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Newhart

By Wikipedia

Newhart was a situation comedy that aired on the CBS network from 1982 to 1990.

The show starred comedian Bob Newhart as Dick Loudon, an author who moved from New York City to the fictional town of Stratford, Vermont (with locations shots filmed in the town of Middlebury, Vermont), to run an inn, and also along the way becomes a local television talk show host, hosting a largely-unwatched show on books and authors.

Loudon is a sane, mild-mannered everyman surrounded by a community of oddballs. It is an illogical world that moves just a bit too fast for him. The show's premise has sometimes been compared to that of the 1965–71 sitcom Green Acres, though Green Acres had broader humor and used physical comedy more prominently.

Mary Frann portrayed Loudon's wife, Joanna, who also ran the inn, which was named The Stratford Inn. The show also featured Tom Poston as somewhat dim handyman George Utley, Peter Scolari as Loudon's hyperactive and manipulative television producer Michael Harris, and Julia Duffy as hotel maid Stephanie Vanderkellen, who is a spoiled rich girl cut off by her parents and who grudgingly, and often incompetently, works as a maid. She is also Harris' girlfriend, later wife, the attraction mainly being that they're both exceptionally shallow and superficial.

Jennifer Holmes starred in the first season as Leslie, the Loudon's hotel maid, prior to Stephanie being hired. Also fabulously rich, a world-class skier, and with a foundation that underwrites Jacques-Yves Cousteau, she is Stephanie's more cheerful, nicer cousin and said she took the job to find out what it is like to be normal. "It's fun," Loudon responded unconvincingly.

During the entire run of the show, actors William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, and John Voldstad were cast members who became three of the most popular (and surreal) characters on the show, Larry, Darryl and Darryl. The two Darryls never spoke (until the show's final episode in which they said one word), and in a monotone Larry would introduce them every time they entered a room with "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl".

The three, who apparently had no last name, were dirty backwoodsmen who lived in a shack, but from the things they said often appeared to be from another planet, though some of the most far-out things often turned out to be true. For a time Larry had a crush on Stephanie, which initially frightened her, until she eventually realized the three were basically decent, though strange.

(The characters of Larry, Darryl, and Darryl also appear in various episodes of the television series Coach, which was created by the creator of Newhart, Barry Kemp.)

The show was produced by David Mirkin, (who also wrote nine episodes, and directed four), Bob Bendetson, Sheldon Bull, Barton Dean, Mark Egan, Stephen C. Grossman, Barry Kemp, Michael Loman, Richard Rosenstock, Mark Solomon, Roy Teicher, Dan Wilcox, Douglas Wyman, and Shelley Zellman.

Other recurring characters include chronic liar Kirk Devane (Steven Kampmann), who owned the Minuteman Café across from the Stratford Inn (later acquired by Larry and the Darryls), the over-the-top macho police chief Officer Shifflett (Todd Susman), the prim but hot-to-trot librarian Prudence Goddard (Kathy Kinney), the fussbudget, small-minded mayor Chester Wanamaker (William Lanteau) and his wild-eyed friend Jim Dixon (Thomas Hill).

Jokes could be quite sly on the show. In one episode, members of the Beaver Lodge are watching Gilligan's Island on the TV. Loudon throws them out with one member protesting that he wanted to see how it ended, though the joke was that they always end the same way with the castaways not getting off the island. The sly joke was that protester was Russell Johnson, who appeared on Gilligan's Island as the Professor.

"The Last Newhart"

The series had one of the most memorable final episodes in television history. Titled "The Last Newhart," everyone in Stratford, Vermont sells the town to Japanese investors, who plan to turn the hamlet into a huge golf course and recreation resort. Everyone, that is, except for Dick and Joanna, thanks largely to Dick's refusal to play along with what he views as the latest whim of the townspeople. Everyone takes their huge payoffs, says their final good-byes, and leave Dick and Joanna to run the Stratford Inn.

