Newhart

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This article is about the 1982–1990 television series. For the actor, see Bob Newhart. For the 1972–1978 television series, see The Bob Newhart Show.
Newhart
Newhart.png
Newhart opening title card
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
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 184 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Barry Kemp
Mark Egan
Mark Solomon
Dan Wilcox
Producer(s) Sheldon Bull
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. The first season of the show was shot on videotape before production switched to film in season two and for the remainder of the series.

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]

Regular Characters[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's like to be average." 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.
  • 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.

Larry, Darryl, and Darryl[edit]

  • 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.

Recurring characters[edit]

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
  • Jose 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, where 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 he 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.

The series finale of Newhart, entitled "The Last Newhart", has been described as one of the most memorable in television history.[3][4] The entire town is purchased by a visiting Japanese tycoon, who turns the hamlet into a huge golf course and recreation resort. Dick and Joanna are the only townspeople who refuse to leave. The others accept huge payoffs and leave in a farewell scene which parodies Fiddler on the Roof.

Five years later, Dick and Joanna continue to run the Stratford Inn, which is now located in the middle of the golf course. The other townspeople, now richer and odder than before, unexpectedly return for a reunion. The Darryl brothers also speak for the first time on screen (loudly yelling "QUIET!" in unison). Dick gets frustrated with the increasingly chaotic scene, eventually storming out shouting "You're all CRAZY!" only to be knocked out by a golf ball.

The final scene takes place in a setting previously seen on The Bob Newhart Show. Bob Newhart reprises the role of Dr. Bob Hartley, with Suzanne Pleshette returning to play Emily, Hartley's wife. Hartley wakes up and explains his weird dream, apparently revealing that the entire Newhart series was just a dream in his head. This parodies the infamous Dallas "Dream Season" from a few years earlier, (and possibly the last episode of St. Elsewhere, in which the entire series turns out to be the imagination of an autistic child). There are several references to Newhart's former show, including the use of its theme song and credits (although this was removed for syndicated reruns). In the MTM logo shown after the closing credits, Mimsie the Cat says what the Darryls shouted in the series finale.

Reception to the Finale[edit]

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] and in 2013 was ranked number 1 in Entertainment Weekly's 20 Best TV Series Finales Ever.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

On the February 11, 1995 episode of Saturday Night Live which was hosted by Bob Newhart, the episode's closing sketch ended with a redux of Newhart's final scene, in which Bob Hartley again wakes up with wife Emily, and tells her that he'd just had a dream of hosting SNL. Emily responds, "That show's not still on, is it?"[10] (SNL was heavily criticised for its quality during this period.)

A segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live! presented several parody alternate endings to the television show Lost, one of which mirrored the finale of Newhart complete with a cameo appearance by Bob Newhart and with Lost star Evangeline Lilly in place of Emily/Pleshette.[11]

The final scene with Newhart and Pleshette would later be parodied in an alternate ending to the television series Breaking Bad where actor Bryan Cranston wakes up from a dream 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.[12]

The final scene of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson parodied this as well. After revealing that Bob Newhart had been playing the on-set pantomime horse Secretariat, Ferguson began to wake up from his dream. He then wakes up as his The Drew Carey Show character Nigel Wick, in bed with his co-star Drew Carey. The two then discuss the crazy possibility of Wick being a talk show host and Carey losing weight and becoming a game show host. The final shot is of a snow globe full of elements from The Late Late Show, parodying the twist ending of St. Elsewhere. Which was then followed by the closing song of The Sopranos finale, Don't Stop Believing, complete with the sudden cut to silence and black, with credits following in silence.

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. As of August 19, 2014, they have released the second, third and fourth seasons.[13]

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
The Complete Fourth Season 24 August 19, 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. ^ http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20593459_20387623_20789048,00.html#20603553
  10. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 278. ISBN 1579583946. 
  11. ^ http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/05/24/lost-ending-jimmy-kimmel-and-the-parodies/
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Package Art Checks In for 'The Complete 4th Season' on DVD

External links[edit]