The Bob Newhart Show

The Bob Newhart Show Information

The Bob Newhart Show is an American situation comedy produced by MTM Enterprises, which aired 142 original episodes on CBS from September 16, , to April 1, . Comedian Bob Newhart portrays a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers. The show was filmed before a live audience.


The show centers around Robert Hartley, Ph.D. (Newhart), a Chicago psychologist. It divides most of its action between the character's work and his home life, with Hartley's supportive (though occasionally sarcastic) wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and as their friendly but inept neighbor, airline navigator Howard Borden (Bill Daily). At the medical office where Hartley has his psychology practice are Jerry Robinson, D.D.S. (Peter Bonerz), an orthodontist who shared the office suite, and their joke-loving receptionist, Carol Kester (Marcia Wallace).

Hartley's three most frequently seen regular patients are the mean-spirited and neurotic Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley), the milquetoast Marine veteran Emil Peterson (John Fiedler), and shy, reserved Lillian Bakerman (Florida Friebus), an elderly lady who spent most of her sessions knitting. (Carlin was ranked 49th in TV Guide's List of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time, and Riley reprised the character in guest appearances on both St. Elsewhere and Newhart.)

Most of the situations involve Newhart's character playing straight man to his wife, colleagues, friends, and patients, an extension of Newhart's stand-up comedy routines, where Newhart would play one side of a telephone conversation, the other side of which is not heard. Emily routinely acts as straight 'man' to dimwitted Howard, and on occasion to Bob.

Opening credits

The original opening of the show begins with a ringing telephone on Bob's office desk, which he answers with a simple, "Hello?" This is a reference to Newhart's stand-up comedy act, which often featured him carrying on a phone conversation with an unheard party on the other end. A piano riff then introduces a jazzy, trumpet-heavy instrumental theme tune ("Home to My Emily," composed by series co-creator Lorenzo Music with his wife Henrietta), as numerous brief shots document Bob's journey home from work, ending with a shot of Emily greeting Bob at their apartment.

From season 4 onwards, the opening (and ending) theme was set to a newly arranged funk-fusion sound and this time shows Bob's morning commute.

In the 1990s, Nick at Nite parodied this opening by adding lyrics to it. The lyrics consisted solely of the words "Bob Newhart" repeated throughout, echoing the melody (and drum rhythms), finally ending with "Here on Nick at Nite."


  • Bob Newhart as Dr. Robert Hartley, psychologist
  • Suzanne Pleshette as Emily Hartley, his wife, a school teacher and later assistant principal
  • Bill Daily as Howard Borden, their next-door neighbor, an airline navigator and later co-captain
  • Peter Bonerz as Dr. Jerry Robinson, Bob's friend, an orthodontist
  • Marcia Wallace as Carol Kester, their receptionist
Bob's patients

  • Jack Riley as Elliot F. Carlin (76 episodes)
  • Florida Friebus as Mrs. Lillian Bakerman (17)
  • Amzie Strickland as Mrs. Bakermen (2)
  • Renée Lippin as Michelle Nardo (17)
  • John Fiedler as Emil Peterson (15)
  • Oliver Clark as Ed Herd (8)
  • Noam Pitlik as Victor Gianelli (5)
  • Daniel J. Travanti as Victor Gianelli (1)
  • Howard Hesseman as Craig Plager (7)
  • Lucien Scott as Edgar T. Vickers (5)
  • Merie Earle as Mrs. Loomis (4)
  • Rhoda Gemignani as Joan Rossi (3)
  • Michael Conrad as Mr. Trevesco (2)
Bob and Emily's relatives

  • Pat Finley as Ellen Hartley, Bob's sister and Howard's girlfriend (15 episodes)
  • Martha Scott as Martha Hartley, Bob's mother (7)
  • Barnard Hughes as Herb Hartley, Bob's father (3)
  • John Randolph as Cornelius "Junior" Harrison, Jr., Emily's father (3)
  • Ann Rutherford as Aggie Harrison, Emily's mother (2)
Neighbors, friends and others

