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The Bob Newhart Show is the name of two different television series, both starring comedian Bob Newhart. The better-known is a situation comedy produced by MTM Enterprises, which aired on CBS from September 16, to April 1, . Newhart portrayed a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers.

The other Bob Newhart Show was an NBC variety show which aired during the 1961–1962 season (see below).


The popular CBS series starred Newhart as Robert Hartley, Ph.D., a Chicagomarker psychologist. The show divided most of its action between the character's home life and work, with Suzanne Pleshette as Hartley's supportive (though occasionally sarcastic) wife Emily, and Bill Daily as their friendly but inept neighbor, airline navigator Howard Borden. At the medical office where Hartley had his psychology practice, Peter Bonerz appeared as Jerry Robinson, D.D.S., an orthodontist who shared the office suite, and Marcia Wallace portrayed their joke-loving receptionist, Carol Kester (later Kester-Bondurant).

Two of Hartley's more memorable regular patients were the mean-spirited and neurotic Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley) and the milquetoast Marine veteran Emil Peterson (John Fiedler). (Carlin was ranked 49th in TV Guide's List of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time, and Riley reprised the character in guest appearances on both St. Elsewhere and Newhart.)

Most of the situations involved Newhart's character playing straight man to his wife, colleagues, friends and patients, an extension of Newhart's stand-up comedy routines, where Newhart would play one side of a telephone conversation, the other side of which was not heard. Emily routinely acted as straight man to dimwitted Howard and, on occasion to Bob.

Opening credits

The original opening of the show begins with a ringing telephone on Bob's office desk, which he answers with a simple, "Hello?" This is a reference to Newhart's stand-up comedy act, which often featured him carrying on a phone conversation with an unheard party on the other end. A piano riff then introduces a jazzy, trumpet-heavy tune, as numerous brief shots document Bob's journey home from work, ending with a shot of Emily greeting Bob at their aparment. As is often the case with location filming, Bob's commute journey was geographically inconsistent. For example, he leaves his office building by heading west toward Michigan Avenuemarker, only to then be seen from below walking east from Michigan Avenue, before strolling south over the Michigan Avenue bridge.

In the 1990s, Nick at Nite parodied this opening by adding lyrics to it. The lyrics consisted solely of the words "Bob Newhart" repeated throughout, echoing the melody (and drum rhythms), finally ending with "Here on Nick at Nite."

Later seasons, set to new music, show Bob's morning commute and feature all of the principal actors.


Bob's patients

Bob and Emily's relatives

Neighbors, friends and others
  • Patricia Smith as Margaret Hoover, Emily's friend (7 episodes)
  • Tom Poston as Cliff "The Peeper" Murdock, Bob's college friend from Vermont (5)
  • Moosie Drier as Howie Borden, Howard's son (5)
  • Will Mackenzie as Larry Bondurant, Carol's husband (5)
  • Richard Schaal as Chuck Brock, a boyfriend of Carol's (3)
  • Jill Jaress as Mary Ellen, a girlfriend of Jerry's (4)
  • Gail Strickland as Courtney Simpson, a girlfriend of Jerry's (2)

Rimpo Medical Arts Center
  • Larry Gelman as Dr. Bernie Tupperman, urologist (12 episodes)
  • Howard Platt as Dr. Newman, cosmetic surgeon (4)
  • Shirley O'Hara as Debbie, temp receptionist (3)
  • Phillip R. Allen as Dr. Walburn, another psychologist (2)
  • Teri Garr as Miss Brennan, Dr. Walburn's receptionist (2)


The show ranked in the Top 20 for its first three seasons (it followed the popular Mary Tyler Moore Show), but schedule changes eventually pushed it to #53 by its final season (1977-78).

The series has aired repeatedly in reruns on numerous local and cable television channels. It is currently being shown Monday through Thursday nights at 5PM on the AmericanLife TV Network.

Awards and honors

The show was nominated for an Emmy as "Outstanding Comedy Series" in 1977. Newhart was nominated for Golden Globes as "Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy" in 1975 and 1976. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time listed it as #44 on its list. In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".

