The master of dead pan delivery, Bob Newhart had already hit sitcom gold in the 70s with The Bob Newhart Show, endearing the comedian to millions of television viewers. His highly-anticipated return to network television in 1982 proved that his charm hadn’t waned in the slightest, as Newhart became an enormous success in its own right.

In the new show, Newhart played Dick Loudon, an author of do-it-yourself books, who moved from fast-paced New York City to a sleepy rural Vermont town to run a historic inn. Loudon was a mild-mannered, painfully average man who found himself in a place full of eccentric characters and odd happenings.

Dick was accompanied by his lovely wife Joanna (played by Mary Frann) who helped him run the picturesque Stratford Inn. As the seasons progressed, the Loudons spent less time at the Inn, producing and airing a local cable talk show instead.

The characters inhabiting the town were the epitome of quirkiness. They included Stephanie, a disowned rich girl forced to work as a maid at the Inn; George, a dimwitted handyman and Kirk, the biggest liar in the world. Perhaps the most famous and enduring characters on Newhart were Larry, Darryl and Darryl, a trio of backwoodsmen that were seen frequently after the show’s second season. The latter two men never spoke (until the last episode) and Larry always introduced them with a drawling, “Hi, I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”

Thanks to its quirky nature and wonderful ensemble cast, Newhart became one of the most popular sitcoms of the decade. After a successful eight-season run, they finally threw in the towel in 1990, and boy, did they go out with a bang, ending with the same trademark surreal tone that made the show so endearing in the first place.

The episode take place a few years in the future, with the Loudons and their Inn the last remnants of the sleepy town. All the other residents, it turns out, sold their property to a golf course, which has now surrounded the Stratford Inn. At the end of the episode, Dick is struck in the head by a wayward golf ball, then finds himself in bed next to his sleeping wife. When he wakes her up to tell her about the crazy dream he just had, it’s not Mary Frann’s Joanna, but Suzanne Pleshette, who had played his wife Emily in The Bob Newhart Show from the 70s.

The finale was watched by almost 30 million viewers and is widely regarded as one of the most unexpected TV moments of all time. What came as no surprise, however, was Bob Newhart’s unceasing midas touch when it came to television sitcoms. And, because of his enormous talent, we were all the richer.

Were you a fan of Newhart back in the 80s? We’d love to hear your favorite moments from the show in our comments section below as we tip our hats to this endearing and enduring comedic genius.

One Response to “Newhart”

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  1. Gina says:

    I used to watch this show with my parents. I think I’m the only person in the whole world that didn’t like the finale. The whole show was just a dream???
    A particularly funny episode was when the main male characters formed a “tough” gang and had a showdown with another gang of middle-aged punks.

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