THE BOB NEWHART SHOW
September 16, 1972 - April 1, 1978
Starring: Bob Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Bill Daily, Peter Bonerz, Marcia Wallace
The Bob Newhart Show is a classic comedy from the 1970s that was overshadowed at the time (and still is) by other hit sitcoms that aired on CBS Saturday night with it: The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family. It never won an Emmy Award and doesn't have the pop culture status of other 1970s hits but it's a classic in its own right. A smartly written comedy with a brilliant ensemble, it was a sophisticated sitcom focused on an unlikely profession (psychology) and was the best showcase of its star's brilliant deadpan comedy style.
After a decade of "dumb" sitcoms (Gilligan's Island, The Flying Nun, etc) and a contemporary of some envelope-pushing sitcoms (All in the Family, Maude, etc), The Bob Newhart Show wasn't either. It was a smart, sophisticated, adult comedy that was not childish but also not racy. It rarely veered to broad sight gags and instead focused on the slightly offbeat set of characters and their interactions with each other. It doesn't have the fanfare of other sitcoms from the era but it's a true classic with a great theme song to boot. And it was of course memorably revived in the classic final scene of the final episode of Newhart's second sitcom Newhart.
THE 10 BEST EPISODES OF "THE BOB NEWHART SHOW"
Note: this is solely based on personal opinion
10. #122 "Ex-Con Job" (first aired October 1, 1977)
Bob treats an ex-con as a patient in this final season episode. It's a good episode but what puts it on this list is a great moment when Howard enters the apartment to see the ex-con holding up Bob and Emily and thinks they are literally "holding up" the wall.
9. #14 "His Busiest Season" (first aired December 23, 1972)
The Bob Newhart Show aired a Christmas episode every season and the first one is a memorable one. A psychologist is quite busy at Christmas but when all the patients come over for a Christmas party, depression ensues. A great early look at the group dynamics that were so well done on this show.
8. #115 "Death Be My Destiny" (first aired February 12, 1977)
Bob is trying to help a patient overcome a fear of falling but has a terrifying experience in an elevator that makes Bob fear death and falling. A great episode where the tables are turned on psychologist Bob.
7. #2 "Tracy Grammar School, I'll Lick You Yet" (first aired September 23, 1972)
Bob is offended when schoolteacher Emily doesn't ask him to come speak to her class but when someone cancels and Bob has to fill in, it's easy to see why he wasn't asked. This is classic deadpan Newhart especially as he interacts with children.
6. #25 "Last TV Show" (first aired September 15, 1973)
Bob agrees to do a group therapy session on TV and his patients are very excited until the actual taping of the show when they get a sudden case of stage fright. The broadcast then becomes painfully awkward as Bob has to try to fill the time.
5. #81 "Who is Mr. X?" (first aired November 8, 1975)
Bob agrees to be interviewed on TV but the interviewer turns out to be a "gotcha" journalist and Bob has to avoid saying things he shouldn't. This is a commonly used sitcom plot line but its done extremely well here.
4. #1 "Fly the Unfriendly Skies" (first aired September 16, 1972)
3. #39 "I'm Dreaming of a Slight Christmas" (first aired December 22, 1973)
The most classic of the Christmas episodes, Bob is stuck at the office when a blizzard hits. This episode has the great warmth of a Christmas episode in the sweet ending and some funny holiday party moments including a drunk Carol.
2. #75 "Death of a Fruitman" (first aired September 27, 1975)
Bob's therapy group has a tough time dealing with the death of a patient (Mr. Gianelli) who they previously hated. Seeing Mr. Carlin, Mr. Peterson, and Mrs. Bakerman each deal in their own way is a highlight of this episode, which is not sentimental but funny. Also memorable is the "poem" they give to Bob where Mr. Gianelli was supposed to have written the final line.
1. #83 "Over the River and Through the Woods" (first aired November 22, 1975)
Not just a classic of The Bob Newhart Show but a classic among sitcoms period. When Emily goes to her family's for Thanksgiving, Bob invites Howard, Jerry, and Mr. Carlin over for football but they all get hammered during the game. There are so many hilarious moments as Bob plays a great drunk. His phone call to the Chinese place with the famous "moo goo gai pan" bit and the conversation about cooking the turkey are highlights in a great episode from start to finish.