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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Bob Newhart Show
Season One: 1972-73

SEASON ONE: 1972-73
SEASON TWO: 1973-74
SEASON FOUR: 1975-76
SEASON FIVE: 1976-77
SEASON SIX: 1977-78


Year-End Rating: 21.8 (16th place)

The life and times of Chicago psychologist Bob Hartley and his wife, Emily, are chronicled by series creators David Davis and Lorenzo Music, who serve as executive producers for the first three seasons. They are also the first season producers, along with Bill Idelson. Michael Zinberg is the associate producer for the initial three years.

Primary directors in the premiere season are Jay Sandrich--on loan from Mary Tyler Moore--and Alan Rafkin, one of the show's most prolific directors. Freshman-year scripts are contributed by a handful of MTM's best writers, including Davis and Music, Charlotte Brown, Jerry Mayer, Martin Cohan, Tom Patchett, and Jay Tarses.

1 Fly the Unfriendly Skies    First Aired: September 16, 1972
Writers: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Penny Marshall, Patricia Smith, Noam Pitlik, Jack Riley, Florida Friebus

Bob tries to help Emily overcome her paralyzing fear of planes by inviting her to join his "Fear of Flying" therapy group on a short flight to New York.

The series begins with a nod toward tradition, as Bob walks in the front door and doffs his hat, as sitcom husbands had been doing since the days when father knew best. And yet, over the course of our first short visit, things get curiouser and curiouser as we enter the peculiar universe of Bob Hartley, a rational man--a psychologist, no less--who finds himself moored in a surrealistic universe where the only prevailing logic is the serendipity of the absurd.

2 Tracy Grammar School, I'll Lick You Yet    First Aired: September 23, 1972
Writers: Carl Gottlieb, George Yanock
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: King Moody, Larry Gelman, Patricia Smith

Bob puts Emily's third graders to sleep when he attempts to explain the nuances of psychology on career day at Tracy Grammar School.

The episode hints at the show's casual attitude toward the Hartley's decidedly grown-up relationship. Always affectionate, and often demonstrative, Emily can't resist teasing her husband unmercifully. At one point she surprises Bob with a triple-strength kiss outside his office before she disappears into the elevator.

"It was funny to imagine Newhart in bed," chuckled writer Lorenzo Music, who quickly realized that the Hartleys' obvious physical attraction to each other added a new dimension to Newhart's firmly established persona. "Bob could just as easily have been a loser on a date, but Emily gave him sexuality. If someone as hip and sexy as her saw something in him, he must have had something special. We didn't ever have to show it--you just knew it was there."

3 Tennis, Emily?    First Aired: September 30, 1972
Writers: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Peter Brown, Barbara Barnett, Pay Lysinger

Bob treats a handsome tennis pro who complains that every woman he meets makes a pass at him--including Emily.

4 Mom, I L-L-Love You    First Aired: October 7, 1972
Writers: Dick Clair, Jenna McMahon
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Martha Scott, Marilyn Child, Patricia Smith

Despite the difficulty he has talking to his mother, Bob finally resolves to tell her how much he cares for her.

5 Goodnight, Nancy    First Aired: October 21, 1972
Writer: Susan Silver
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Penny Fuller, Richard Schaal, James B. Sikking, Patricia Smith

Emily is surprised to find herself acting like a typical jealous wife when one of Bob's old girlfriends pays a visit.

6 Come Live With Me    First Aired: October 28, 1972
Writer: Jerry Mayer
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Eugene Troobnik, John Fielder

Emily decides to get involved when Carol has trouble deciding whether to move in with her new boyfriend.

John Fiedler makes his first appearance as the self-effacing Mr. Peterson.

7 Father Knows Worst    First Aired: November 4, 1972
Writers: Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Moosie Drier, Alice Borden

Howard is convinced that he's failed as a father when Howie, Jr., begins spending most of his time with Jerry Robinson.

8 Don't Go to Bed Mad    First Aired: November 11, 1972
Writer: Gene Thompson
Director: Alan Rafkin

The Hartleys spend a sleepless night after they agree not to rest until they've settled a raging dispute over Bob's Monday-night football habit.

The petty annoyances that continually dogged Bob and Emily's domestic life depicted the day-to-day struggles of real-life marriage with perceptive, and always comic, accuracy. The Hartleys were as romantic as any prime-time couple since Rob and Laura Petrie--but that didn't mean that they always had to get along. Come to think of it, Bob and Emily probably aren't all that different from what Rob and Laura might have been like ten years later--the approximate length of time between the debut of The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bob Newhart's premiere in 1972.

9 P-I-L-O-T    First Aired: November 18, 1972
Writers: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Louise Lasser, Patricia Smith, William Redfield

Frustrated by their inability to conceive a child, the Hartleys decide to become adoptive parents.

This uncharacteristic episode is actually a re-edited version of the show's pilot film, which bore very little resemblance to the characters and settings we would come to know in the series. In the original pilot, Bob and Emily managed their apartment complex in addition to their other jobs; Howard Borden hadn't even been invented; and Jerry was a swinging psychologist who shared an office suite with Bob!

"We thought we needed other interests for Bob at home, so we made him manager of a condominium," explained creator Lorenzo Music. But the idea was dropped when CBS executives complained that people wouldn't know what a condo was. "We joked that they were afraid the public might get it confused with something high school boys buy at the drugstore to carry around in their back pockets. And they agreed!"

After the series went into production, new scenes incorporating some of the show's more familiar elements were edited into the original pilot, and some of the existing footage was dropped. For obvious reasons, a more characteristic episode was substituted for the series debut, and this odd hybrid was quietly slipped in during the show's ninth week.

