Forty-two years after its premiere, The Bob Newhart Show continues to matter. Based on Newhart’s buttoned-up comic sensibility — yes, before making Johnny Carson roar with laughter, Newhart had been an accountant — The Bob Newhart Show was the story of a Chicago psychologist, Bob Hartley; his lovely wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette); and the oddball characters that lived in their building and visited his office. With its simple, straightforward premise — low-concept, even — the show became the template for subsequent comic-driven sitcoms, good and bad.
For six seasons, The Bob Newhart Show ran as part of CBS’s juggernaut Saturday-night lineup, which also featured All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore. The series never quite reached the ratings its time-slot neighbors did, and it was never recognized for even one Emmy Award. Still, Newhart’s brand of humor, epitomized by his deadpan, one-sided phone conversations, which always veered into zany territory, made its mark. Its spirit was resurrected in Newhart, the actor’s second successful sitcom, which in turn honored its predecessor with the most famous series finale in sitcom history. READ FULL STORY