(Above: Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette. Source: IMDb)
From a 1961-1962 NBC variety series that won an Emmy as best comedy show to his Emmy-winning recurring role as Professor Proton on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, Bob Newhart has endeared himself to TV viewers for six decades. As he turns 90 years old today, The Savvy Screener takes a look at his five TV series over the decades.
Ten years after the series ended, Newhart tried again with a sitcom under the same title. This time, The Bob Newhart Show clicked, running on CBS for 142 episodes over six seasons from 1972 to 1978. Newhart played a Chicago psychologist, Suzanne Pleshette his wife, and Bill Daily their wacky neighbor.
Twenty years after his first series ended, the comic was at it again in another CBS sitcom, Newhart. This time, he played a Vermont innkeeper, with Mary Frann as his sweater-wearing wife, Tom Poston as a hapless handyman…and three brothers named Larry, Darryl and Darryl.
Newhart ran for 184 episodes over eight seasons from 1982 to 1990, but despite its greater longevity, wasn’t nearly as classic as the earlier series. For proof (Spoiler alert!), Newhart’s finale is the show’s best-remembered episode precisely because it provides a direct link back to The Bob Newhart Show.
Here’s the final scene of Newhart’s final episode, “The Last Newhart”:
Thirty years after his first series ended, Newhart returned to CBS yet again with Bob. In this sitcom, he played a cartoonist and Carlene Watkins was his wife, with Poston and future Friends phenom Lisa Kudrow in recurring roles. The show lasted for 33 episodes over two seasons from 1992 to 1993.
Newhart and CBS tried to rekindle the magic one more time some five years later with George & Leo. Newhart and Judd Hirsch played the title in-laws, with Jason Bateman as George’s son. It ran for one 22-episode season in 1997-1998.
Here’s the pilot episode:
Where to watch the shows
You can watch two free episodes of The Bob Newhart Show (1972 version) followed by two free episodes of Newhart every weekday on Decades starting at 3 pm ET. Hulu subscribers can also stream all episodes of The Bob Newhart Show.
And this weekend, during a massive Newhart birthday marathon, Decades will air every episode of Bob. Tune in Saturday, September 7, from 1:30 pm to 8 pm, and Sunday night from 7 pm through 6:30 am the next morning.
The Decades binge, which will also include massive blocks of The Bob Newhart Show (8 pm Saturday to 7 am Sunday) and Newhart (7am to 7 pm Sunday), will be bookended by Newhart appearances on The Dick Cavett Show (1 pm Saturday, 6:30 am Monday).
The final Newhart will air at 6:30 pm Sunday so, if you’d like to see two of television’s greatest episodes in a row, you can then switch over to sister channel MeTV at 7 pm for “Rhoda’s Wedding.”
For the complete Decades binge schedule, visit Decades.com. For a soon-to-change list of where you can see Decades free over the air via antenna, visit the channel’s “Where to Watch” page. Decades is also available via cable and Dish Network.
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