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 (title card).png
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 24 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Enterprises
Distributor 20th Television
Release
Original network CBS
Original release October 25, 1982 – May 21, 1990
Chronology
Preceded by The Bob Newhart Show
Followed by Bob

Newhart is an American sitcom that aired on CBS from October 25, 1982 to May 21, 1990, with a total of 184 half-hour episodes spanning over eight seasons. The series stars comedian Bob Newhart and actress Mary Frann as an author and wife who own and operate an inn located in a small, rural Vermont town that is home to many eccentric characters. TV Guide, TV Land, and A&E named the Newhart series finale as one of the most memorable in television history. Newhart was recorded on videotape for Season 1, with the remaining seasons shot on film. The theme music for Newhart was composed by Henry Mancini.

Premise[edit]

Bob Newhart plays Dick Loudon, an author of do-it-yourself books and travel books (including "Many Moods Of Minnesota" and "Captivating Kansas".) He and his wife Joanna move from New York City to a small, unnamed town in rural Vermont (possibly Norwich[1]) to operate the 200-year-old Stratford Inn.[2][better source needed] Dick is a sane, mild-mannered everyman surrounded by a community of oddballs in a town which exists in an illogical world governed by rules that elude him.

Near the end of the second season, Newhart was retooled 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. As the years went by, some characters were dropped and others were added.

Cast[edit]

Actor Character Notes Seasons
Main Characters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Bob Newhart Dick Loudon Owner of The Stratford Main
Mary Frann Joanna Loudon Dick's wife Main
Tom Poston George Utley Handyman at The Stratford Main
Jennifer Holmes Leslie Vanderkellen Maid at The Stratford Main
Steven Kampmann Kirk Devane Owner of the Minuteman Café Main
William Sanderson Larry Backwoodsmen who live in the same town. The three take over the Minuteman Café following Kirk's departure. The two Darryls never speak until the final episode. Recurring Main
Tony Papenfuss Darryl
John Voldstad Darryl
Julia Duffy Stephanie Vanderkellen Maid at The Stratford, Leslie's cousin Main
Peter Scolari Michael Harris Producer of Dick's television show, married to Stephanie Recurring Main
Other Characters
Rebecca York Cindy Parker-Devane Professional clown, Kirk's girlfriend and eventual wife Recurring
Todd Susman Officer Shifflett Town chief of police Recurring
Kathy Kinney Prudence Goddard Town librarian Recurring
William Lanteau Chester Wanamaker Town mayor Recurring
Fred Applegate J.J. Wall Director of Dick's television show Recurring
Julie Brown Buffy Denver Co-host of Dick's television show Recurring
Linda Carlson Bev Dutton Television station manager Recurring
Melanie Chartoff Dr. Mary Kaiser Stephanie and Michael's therapist Recurring

"The Last Newhart"[edit]

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

The series finale of Newhart, titled "The Last Newhart", has been described as one of the most memorable in television history.[3][dead link][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 older than before, unexpectedly return for a reunion. The Darryl brothers also speak for the first time on screen loudly yelling "QUIET!" at their wives 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 reprising the role of Emily, Hartley's wife. Hartley wakes and explains his weird dream, apparently revealing that the entire Newhart series was just a dream. 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. Several references are made to Newhart's former show, including the use of its theme song and credits although the Bob Newhart Show theme was missing from the final closing credit shot in the series' initial syndication run, the theme has been reinstated in the current version syndicated by 20th Century Fox Television.

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 to throw off the tabloids that involved Dick Loudon going 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 primetime 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 were shown from I Dream of Jeannie, which featured Daily in all five seasons. At the end of the reunion special, Dr. Bob Hartley gets on the elevator only to see three familiar 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, wrote, "[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 as 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 number four 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 with his wife Emily (special guest Suzanne Pleshette) and tells her that he had just had a dream of hosting Saturday Night Live. Emily responds, "Saturday Night Live, is that show still on?"—this during a period when SNL was heavily criticized for its declining quality.[10][11]

In 2010, 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.[12]

The final scene with Newhart and Pleshette was later parodied in an alternate ending to the television series Breaking Bad where actor Bryan Cranston wakes 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 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.[13]

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 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 shot continued with a parody of the twist ending of St. Elsewhere and then the closing song from The Sopranos finale.)

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 #50 12.8
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[edit]

Despite 25 nominations, Newhart never won an Emmy Award.

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")

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Newhart earned a total of six nominations for 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)

Other awards[edit]

Newhart was nominated for one Casting Society of America award and four nominations for TV Land Awards. Newhart won a total 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 December 15, 2016, they have released the second through seventh seasons.[14][15] The eighth season is scheduled for release on March 14, 2017.[16]

DVD Name Ep No 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
The Complete Fifth Season 24 May 10, 2016
The Complete Sixth Season 24 September 13, 2016
The Complete Seventh Season 22 December 13, 2016
The Complete Eighth Season 24 March 14, 2017

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TV ACRES: Real Estate > Cities and Towns > Norwich, Vermont (Newhart)". tvacres.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  2. ^ The Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, Vermont, was used for location shots. Numerous references in the series are made to the proximity of Dartmouth College, which is located in Hanover, New Hampshire. In "The Way We Thought We Were" (season one, 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". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  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 "Newhart: The Last Newhart". Archive of American Television. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  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. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's EW.com". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  10. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 278. ISBN 1579583946. 
  11. ^ Smith, Chris (1995-03-13). "Comedy Isn't Funny: Saturday Night Live at twenty – how the show that transformed TV became a grim joke". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  12. ^ WSJ Staff. "'Lost' Ending: Jimmy Kimmel and the Parodies". WSJ. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  13. ^ Chris Harnick (2013-11-18). "Breaking Bad' Reveals Wonderful Alternate Ending With 'Malcolm In The Middle,' Jane Kaczmarek". Huffington Post. 
  14. ^ "Newheart: Season Six". Shout! Factory. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Newheart: Season Seven". TVShowsOnDVD. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Newhart DVD News: Announcement for The Complete 8th and Final Season". TVShowsOnDVD. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 

External links[edit]