I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Bob Newhart Show
Season One: 1972-73
THE FIRST SEASON
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.
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
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.
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."
Bob treats a handsome tennis pro who complains that every woman he
meets makes a pass at him--including Emily.
Despite the difficulty he has talking to his mother, Bob finally resolves
to tell her how much he cares for her.
Emily is surprised to find herself acting like a typical jealous wife
when one of Bob's old girlfriends pays a visit.
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.
Howard is convinced that he's failed as a father when Howie, Jr., begins
spending most of his time with Jerry Robinson.
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.
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.
Jerry announces his engagement to a beautiful but domineering oral
hygienist he's just met.
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."
With Emily's help, Carol's momentary infatuation with Howard leads
to a romance that ends almost before it begins.
Bob gains a patient but loses a friend when Jerry suddenly decides
to become a paying customer.
Bob foolishly attempts to raise sagging holiday spirits by inviting
his group to an impromptu Christmas party at his apartment.
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.
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.
Bob refuses to wear the expensive gold watch Emily gave him for his
birthday after he discovers how much she paid for it.
Emily is more than slightly concerned when one of Bob's patients falls
hopelessly in love with him.
Howard does his best to hide his swinging lifestyle from his younger
sister when she arrives to spend a week in the big city.
Howard is crestfallen when Bob and Emily make plans to move into their
MTM writers Jenna McMahon and Dick Clair make a cameo appearance as
the other couple interested in the Hartley's house.
Bob feels abandoned at home when Emily begins a full-time job at the
Board of Education.
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.
Bob resists Emily's plans for a two-month cruise because he's convinced
that his group couldn't survive that long without him.
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.