10 Anything Happen While I Was Gone?    First Aired: November 25, 1972
Writer: Martin Cohan
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Star: Elaine Giftos

Jerry announces his engagement to a beautiful but domineering oral hygienist he's just met.

11 I Want to be Alone    First Aired: December 2, 1972
Writer: Jerry Mayer
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Archie Hahn, Bernie Kopell, Alan Hewitt, Patricia Smith

Howard is worried that the Hartleys are splitting up after Bob moves into a hotel room for a few days of peace and quiet.

This episode contains the final appearance of Patricia Smith as Emily's neighbor, Margaret Hoover, a homespun mother of two who was meant to serve as Emily's comic counterpoint--until the writers recognized the character as a needless plot contrivance. "There was so much going on down at the office that we didn't need her," writer Lorenzo Music confessed. "We couldn't get a Rhoda out of it."

12 Bob and Emily and Howard and Carol and Jerry    First Aired: December 9, 1972
Writer: Charlotte Brown
Director: Peter Baldwin

With Emily's help, Carol's momentary infatuation with Howard leads to a romance that ends almost before it begins.

13 I Owe It All to You . . . But Not That Much     First Aired: December 16, 1972
Writer: Martin Cohan
Director: Alan Rafkin

Bob gains a patient but loses a friend when Jerry suddenly decides to become a paying customer.

14 His Busiest Season    First Aired: December 23, 1972
Writers: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Director: Peter Baldwin
Guest Stars: Harvey J. Goldenberg, Florida Friebus, King Moody, Ray Montgomery

Bob foolishly attempts to raise sagging holiday spirits by inviting his group to an impromptu Christmas party at his apartment.

15 Let's Get Away From It Almost    First Aired: January 6, 1973
Writers: Tom Patchett, Jay Tarses
Director: Jay Sandrich
Guest Stars: Chuck McCann, Joyce Van Patten, Allen Garfield

The Hartleys flee the city to get away from it all, only to spend the worst vacation of their life in a rundown ski lodge.

16 The Crash of Twenty-Nine Years Old    First Aired: January 13, 1973
Writer: Charlotte Brown
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Renee Lippin, Jack Bender, Dan Barrows

Depressed by the approach of her twenty-ninth birthday, Carol decides to quit her job and expand her horizons beyond the reception area.

During her three seasons with the series, Charlotte Brown would script some of the show's funniest moments, but her greatest contribution would be the keen insight she brought to the characterizations of the show's women: Emily, Bob's sister, Ellen, and, especially, Carol. In Brown's early scripts, Carol emerges as a vulnerable, impulsive, and painfully sincere young woman. More than any other character, Carol was capable of growth and change; and throughout her long journey of star-crossed romances and her countless attempts to break out of her receptionist's cage, we never stopped rooting for her.

17 The Man With the Golden Wrist    First Aired: January 20, 1973
Writer: Bill Idelson
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Larry Gelman, Mimi Torchin, Michael Lerner

Bob refuses to wear the expensive gold watch Emily gave him for his birthday after he discovers how much she paid for it.

18 The Two Loves of Dr. Hartley    First Aired: January 27, 1973
Writer: Gene Thompson
Director: George Tyne
Guest Star: Emmaline Henry

Emily is more than slightly concerned when one of Bob's patients falls hopelessly in love with him.

19 Not With My Sister You Don't    First Aired: February 3, 1973
Writer: Frank Buxton
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Heather Menzies, Mel Stewart

Howard does his best to hide his swinging lifestyle from his younger sister when she arrives to spend a week in the big city.

20 A Home Is Not Necessarily a House    First Aired: February 10, 1973
Writers: David Davis, Lorenzo Music
Director: Peter Baldwin
Guest Stars: Jenna McMahon, Dick Clair, Petty Palivoda

Howard is crestfallen when Bob and Emily make plans to move into their dream house.

MTM writers Jenna McMahon and Dick Clair make a cameo appearance as the other couple interested in the Hartley's house.

21 Emily, I'm Home--Emily?    First Aired: February 17, 1973
Writer: Martin Cohan
Director: Rick Edelstein
Guest Star: Alma Beltran

Bob feels abandoned at home when Emily begins a full-time job at the Board of Education.

22 You Can't Win 'Em All    First Aired: February 24, 1973
Writer: Bill Idelson
Director: Jerry London
Guest Stars: Vern E. Rowe, Jim Watkins, Larry Gelman

Bob basks in reflected glory when he counsels the Chicago Cubs' star pitcher out of a losing streak.

By the time he signed on as producer of The Bob Newhart Show, Bill Idelson was already a respected practitioner of quality TV comedy. At various times in his career, he had written scripts for such distinguished sitcoms as The Andy Griffith Show, The Odd Couple, M*A*S*H, and The Dick Van Dyke Show--where he also appeared as Sally's boyfriend, Herman Glimscher.

23 Bum Voyage    First Aired: March 3, 1973
Writers: Austin and Irma Kalish
Director: Martin Cohan
Guest Stars: Archie Hahn, Pat McCormick

Bob resists Emily's plans for a two-month cruise because he's convinced that his group couldn't survive that long without him.

24 Who's Been Sleeping on My Couch?    First Aired: March 10, 1973
Writer: Jerry Mayer
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest Stars: Renee Lippin, Herbie Faye

Jerry turns to Bob for solace in the aftermath of another failed romance, but it's a date with Carol that finally sets him straight.


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