|Created by||Barry Kemp|
|Developed by||Sheldon Bull|
|Theme music composer||Henry Mancini|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||184|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Distributor||MTM Television Distribution Group|
|Original release||October 25, 1982 -|
May 21, 1990
Newhart is an American sitcom television series 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 Bob Newhart and Mary Frann as an author and his wife who own and operate an inn 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.
Bob Newhart plays Dick Loudon, an author of do-it-yourself and travel books. He and his wife Joanna move from New York City to a small town in rural Vermont to operate the 200-year-old Stratford Inn. Although the town's name was never specified in the show, some media sources identified it as Norwich. The outside shot of the house is the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury.
Dick is a sane, mild-mannered everyman surrounded by a community of oddballs in a town that exists in an illogical world governed by rules that elude him. Near the end of the second season, 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 television career and the quirky townsfolk.
The series finale of Newhart, titled "The Last Newhart", has been described as one of the most memorable in television history. The entire town is purchased by a visiting Japanese tycoon, who turns the hamlet into an enormous 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 that 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, 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, and storms out shouting "You're all crazy!", only to be knocked out by an errantly struck golf ball.
The setting of the last scene is nighttime, in the bedroom of Dr. Bob Hartley (The Bob Newhart Show) and his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette). Hartley awakens, upset, and he wakes Emily to tell her about the very strange dream he has just had: that he was an innkeeper in a small Vermont town filled with eccentric characters and married to a beautiful blonde. Emily (slightly upset about hearing Bob's dream dalliance with "a beautiful blond") tells him he cannot have Japanese food before bed anymore.
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.
The MTM cat logo normally closed the show end credits with Newhart voicing-over the "meow", but for the finale, the cat's voiceover was a reprise of Darryl and Darryl yelling "Quiet!"
Interviews with Newhart, Pleshette, and director Dick Martin 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 live audience recognized the bedroom set from The Bob Newhart Show and burst into spontaneous applause. Pleshette and Newhart did the scene in one take.
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."
Entertainment Weekly claimed in 1995 that Newhart's wife Ginny had conceived the idea for the finale, but the show's executive producers, Mark Egan, Mark Solomon, and Bob Bendetson, denied this in a letter to the editor, "[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)."
Newhart himself, in his 2006 book I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! And Other Things that Strike Me as Funny, stated that his wife had indeed proposed the ending of Newhart. 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."
In November 2005, the series finale was named by TV Guide and TV Land as the most unexpected moment in TV history. 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, and in 2013 was ranked number 1 in Entertainment Weekly's 20 Best TV Series Finales Ever.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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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.
|Season||Episodes||Original air dates||TV season||Nielsen ratings|
|Season premiere||Season finale||Rank||Rating||Households / Viewers (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|
The show was nominated for 25 Emmy Awards but never won.
Newhart earned a total of six nominations for Golden Globe Awards.
20th Century Fox released season one of Newhart on DVD in Region 1 on February 26, 2008.
|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|