El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


20th Century Fox

The title pretty much says it all. This DVD set contains the first season of The Bob Newhart Show, which aired from 9/16/72 to 3/10/73. The 24 episodes cover both sides of three discs; a little caution is required in their handling. This dual-side method cuts down on the number of discs and packaging, passing on the saving to you.

Bob Newhart became a comedian in the early ‘60s and skyrocketed to prominence by being the first to fully exploit the comedy album. He even won a Grammy for Best Album of the year in 1960 for The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. He isn’t a joke-teller. He performs routines where you only hear his characters reactions to situations and conversations, such as a driving instructor or a press agent working with Abe Lincoln on the Gettysburg Address.

Bob’s act was extrapolated into the very funny The Bob Newhart Show, which ran for six seasons. It was part of what is arguably the greatest line-up in television history. The 1973-74 roster for Saturday evening on CBS was All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and concluded with The Carol Burnet Show. Each of these programs could have anchored an evening.

Bob played a psychologist married to third-grade school teacher Emily (Suzanne Pleshette). He lived next to airline navigator Howard (Bill Daily), who seemed to have a sixth sense about when Bob and Emily were serving meals. At his office building he shared a secretary, Carol (Marcia Wallace, who the kids know as Mr’s Krabappel from The Simpsons), with dentist Jerry (Peter Boneraz). A number of Bob’s patients were regulars like the cantankerous Mr. Carlin and the henpecked Mr. Peterson. Some characters didn’t make it out of the first season like Bob’s patient, Mr. Gianelli and Margaret Hoover, Emily’s friend and a neighbor in the building. Margaret had one-liners about her husband and the kids. She wasn’t that funny and didn’t add much so it’s no wonder she didn’t last past this season.

Part of Bob’s brilliance is that he didn’t let his ego get in the way of the show. Although he was the star, he didn’t have to always be the funniest person or have the best lines. The wacky high jinks usually happened around Bob while he remained the focal point. Like his stand-up act, Bob’s humor derives from his reactions to the absurdities around him. There was no meanness in his retorts just a mild dose of sarcasm. It’s a formula that repeated in his other successful series Newhart that ran throughout the ‘80s.

The picture quality of the DVDs is tolerable. It looks broadcast quality but doesn’t look to have had any restoration was done. The dark colors in background tend to blend together. The episodes are broken down into small chapters and can be heard in English and Spanish. Captions are available in English and Spanish as well.

The greatest thing about owning the set is that you can now play the legendary drinking game, “Hi, Bob,” at your leisure. For the uninitiated, you take a drink of your beverage of choice whenever any character, mostly Howard, says the phrase “Hi, Bob.”


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