Newhart
Newhart (title card).png
Created byBarry Kemp
Developed bySheldon Bull
StarringBob Newhart
Mary Frann
Jennifer Holmes
Julia Duffy
Tom Poston
Steven Kampmann
Peter Scolari
William Sanderson
Tony Papenfuss
John Voldstad
Theme music composerHenry Mancini
ComposerNelson Riddle
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes184 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersBarry Kemp
Mark Egan
Mark Solomon
Dan Wilcox
Douglas Wyman
David Mirkin
ProducerSheldon Bull
Running time24 minutes
Production companyMTM Enterprises
Distributor20th Television
Release
Original networkCBS
Original releaseOctober 25, 1982 (1982-10-25) –
May 21, 1990 (1990-05-21)
Chronology
Preceded byThe Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978)
Followed byBob (TV series) (1992-1993)

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 eight seasons. The series stars Bob Newhart and Mary Frann as an author and his wife, respectively, 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. The theme music for Newhart was composed by Henry Mancini.

Premise

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.[1] The outside shot of the house is the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury.

Dick and Joanna run the inn with the help of sweet-natured but simple handyman George Utley and Leslie Vanderkellen, a Dartmouth College student and heiress who takes a job as a maid to find out what it's like to be "normal." Next door to the inn is the Minuteman Café, owned by Kirk Devane, a pathological liar. Leslie leaves before season two to continue her studies abroad, to be replaced by her cousin Stephanie, who, unlike Leslie, is vain, lazy, and spoiled.

Near the end of season two, Dick becomes the host of a local television show, Vermont Today, where he interviews an assortment of bizarre and colorful guests. His vapid, neurotic producer, Michael Harris, falls in love with Stephanie, their relationship providing a satire of 1980s excess.[2]

The town is populated by oddballs whose behavior never ceases to bemuse the sane, mild-mannered everyman Dick. Among them are Larry, Darryl and Darryl, three brothers who normally worked as woodsmen, but also supported themselves with various odd jobs throughout the first two seasons. When Kirk moved away in the third season, the three brothers bought the Minuteman Cafe from him and were seen running it for the remainder of the series. Larry would always make an entrance saying "Hi! I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and that's my other brother Darryl". Neither of the Darryls talked (until the series finale), but Larry's descriptions of their misadventures often venture into the surreal.

As the series progresses, the world around Dick grows increasingly illogical. The final episode reveals that the entire series has been a dream of Dr. Robert Hartley, Newhart's character in The Bob Newhart Show.

Cast

Main

Recurring

"The Last Newhart"

The series finale of Newhart, titled "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 an enormous golf course and recreation resort. Dick and Joanna are the only townspeople who refuse to leave. The others accept million-dollar 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 errant golf ball.

The setting of the last scene is nighttime, in the bedroom of Dr. Bob Hartley (Newhart's character on The Bob Newhart Show) and his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette). Bob 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. Emily tells him "that settles it—no more Japanese food before you go to bed." Bob mentions his marriage to a "beautiful blonde," and that Emily should wear more sweaters (in reference to Mary Frann's form-fitting tops) before the credits roll.

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!"

Reception to the finale

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 live audience recognized the bedroom set from The Bob Newhart Show and burst into spontaneous applause. Pleshette and Newhart performed 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."

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)."[6]

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.[7] 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."[8]

Suzanne Pleshette, in a Television Academy interview, also avers that the idea was Ginny's, having heard it from Ginny over dinner with the Newharts several years before the finale was shot.[9]

In November 2005, the series finale was named by TV Guide and TV Land as the most unexpected moment in TV history.[10] The episode was watched by 29.5 million US viewers,[11] bringing in an 18.7/29 rating/share, and ranking as the most-watched program that week.[12]

In 2011, the finale was ranked number four on the TV Guide Network special, TV's Most Unforgettable Finales,[13] and in 2013 was ranked number 1 in Entertainment Weekly's 25 Best TV Series Finales Ever.[14]

In popular culture

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.[15][16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

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

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Newhart was a solid ratings winner, finishing its first five seasons in the Nielsen top 25. 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 on to 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 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[a] / Viewers[b] (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
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
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

Nominations

Emmy Awards

The show was nominated for 25 Emmy Awards but never won.

1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990

Golden Globe Awards

Newhart earned six nominations for Golden Globe Awards.

Other awards

Newhart was nominated for one Casting Society of America award and four nominations for TV Land Awards. Newhart won a total of four Viewers for Quality Television Awards.

Home media

20th Century Fox released season one of Newhart on DVD in Region 1 on February 26, 2008.

In November 2013, Shout! Factory announced it had acquired the rights to the series. It has since released the entire series in individual season sets.[19][20][21]

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

  1. ^ King, Susan (May 20, 1990). "Bye Bye, Bob : There's No One Left at the Inn as 'Newhart' Signs Off". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  2. ^ St. James, Emily. "How the second season of Newhart proves sitcoms need time to learn". AV Club.
  3. ^ "100 most memorable TV moments". TV Land. Archived from the original on December 15, 2004. Retrieved January 17, 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 January 17, 2017.
  6. ^ "Mail Page". Entertainment Weekly. June 2, 1995. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Newhart, Bob (2006). I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! And Other Things that Strike Me as Funny (1st ed.). New York: Hyperion. pp. 225–26. ISBN 978-1-4013-0246-7.
  8. ^ "Bob Newhart and Louis C.K.". Inside Comedy. Season 2. Episode 1. February 16, 2013. Showtime.
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Suzanne Pleshette on the final episode of "Newhart"". Television Academy Interviews – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "TV Guide and TV Land Join Forces To Count Down The 100 Most Unexpected TV Moments". TV Land. December 1, 2005. Archived from the original on August 30, 2006. Retrieved March 7, 2021 – via PR Newswire.
  11. ^ "On This Day... Bob Newhart snaps out of it". The Birmingham News. May 21, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Margulies, Lee (May 31, 1990). "TV RATINGS: 'Newhart' Comes in First but CBS Is Still Last". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  13. ^ Harrison, Shaun (April 17, 2016). "The Best TV Finales Ever". TV Guide. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  14. ^ "The 25 best TV series finales ever". Entertainment Weekly. May 29, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  15. ^ Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 278. ISBN 978-1-5795-8394-1.
  16. ^ Smith, Chris (March 13, 1995). "Comedy Isn't Funny: Saturday Night Live at twenty – how the show that transformed TV became a grim joke". New York Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  17. ^ "'Lost' Ending: Jimmy Kimmel and the Parodies". The Wall Street Journal. May 24, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  18. ^ Harnick, Chris (November 18, 2013). "Breaking Bad' Reveals Wonderful Alternate Ending With 'Malcolm In The Middle,' Jane Kaczmarek". Huffington Post.
  19. ^ "Newheart: Season Six". Shout! Factory. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  20. ^ "Newheart: Season Seven". TVShowsOnDVD. Archived from the original on December 12, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  21. ^ "Newhart – The Complete 8th and Final Season". Archived from the original on March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2017.