Flash forward to five years later, when everyone decides to pay the Loudens a visit — richer and odder than before. Larry, Darryl and Darryl arrive, each having married gabby, talkative women. When their wives will not shut up, Darryl and Darryl yell out, "QUIET!!!" This is the only time on the show that anyone--except Larry, who always comments how talkative they are--has ever heard them say a word and Dick is astonished.

Michael and Stephanie are the parents of a little girl, whom they have of course have spoiled rotten. And George has opened his new theme park dedicated to handymen. Joanna, meanwhile, has become a geisha girl, and is gladly playing along with the eccentric new owners.

Things quickly become chaotic, and Dick finally vents his frustration at how unmanageable and stupid everything has become. Nobody is interested in Dick's opinion, so he threatens to leave.

Just as he is making good on his promise, a wayward golf ball strikes the temple of Dick's head, causing him to crash to the floor in an unconscious heap. The screen goes blank.

Then, a light is turned on and viewers see Dick in bed... or is that Dick? He tells his wife, "Honey, you won't believe the dream I just had." The other light comes on, and it's not Joanna, but Emily Hartley (Suzanne Pleshette). It is Bob Hartley, Newhart's character from the 1970s series, The Bob Newhart Show. He explains his dream — no one in the town is normal, the maid is snobbish, her husband speaks in alliteration, the handyman failed to grasp various concepts ... and then there were these three guys, and only one of them did the talking. Emily is irritated at how ridiculous the dream sounds and tells Bob to go back to sleep.

Trivia

  • The first (and what many fans and critics call the best) season was produced on videotape. From season two forward (in keeping with the visual flow with other CBS sitcoms), the show was produced on film, first in 16MM, and in the final two seasons, on digitally edited 35MM.
  • The Dry erase board in Michael's apartment listing his goals always mentions "Take Over CBS" in addition to his changing daily tasks, somewhat of a jab at the network the series aired on.

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Newhart? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"Does anyone know where the opening sequence was shot? I have taped it and slowed it and frozen certain shots; trying to read the signpost with the town names. Wonderful theme song by Henry Mancini and the show where Bob ends up in the stockade at Colonial Days is a riot - all-time favorite."

--bhop59

"This series' finale was the best ever for a sit-com. [Editor's note: Absolutely!] Bob Newhart waking up in the set of the old series, with Suzanne Pleshette beside him in bed was without a doubt not only the most clever ending, but definately very unexpected. It surprised me. I taped it, and love it a lot. By far my all-time favorite episode. Others: THE HOAUNTED INN, where the former owners try scaring Dick and Joanna into selling the inn back to them by scaring the devil out of them; THE MURDER AT THE STRATLEE, where Dick writes a murder mystery novel, and bases the characters in the book on the people in the town,. When Joanna disappears, briefly, they all suspect Dick of offing her. CLASSIC episode. I also loved, MAY WE SERVE YOU?, where Joanna helps Larry and the Darryl's remodel their cafe, and open a high class eatery, only to lose to their poor manners when they exclaim, "We've got to be we!" Very funny. Another one just came to mind called, SO YOU WANT TO BE A TV SALESMAN, where Dick and Stephanie are given their own home shopping show, and after just two episodes, Michael's producer pulls the plug. BEST PART: Dick's Looney Lenny approach. A GREAT series, through and through. This comedy is to the Awesome80s, what SEINFELD was for the 90's."

--Tom

"One of my favorite moments of Newhart was when Stephanie sang "Old Man River" during a telethon they held to raise money for the tv station. She was all dressed in sequins and jewels, and she sang the sad, sad song in a happy lilting tone. Dick was delirious from being awake for so many hours, and during her song, he started crying, saying how beautiful it was."

--Neet

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: October 25, 1982 - September 8, 1990

Cast: Bob Newhart, Mary Frann, Steven Kampmann, Tom Poston, Jennifer Holmes, William Sanderson, Julia Duffy, Tony Papenfuss, Thomas Hill

Network: CBS

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of CBS


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