The Bob Newhart Show is as well known for the college drinking game associated to it (have a drink each time someone on the show says, "Hi, Bob!") as for being a very funny and high quality sitcom. Some may wonder about why you would want to buy a tv series on DVD when it is still available in its syndicated version on the Comedy Network or TV Land and so on. The answer, when looking at this excellent Fox Home Entertainment release, is simple: you get to watch the show you want when you want to watch it and in the order you want to watch it, you get a pristine quality print of each show, every single moment of each episode is there (often the syndicated version is cut by some two minutes to fit in more commercials), and the menu options allows you to select a chapter from an episode if you were interrupted (something not possible on other releases such as MASH so far).
Watching season one of this great seventies sitcom from MTM (home of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, The White Shadow, Rhoda, and so on and so on including Newhart -the show with Darryl and Darryl) will only make you wonder why they can't write sitcoms like that anymore. The standard wise beyond his years smart-mouthed kid is here replaced by adults in adult situations with adult dialogue that the whole family can appreciate and enjoy. Bob Newhart's strength in this show is that he is very comfortable playing second banana to all the other characters, or anything else for that matter including a ringing telephone, without looking like a fool at anytime. Also, the secondary characters always get the best lines. The lead's claim to comedic fame is his ability to do phone conversations so occasionally you get a short scene where he does exactly that: this is always a bonus.
The twenty-four shows on this 3 DVD set are presented according to when the episodes were aired (here 1972-73) so the pilot episode, with a whole bunch of characters who did not make the cut in subsequent shows, is 9th in the lineup. You also get to see that the standard Bob Newhart Show opening with Bob answering the phone only started with episode five.
This classic sitcom featured Suzanne Pleshette as Emily, Bob's wife, Bill Dailey as Howard Borden, Peter Bonerz as Jerry Robinson, Marcia Wallace as receptionist Carol Kester, Patricia Smith as neighbor Margaret Hoover who always leaves when Newhart gets home, and, of course, Jack Riley as patient Mr. Carlin. You will also notice appearances by Penny Marshall as a stewardess, Louise Lasser (of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and many Woody Allen films), Love Boat's Bernie Koppell, Pat Morita
The people at Fox obviously took great care with this release. Although you can debate whether it is better to have single-sided DVDs with 8 episodes as in the MASH releases or double-sided DVDs with 4 shows each, the packaging and presentation show unquestionable care. The two extra slim cases come with a brief synopsis of the episodes and the original air date. It is from this a modern viewer notices that in the seventies television seasons went from September to March and there were no reruns in the weeks leading up to sweeps.
Unfortunately, there are no extras whatsoever in this set. Hopefully, the vault will open in subsequent releases of the next seasons. The episodes that ran season one are as follows:
Fly the Unfriendly Skies: Therapist Bob's wife joins his fear of flying workshop
Tracy Grammar School, I'll Lick You Yet: Bob goes to career day at Emily's school and goes back again.
Tennis, Emily?: Obviously, Newhart is secure in his marriage.
Mom, I L-L-Love You: Saying those words can be so difficult for a straight-laced guy.
Goodnight, Nancy: A ghost from the past visits Bob.
Come Live With Me: Carol's newly separated boyfriend gets advice from the psychologist.
Father Knows Worst: Howard feels his son does not look up to him.
Don't Go To Bed Mad: Emily insists on living up to one of their promises.
Pilot: Bob and Emily want to adopt.
Anything Happen While I Was Gone?: Jerry almost ties the knot in record time.
I Want To Be Alone: No, not Greta Garbo, just Newhart's wish.
Bob and Emily and Howard and Carol and Jerry: A nod to Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice of sorts
I Owe It All To You . . . But Not That Much: Jerry becomes Bob's Patient.
His Busiest Season: The Christmas Show where all of the patients show up at the apartment after Emily and Bob feel lonely.
Let's Get Away From It All, Almost: A spur-of-the-moment vacation, or is it?
The Crash of 29 Years Old: Carol has a midlife crisis.
The Man With the Golden Wrist: No, not a James Bond movie, just a birthday party gone bad.
The Two Loves of Dr. Hartley: A patient has a crush on Dr. Hartley. Features a great phone bit and Bob saying, "Just think of me like a rock star with fans."
Not With My Sister You Don't: Howard gets worried when Jerry dates his sister.
A Home Is Not Necessarily a House: To move or not to move? That is the show. Also, how many people can fit in Jerry's dental office.
Emily, I'm Home. . . Emily? Bob feels forgotten when Emily works full time.
You Can't Win ‘Em All: A pro athlete asks for help.
Bum Voyage: Can Bob Hartley leave his patients to go on a cruise?
Who's Been Sleeping On My Couch? Jerry becomes the live-in brother-in-law.
Other Bob Newhart Reviews
Something Like This - The Bob Newhart Anthology: a best of his funny jokes and funny stories
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This! - Biography: Abridged and too much so.
The Windmills Are Weakening (1965): Features King Kong, Returning a Gift, and 5 other routines.
The Button-Down Mind on TV (1962): CD version of vinyl release Includes Introduction of Tobacco and two "lost" routines.
Bob Newhart Faces Bob Newhart (1964): Lesser album with The Man Who Looked Like HItler and Nudist Camp
This It It! (1967): Last Bob Newhart album. Features Witch Doctor, Prenatal Twins, and others.