The Bob Newhart Show

This article is about the 1970s TV show. For the 1960s variety show, see The Bob Newhart Show (1961 TV series). For the 1982–1990 show, see Newhart.
The Bob Newhart Show
Created by
Theme music composer
  • Lorenzo Music
  • Henrietta Music
Opening theme "Home to Emily"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 142 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) MTM Enterprises
Distributor Viacom Enterprises
20th Television
Original network CBS
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 16, 1972 (1972-09-16) – April 1, 1978 (1978-04-01)
Followed by Newhart

The Bob Newhart Show is an American sitcom produced by MTM Enterprises that aired on CBS from September 16, 1972, to April 1, 1978, with a total of 142 half-hour episodes spanning over six seasons. Comedian Bob Newhart portrays a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers. The show was filmed before a live audience.


Standing, from left: Howard Borden, Carol Kester, Jerry Robinson; seated: Bob and Emily Hartley

The show centers on 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, although occasionally sarcastic, wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), and their friendly but inept neighbor, airline navigator Howard Borden (Bill Daily). At the medical office where Hartley had his psychology practice are Jerry Robinson, D.D.S. (Peter Bonerz), an orthodontist who also has a practice on the floor, and their receptionist, Carol Kester (Marcia Wallace), as well as a number of other doctors who appear occasionally.

Hartley's three most frequently seen regular patients are the cynical and neurotic Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley), the milquetoast Marine veteran Emile Peterson (John Fiedler), and shy, reserved Lillian Bakerman (Florida Friebus), an elderly lady who spends 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. A frequent running gag on the show is an extension of Newhart's stand-up comedy routines, where Newhart played one side of a telephone conversation, the other side of which is not heard. In a nod to this, for the first two seasons, the episodes opened with Bob answering the telephone by saying "Hello?". Emily routinely acts as straight "man" to dimwitted Howard, and on occasion to Bob.

Opening sequence

The original opening sequence of the show was used during the first two seasons, which begins with a closeup shot of the telephone ringing on Bob's office desk, and then, he answers the telephone by saying "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. In Season 3, the opening credits were changed to a shot of Bob's entrance door, with the sign reading "Group in Session". Bob removes the sign, as he leaves his office. The opening piano riff, played by Russ Freeman, segues into a jazzy, trumpet-heavy instrumental theme tune "Home to Emily", composed by series co-creator Lorenzo Music with his wife Henrietta and performed by Patrick Williams, as numerous brief shots document Bob's journey home from work, ending with a shot of Emily greeting Bob at their apartment. An alternate version of the opening features Emily doing the same thing as Bob's, as she walks outside. A shot of the condo building is also shown. In the series premiere, Bob is talking on the telephone with Mrs. Harold at his office.

As is often the case with location filming, Bob's commute journey was geographically inconsistent. For example, he leaves his office building by heading west toward Michigan Avenue, only to then be seen from below walking east from Michigan Avenue, before strolling south over the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Bob boards a pair of Chicago Transit Authority 6001–6200 class PCC rapid transit cars at a Loop Elevated station, with the train moving from left to right on screen. The next scene shows Bob sitting down and taking his hat off on a 2000-class car, moving from right to left. After that is seen a long shot of a pair of 6000-class cars crossing the Wells Street bridge northbound screen left to right. Finally, Bob leaves the train at Isabella station (now demolished) on the Evanston line (now the Purple Line) – several miles from his condo building in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.

From Season 4 until the end of the series, the opening and closing credits featured a new funk-fusion arrangement of the theme, and showed Bob's morning commute, beginning with Bob and Emily leaving their apartment. Other scenes included Bob walking across a busy street before arriving at the office. In one version, it ends with Bob arriving at the office, greeting Jerry, and then taking an empty coffee mug from Carol. In an alternative version, the sequence ends with both Bob and Jerry arriving at the office and Carol handing them both their mail, only to find that the much larger stack of letters that she originally gave to Jerry was meant for Bob. The sixth and final season's opening version starts Bob and Emily off leaving the new apartment that they moved in during that season's premiere.

