and completely unqualified for any sort of work, she grudgingly, and often incompetently, works in Leslie's old job.
  • Steven Kampmann as Kirk Devane (Seasons 1-2). 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 the final two episodes of the television series Coach (a series also created by Barry Kemp). They also appeared at the very end of The Bob Newhart Show reunion taped a few years later.
  • Peter Scolari as Michael Harris (Seasons 2-8). The hyperactive, manipulative producer of Dick's TV show who eventually marries Stephanie; the couple later has 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 otherwise ever-changing daily tasks. He often speaks in an annoyingly alliterative manner.

Other recurring characters included:

  • Rebecca York as Cindy Parker-Devane (Season 2) A professional clown, Kirk's girlfriend and eventual wife
  • Todd Susman as Officer Shifflett (Seasons 3-8) The diminutive, but over-the-top macho police chief
  • Kathy Kinney as Prudence Goddard, the prim but hot-to-trot librarian
  • William Lanteau as Chester Wanamaker, the friendly, fussbudget, small-minded mayor
  • Thomas Hill as Jim Dixon, Chester's wild-eyed, loud-voiced 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 (Seasons 2-6) 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 Loudon'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[edit]

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, 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. Rue McClanahan also made a guest appearance as one of George's (Tom Poston) old flames in the first season, when they realize that they have each changed too much to be together.

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 where Dick works. Rickles' character mercilessly insulted and tormented Dick, which made the show popular, and Dick was contractually trapped as the Rickles character's stooge.

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.

"The Last Newhart"[edit]

(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.

Newhart boasts one of the most memorable series finales in television history,[3][4] 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, say their final good-byes while recreating a scene from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, and leave 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-townsfolk – richer and odder than before – unexpectedly pay the Loudons a visit. Michael and Stephanie moved to Zurich and their 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 went to Arizona, spent some time with a group of Navajos 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 erupts) and when Dick asks why the brothers have never spoken in public until then, Larry posits that it is because 'they've never been this 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!" Dick opens the front door of the Inn, as if to leave. He is struck in the head by a wayward golf ball and collapses in the doorway, unconscious.

The scene fades out.

Then a light is turned on. Viewers see Bob Newhart reprising the role of Dr. Bob Hartley (Newhart's character from The Bob Newhart Show) clad in pajamas, while sitting up in bed. The master bedroom is a duplicate of the room set seen on The Bob Newhart Show.

Dr. Hartley says, "Honey, you won't believe the dream I just had." His wife turns on the light and rolls over to speak with him. It becomes clear that she is not Joanna, but the dark-haired Emily (Suzanne Pleshette, Hartley's wife from The Bob Newhart Show). Many in the studio audience (and millions of television viewers) realized with a shock that the entire Newhart series (and presumably Dick Loudon's entire existence) had just been revealed to have been nothing more than Bob Hartley's dream.

Bob tells Emily that in that dream, he lived in a weird Vermont town surrounded by strange people: an heiress maid, her alliterative husband, a dense handyman, and three eccentric woodsmen, two of whom were mute.

Emily is not interested in hearing any more about Bob's dream and admonishes him, "No more Japanese food before you go to bed." Wanting to go back to sleep, she rolls over and turns out the light. Bob tells her as she is settling down to go to sleep that he was married to a beautiful blonde in the dream.

There is a pause. All is quiet and dark.

Then, mimicking a technique from The Bob Newhart Show, in which one of the Hartleys flicks back on a bedside light and continues the conversation, Emily turns her bedside lamp on again, slides over and looks down at Bob: "What do you mean, 'beautiful blonde'?!?" Bob replies, "Go to sleep, Emily." Then, after a moment's pause, he adds, "You know, uh, you know, you really ought to wear more sweaters." The character Joanna was noted for frequently wearing sweaters throughout the run of Newhart.

The final scene shows 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 after the closing credits, Mimsie the Cat says what the Darryls shouted in the series finale.

Interviews with Newhart, Pleshette and director Dick Martin[5] reveal that the final scene was kept a secret from the cast and most of the crew. A fake ending was written up to throw off the tabloids that involved Bob going up to heaven after being hit with a golf ball and talking to God played by George Burns or George C. Scott. Pleshette was kept hidden until her scene was shot. When the scene began, many people in the audience recognized the set as the bedroom from "The Bob Newhart Show" and burst into spontaneous applause. Pleshette and Newhart did the scene in one take.[5]

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), quipped, "I had a dream like that once. I dreamed I was an astronaut in Florida for five seasons", while scenes from I Dream of Jeannie, which featured Daily in all five seasons it was on the air, were shown. At the end of the reunion special Dr. Bob Hartley gets on the elevator only to see three familiar looking workmen doing repairs in the elevator and one of them says to Bob, "Hi. I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother 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.[page needed] He reiterated this in a 2013 interview with director and comedian David Steinberg, saying,

That was Ginnie's idea. ... She said, 'You ought to end in a dream sequence because there was so much inexplicable about the show.' She said, 'You should wake up in bed with Susie and explain what's so—" and I said, 'What a great idea,' and I gave the idea to the writers and they fleshed it out with the Japanese buying the town and our not selling."[6]

In a letter-to-the-editor published in Entertainment Weekly, the show's executive producers, Mark Egan, Mark Solomon, and Bob Bendetson, who said, "[T]he final episode of Newhart was not 'dreamed up' by Bob's wife, Ginny. She had absolutely no connection with the show. ... We wrote and produced the Emmy-nominated script (with special thanks to Dan O'Shannon)."[7]

In November 2005, the series finale was named by TV Guide and TV Land the most unexpected moment in TV history.[citation needed] The episode was watched by 29.5 million viewers, bringing in an 18.7/29 rating/share, and ranking as the most watched program that week.