In 2004, TV Land commemorated the show with a statue of Newhart in character as Dr. Hartley, seated and facing an empty couch, as if conducting a therapy session in his office. The statue was temporarilly installed in front of 430 North Michigan Avenue, the building used for exterior establishing shots of Hartley's office. The statue's permanent home is a scant few blocks to the east, in the sculpture park in front of Chicago's popular Navy Piermarker entertainment complex.

Final episode and after

In the show's final episode, "Happy Trails to You", Bob accepts a teaching position at a small college in Oregon, with the Hartleys leaving Chicago - as well as their friends and neighbors, and Bob's patients - behind them. The closing scene, in which the cast exchange tearful goodbyes and embrace before bursting into an impromptu refrain of "Oklahoma", is a wry nod to the Mary Tyler Moore Show finale (also produced by MTM) from the previous year.

Jack Riley reprised his Elliot Carlin role in 1985 for an episode of St. Elsewhere, partnered with Oliver Clark as the amnesiac John Doe Number Six. Carlin and Doe have been committed to the hospital's mental ward, where Carlin treats Doe with the same verbal abuse he directed toward Clark's "Mr. Herd" on The Bob Newhart Show. Carlin blames his insanity on an unnamed "quack in Chicago". While Oliver Clark's recurring portrayal of John Doe Number Six is essentially identical to Mr. Herd, the two are never stated to be the same individual.

Leaving St. Eligius' mental ward, Mr. Carlin heads northwest, as he next turns up in 1988, being treated by the same therapist in Vermont whom Dick Louden (Bob Newhart) visits for marriage therapy. Dick feels he recognises Carlin but cannot place his face, and is promptly insulted by Carlin. Echoing Carlin's statement in Boston three years earlier, the therapist appologises for Mr. Carlin, explaining that it has taken her "years to undo the damage caused by some quack in Chicago."

Newhart and Pleshette reprised their roles from the show for the surreal finale of Newhart in 1990, in which it was revealed that the entire later Newhart series had been just Bob Hartley's dream. Bob and Emily are shown in either their old bedroom from the Chicago apartment, or a similarly decorated bedroom as the couple had moved out of that apartment more than a decade earlier. Through Carlin, both The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart are incorporated into the so-called "Tommy Westphall Universe"; such that Newhart was just a dream of Bob Hartley who is, in turn, a figment of Tommy Westphall's autistic imagination.

The entire cast assembled for the one-hour clip show The Bob Newhart Show 19th Anniversary in 1991. On the show, 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 years", as scenes from I Dream of Jeannie featuring Daily were shown.

Newhart played Bob Hartley once again on Murphy Brown, when he showed up at the end of the episode "Anything But Cured" (March 14, 1994) to beg Carol (Marcia Wallace reprising her role) to leave her job as Murphy's secretary and come back with him to Chicago. A running gag on Murphy Brown was Murphy's dissatisfaction with each new secretary she was assigned, with each lasting less than a day. Carol was one of only two who measured up to Murphy's standards, and each quit by the end of their respective episode for a better job (the other being Paul Reubens as Andrew J. Lansing III who was promoted to an executive position through nepotism).

Newhart reprised Hartley twice in the February 11, 1995 episode of Saturday Night Live. In one sketch, he appears on a satirical version of Ricki Lake, befuddled by both Ms. Lake's dysfunctional guests and her own armchair pop psychology. The episode ended with a repeat of Newhart’s "just a dream" scene, in which Bob Hartley again wakes up with Emily (Pleschette), and tells her that he just dreamt he had hosted SNL. Emily responds, "That show's not still on, is it?"

The "Hartleys" were also hosts for a segment of the CBS Television Fiftieth Anniversary broadcast.

The variety show

Before the sitcom, Newhart had been the star of a half-hour comedy variety show with the same name. It ran from October 1961 through June 1962 on NBC, and won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. Neither should be confused with two other series in which he starred, Newhart or Bob. The variety show was sponsored by Kraft Foods's Sealtest Dairy division, and was seen on Wednesday nights at 10 pm Eastern time, immediately following Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall. Several black and white kinescopes of this color videotaped series are known to exist.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released the first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD in Region 1.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 24 April 12, 2005
The Complete 2nd Season 24 October 4, 2005
The Complete 3rd Season 24 April 11, 2006
The Complete 4th Season 24 September 5, 2006


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