  • Patricia Smith as Margaret Hoover, Emily's friend (7 episodes)
  • Tom Poston as Cliff "The Peeper" Murdock, Bob's college friend from Vermont (5)
  • Moosie Drier as Howie Borden, Howard's son (6)
  • Will Mackenzie as Larry Bondurant, Carol's boyfriend and later husband (8)
  • Richard Schaal as Chuck Brock, a boyfriend of Carol's (3)
  • Jill Jaress as Mary Ellen, a girlfriend of Jerry's (3)
  • Gail Strickland as Courtney Simpson, a girlfriend of Jerry's (2)
  • Raúl Juliá as Dr. Greg Robinson, Jerry's brother (1)
  • Heather Menzies as Debbie Borden, Howard's younger sister (1)
  • William Redfield as Gordon Borden, the game warden, Howard's brother (1)
Rimbau Medical Arts Center

  • Larry Gelman as Dr. Bernie Tupperman, urologist (13 episodes)
  • Howard Platt as Dr. Phil Newman, cosmetic surgeon (6)
  • Shirley O'Hara as Debbie Flett, temp receptionist (3)
  • Kristina Holland as Gail Bronson, Carol's vacation replacement (2)
  • Phillip R. Allen as Dr. Frank Walburn, another psychologist (2)
  • Teri Garr as Miss Brennan, Dr. Walburn's receptionist (2)


The first four seasons aired Saturdays at 9:30, season five aired Saturdays at 9:30 and 8:30 and the final season aired Saturdays at 8:00.


The show ranked in the Top 20 for its first three seasons, following the Mary Tyler Moore Show in CBS's Saturday night lineup. By the end of the fifth season, ratings had slipped, and with The Mary Tyler Moore Show leaving and schedule changes, Newhart was thinking seriously of ending the program. CBS offered him a sixth season, but he felt that it was time to move on. He later revealed in an interview that what made him change his mind was the amount of mail he received from viewers begging him not to go off the air. Newhart said that their response "almost made me cry." As a result, The Bob Newhart Show returned for the 1977-1978 season. On April 1, 1978, the show broadcast its final episode "Happy Trails To You". It ended its sixth year ranking 53rd.

  • 1972"1973: #16 (21.8)
  • 1973"1974: #12 (22.3) " Tied with The Wonderful World of Disney
  • 1974"1975: #17 (22.4)
  • 1975"1976: #26 (20.7) " Tied with Donny and Marie and The Streets of San Francisco
  • 1976"1977: N/A
  • 1977"1978: N/A

Awards and honors

In 1977, the show received two Emmy nominations – for "Outstanding Comedy Series" and for Pleshette for "Outstanding Continued Performance By An Actress In A Comedy Series". Newhart was nominated for Golden Globes as "Best TV Actor"?Musical/Comedy" in 1975 and 1976. In 1997, the episodes "Over the River and Through the Woods" and "Death Be My Destiny" were respectively ranked No. 9 and No. 50 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time listed it as No. 44. In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Bravo ranked Bob Hartley 84th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.

In 2004, TV Land commemorated the show with a statue of Newhart in character as Dr. Hartley, seated and facing an empty couch, as if conducting a therapy session in his office. The statue was temporarily installed in front of 430 North Michigan Avenue, the building used for exterior establishing shots of Hartley's office. The statue is now permanently located in the sculpture park in front of Chicago's Navy Pier entertainment complex.

Final episode

In the show's final episode, "Happy Trails to You," Bob gives up his psychology practice and accepts a teaching position at a small college in Oregon, with the Hartleys leaving Chicago"?as well as their friends and neighbors, and Bob's patients"?behind them. The closing scene, in which the cast exchange tearful goodbyes and embrace before bursting into an impromptu refrain of "Oklahoma," is a wry nod to the Mary Tyler Moore Show finale (also produced by MTM) from the previous year.