In the 1990s, Nick at Nite parodied the opening sequence by adding lyrics to it. The lyrics consisted of the words "Bob Newhart" repeated throughout the echo and drum melody, and finally ending with "Here on Nick at Nite". In 2016, award winning parodist and comedian Cody Marshall recorded a parody of the theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which is titled as "Yo Home to Emily". Also in 2016, Cody Marshall also recorded a parody of the theme song for The Dukes of Hazzard called Good Ol' Boys by Waylon Jennings, which is titled as "He's a Psychologist", which ended with "Here comes my Emily, and then she looked at me. I greeted my wife, and i kissed me when I'm home from work", and then, a kissing sound effect is heard.


Emily listens to Howard in the Hartleys' apartment
Bob (right) congratulates Carol and Larry Bondurant on their marriage


Bob's patients

Bob and Emily's relatives

Neighbors, friends and others

Rimpau Medical Arts Center


Thorndale Beach North condominiums, at 5901 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago's Edgewater community, was used for exterior establishing shots of the Hartleys' apartment building

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


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 season five, 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 1977–78 season. On April 1, 1978, the show broadcast its final episode "Happy Trails to You". It ended its sixth year ranking 53rd.

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".[1] Newhart was nominated for Golden Globes as "Best TV Actor—Musical/Comedy" in 1975 and 1976.[1] 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.[2] TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time listed it as No. 44.[3] In 2007, Time magazine placed the show on its unranked list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".[4] Bravo ranked Bob Hartley 84th on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.[5]

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. In 2005, the TV Land Awards honored The Bob Newhart Show with its Icon Award, presented by Ray Romano.

In 2013, TV Guide ranked the series #49 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[6]

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.

We later see the Hartleys back in their Chicago bedroom in 1990 as Bob wakes up from a dream about running an inn in a strange town in Vermont.

Later appearances by series characters

St. Elsewhere (1985)

Jack Riley reprised his Elliot Carlin role on a 1985 episode of St. Elsewhere and 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. In a nod to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, John Doe Number Six addresses a character played by Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens, which Betty White's character denied.

ALF (1987)

In the episode "Going Out of My Head Over You", Willie visits a psychologist, Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Dykstra, portrayed by Bill Daily. Jack Riley is in the waiting room, apparently portraying Elliot Carlin. Also in this episode, ALF mentions learning about psychology by watching episodes of The Bob Newhart Show.

Newhart (1988 and 1990)

Riley appears in a 1988 episode of Newhart, playing an unnamed character who acts 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 from the 1985 St. Elsewhere, the therapist apologizes for his patient, explaining that it has taken her "years to undo the damage caused by some quack in Chicago."

Later, Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette reprised their roles from the show for the 1990 finale of Newhart, in which it was revealed that the entire Newhart series had been just Bob Hartley's dream. Bob and Emily are shown in a room appearing to be identical to their Chicago apartment bedroom from The Bob Newhart Show.

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. During the course of the show, the characters analyzed Bob's dream from the Newhart finale. At one point Howard 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 Bill Daily as Roger Healey were shown.

Murphy Brown (1994)

Newhart played Bob Hartley on Murphy Brown, in the episode "Anything But Cured" (March 14, 1994) to beg Carol (Marcia Wallace reprising her role from The Bob Newhart Show) to leave her job as Murphy's secretary and come back with him to Chicago.

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?"

George & Leo (1997)

In the 1997 episode, "The Cameo Episode", Bill Daily makes an appearance as "The Pilot". Jack Riley also appeared on this episode, but it's unclear whom he is portraying.

CBS at 75 (2002)

Newhart and Pleshette, as "The Hartleys", were the hosts of a segment of the CBS at 75 broadcast.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox released the first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD in Region 1 in 2005/2006.

On February 3, 2014, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series. They subsequently released The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series on May 27, 2014.[7] The fifth and sixth seasons were later released on DVD in individual sets on February 3, 2015.[8]

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 February 3, 2015
The Complete 6th Season 22 February 3, 2015
The Complete Series 142 May 27, 2014

See also



  1. 1 2 "Awards" on
  2. "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997.
  3. "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. 2002-04-26. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
  4. "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time magazine. September 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  5. "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  6. "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time". TV Guide.
  7. Shout! Provides Box Cover, Exclusive Early Shipping for 'The Complete Series'
  8. Shout! Factory's Release Date, Box Art and More for the Last Two Seasons!
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