In 2011, the finale was ranked No. 4 on the TV Guide Network special, TV's Most Unforgettable Finales.[8]

This scene would later be parodied in an alternate ending to the television series Breaking Bad where actor Bryan Cranston wakes up from a dream right next to his Malcolm in the Middle co-star Jane Kaczmarek where they assume their respective roles of Hal and Lois. Hal recounts the events of Breaking Bad in humorous fashion as though he himself is horrified that he could do those things (albeit as Walter White). Lois reassures him that everything is all right and the final shot is of Walter's hat.[9]

Reception[edit]

U.S. television ratings[edit]

Newhart was a solid ratings winner finishing six out of eight seasons in the Nielsen top 25 at its highest rating of number 12 for two consecutive seasons from 1986 to 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 show's 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.

Newhart season rankings in the U.S. television market
Season Episodes Original air dates TV season Nielsen ratings
Season premiere Season finale Rank Rating Households[1] / Viewers[2] (in millions)
1 22 October 25, 1982 April 10, 1983 1982–1983 #12 20.0 16.66
2 22 October 17, 1983 April 16, 1984 1983–1984 #23 18.0 15.08
3 22 October 15, 1984 May 28, 1985 1984–1985 #16 18.4 N/A
4 24 September 30, 1985 May 12, 1986 1985–1986 19.6 16.84
5 24 September 29, 1986 April 13, 1987 1986–1987 #12 19.5 17.04
6 24 September 14, 1987 April 9, 1988 1987–1988 #25 16.5 N/A
7 22 October 24, 1988 May 22, 1989 1988–1989 N/A
8 24 September 18, 1989 May 21, 1990 1989–1990 #48 13.1 19.34
1.^ 1982-1987.
2.^ 1989-1990.

Awards[edit]

Nominations[edit]

Emmy Awards

1983
  • Outstanding Comedy Series - Sheldon Bull, Producer; Barry Kemp, Executive Producer
  • Outstanding Video Tape Editing For a Series - Andy Ackerman
1984
  • Outstanding Comedy Series - Sheldon Bull, Producer; Barry Kemp, Executive Producer
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Tom Poston
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
1985
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Bob Newhart
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
1986
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Bob Newhart
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing For a Comedy Series or Special - Andrew MacDonald, Sound Mixer; Bill Nicholson, Sound Mixer; Craig Porter, Sound Mixer; Richard Wachter, Sound Mixer
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Tom Poston
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
1987
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Bob Newhart
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
    • Tom Poston
    • Peter Scolari
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
  • Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series - David Mirkin ("Co-Hostess Twinkie")
1988
  • Outstanding Editing For a Series (Multi-Camera Production) - Michael Wilcox, Editor
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Peter Scolari
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
1989
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series - Eileen Brennan
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Peter Scolari
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
1990
  • Outstanding Editing For a Series (Multi-Camera Production) - Michael Wilcox, Editor
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Duffy
  • Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series - Bob Bendetson, Mark Egan and Mark Solomon ("The Last Newhart")

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)

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

DVD releases[edit]

20th Century Fox released season one of Newhart on DVD in Region 1 in February 2008.

In November 2013, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series and would release season two on February 11, 2014.[10] Season 3 will be released on April 22, 2014.[11]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 22 February 26, 2008
The Complete Second Season 22 February 11, 2014
The Complete Third Season 22 April 22, 2014

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.tvacres.com/cities_norwich.htm
  2. ^ The Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, Vermont, was used for location shots. There are numerous references in the series to the proximity of Dartmouth College, which is located in Hanover, New Hampshire. In "The Way We Thought We Were" (Season 1, Episode 12), Dick mentions the Inn is 59 miles from Montpelier, which could put it in Norwich, Vermont, across the Connecticut River from the College.
  3. ^ 100 most memorable TV moments
  4. ^ Karol, Michael (July 2006). Sitcom Queens: Divas of the Small Screen. iUniverse. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-595-40251-9. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/newhart-the-last-newhart Emmy TV Legends" "The Last Newhart"
  6. ^ "Bob Newhart and Louis C.K.". Inside Comedy. Season 2. Episode 1. 16 February 2013. Showtime.
  7. ^ "Mail Page". Entertainment Weekly (ew.com). June 2, 1995. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2009. 
  8. ^ "TV's Most Unforgettable Finales". May 22, 2011. TV Guide Network.
  9. ^ Chris Harnick url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/17/breaking-bad-alternate-ending-jane-kaczmarek_n_4291566.html (2013-11-18). "Breaking Bad' Reveals Wonderful Alternate Ending With 'Malcolm In The Middle,' Jane Kaczmarek". Huffington Post. 
  10. ^ Lambert, Dave (November 5, 2013). "Shout! Factory Picks Up the Rights; Schedules 'Season 2' DVDs!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  11. ^ Shout! Confirms 'The Complete 3rd Season'; Gives DVD Cover Art

External links[edit]