Later appearances by series characters

St. Elsewhere (1985)

Jack Riley reprised his Elliot Carlin role in 1985 for an episode of St. Elsewhere, partnered with Oliver Clark as the amnesiac John Doe Number Six. Carlin and Doe have been committed to the hospital's mental ward, where Carlin treats Doe with the same verbal abuse he directed toward Clark's "Mr. Herd" on The Bob Newhart Show. Carlin blames his insanity on an unnamed "quack in Chicago." While Oliver Clark's recurring portrayal of John Doe Number Six is essentially identical to Mr. Herd, the two are never stated to be the same individual.

Newhart (1988 and 1990)

Riley also turned up on the show Newhart in 1988, playing an unnamed character who acted very much like Mr. Carlin. This character is being treated by the same therapist in Vermont whom Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) visits for marriage therapy. Dick feels he recognizes Riley's character but cannot place his face, whereupon the unnamed patient insults him. Echoing Carlin's statement in Boston three years earlier, the therapist apologizes for his patient, explaining that it has taken her "years to undo the damage caused by some quack in Chicago."

Later, Newhart and Pleshette reprised their roles from the show for the surreal finale of Newhart in 1990, in which it was revealed that the entire later Newhart series had been just Bob Hartley's dream. Bob and Emily are shown in either their old bedroom from the Chicago apartment, or a similarly decorated bedroom as the couple had moved out of that apartment more than a decade earlier per the Bob Newhart Show finale.

The Bob Newhart Show 19th Anniversary (1991)

The entire cast assembled for the one-hour clip show The Bob Newhart Show 19th Anniversary in 1991, which finds the show's characters in the present day. This show is set in Chicago, in the same apartment and office that Bob Hartley had in his 1970s show"?the move to Oregon is never mentioned. Viewers are left to assume that either the move never actually took place or that, if it did take place, the Hartleys quickly moved back to Chicago and resumed their life there.

During the course of the show, one of the things the characters did was analyze Bob's dream. During the discussion, the Hartleys' neighbor Howard Borden (Bill Daily) recalled, "I had a dream like that once. I dreamed I was an astronaut in Florida for five years," as scenes from I Dream of Jeannie featuring Daily were shown.

Murphy Brown (1994)

Newhart played Bob Hartley once again on Murphy Brown, when he showed up at the end of the episode "Anything But Cured" (March 14, 1994) to beg Carol (Marcia Wallace reprising her role) to leave her job as Murphy's secretary and come back with him to Chicago. A running gag on Murphy Brown was Murphy's dissatisfaction with each new secretary she was assigned, with each lasting less than a day. Carol was one of only two who measured up to Murphy's standards, and each quit by the end of their respective episode for a better job – the other being Paul Reubens as Andrew J. Lansing III, who was promoted to an executive position through nepotism.

Saturday Night Live (1995)

Newhart reprised Hartley twice in the February 11, 1995 episode of Saturday Night Live. In one sketch, he appears on a satirical version of Ricki Lake, befuddled by both Ms. Lake's dysfunctional guests and Lake's armchair pop psychology. The episode ended with a repeat of Newhart's "just a dream" scene, in which Bob Hartley again wakes up with Emily (Pleshette), and tells her that he just dreamt he had hosted SNL. Emily responds, "That show's not still on, is it?"

CBS at 75 (2002)

The "Hartleys" were also hosts for a segment of the CBS at 75 broadcast.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released the first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD in Region 1. Currently, seasons five and six are available for pre-order from, with release dates yet to be determined.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 24 April 12, 2005
The Complete 2nd Season 24 October 4, 2005
The Complete 3rd Season 24 April 11, 2006
The Complete 4th Season 24 September 5, 2006
The Complete 5th Season 24 TBA
The Complete 6th Season 22 TBA

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