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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Bob Newhart Show
Season Five: 1976-77



SEASON ONE: 1972-73
SEASON TWO: 1973-74
SEASON THREE: 1974-75
SEASON FOUR: 1975-76
SEASON FIVE: 1976-77
SEASON SIX: 1977-78
CREDITS

1976-77: THE FIFTH SEASON

Year-End Rating: 19.0 (45th place)

Bob Hartley confronts another season of unparalleled comic anxiety in fifth-year stories by Gordon and Lynne Farr, Hugh Wilson, Gary David Goldberg, and Sy Rosen, who is also the season's story consultant. Producers Gordon and Lynne Farr and Michael Zinberg return as custodians of this fine madness, along with executive producers Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses.


97 Enter Mrs. Peeper    First Aired: September 25, 1976
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Stars: Tom Poston, Jean Palmerton, Jay Tarses, Charles Thomas Murphy

Bob encounters an unexpected change in the Peeper when the incorrigible joker adopts a more serious outlook after his second marriage.


98 Caged Fury    First Aired: October 2, 1976
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Star: Will Mackenzie

The Hartleys miss their own bicentennial party after Emily accidentally locks them in the basement storage room.


99 Some of My Best Friends Are . . .    First Aired: October 9, 1976
Writer: Hugh Wilson
Director: Alan Myerson
Guest Star: Leonard Stone

Howard undergoes a behavior-modification treatment to cure his unhealthy dependence on Bob and Emily.

The strange triangle of Bob, Emily, and Howard defied simple description. The perennially jet-lagged navigator was the Hartleys' best friend and neighbor, but also something more--as Bob discovers after one of his colleagues cures Howard's dependency by turning him into a joyless, self-sufficient bore.

Things just aren't the same without Howard around. Finally, Bob and Emily set a trap--with home-cooked mashed potatoes and roast beef as bait--to lure the old Howard back into blissful dependency, having come to the sobering conclusion that they need him as much as he needs them. Howard, the childlike dreamer, filled a void in the childless couple's life that gave the reciprocal devotion they shared an understated, and quite touching, subtext in the rich fabric of this deceptively simple show.


100 Still Crazy After All These Years    First Aired: October 16, 1976
Writers: Pat Jones, Donald Reiker
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Howard Hesseman, Florida Friebus, John Fiedler, Renee Lippin

Bob's group is stunned when Mr. Plager admits that he's a homosexual.


101 The Great Rent Strike    First Aired: October 23, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: John C. Chulay
Guest Star: Jack Riley

Bob organizes a rent strike to protest the abominable conditions in his high-rise, only to discover that Mr. Carlin is the new owner of his building.


102 Et Tu, Carol    First Aired: October 30, 1976
Writer: Gary David Goldberg
Director: Alan Myerson
Guest Stars: Shirley O'Hara, Larry Gelman, Howard Platt

Bob faces the nightmare of adjusting to a new secretary after Carol drops him from her work roster.


103 Send This Boy to Camp    First Aired: November 6, 1976
Writer: David Lloyd
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Stars: Sorrell Booke, Michael LeClair, Tierre Turner

Bob and Jerry plan an exciting camping trip for a pair of orphans, but the foursome never gets any farther than a downtown parking lot.


104 A Crime Most Foul    First Aired: November 13, 1976
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: John C. Chulay
Guest Stars: Oliver Clark, Florida Friebus, John Fiedler

No one is above suspicion when Bob's expensive new tape recorder turns up missing--not even Emily.

Bob explains his obsession to recover the stolen recorder by rationalizing how he never got over the theft of his boyhood harmonica--the one he used when he played "Pop Goes the Weasel," just like Al of the Harmonicats. Bob's rambling autobiographical anecdotes rarely provided any real insight into the character's formative years, but the cockeyed wisdom and slippery irony of these vignettes was the closest we'd come to a definition of the world according to Bob.


105 The Slammer    First Aired: November 20, 1976
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Stars: Tom Poston, Bobby Ramsen, Lucy Lee Flippin, Jean Palmerton, David Himes, Kim O'Brien

A nostalgic visit to their old college bar turns sour when Bob and the Peeper are booked on vice charges by a pair of undercover policewomen.


106 Jerry's Retirement    First Aired: November 27, 1976
Writer: Hugh Wilson
Director: Alan Myerson
Guest Stars: John Randolph, Howard Morris

Bob questions the wisdom of Jerry's sudden decision to quit his practice and live off the profits of his real estate investments.


107 Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson    First Aired: December 4, 1976
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Lucy Landau, Fred D. Scott, Steve Anderson

The newly retired Jerry sets off on a worldwide quest to find his natural parents.


108 Breaking Up Is Hard to Do    First Aired: December 11, 1976
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Stars: John Holland, Martha Scott

Bob is shocked to discover that his parents have separated after forty-seven years of married life.


109 Making Up Is the Thing to Do    First Aired: December 25, 1976
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: Harvey Medlinsky
Guest Stars: Barnard Hughes, Martha Scott, Will Mackenzie

Bob invites his feuding parents to Christmas dinner in the hope that the warm Yuletide spirit will bring the pair back together.


110 Love Is the Blindest    First Aired: January 8, 1977
Writer: Gary David Goldberg
Director: Will Mackenzie
Guest Star: Mary Ann Chinn

Mr. Carlin invents a colorful string of tall tales about himself to impress his love-struck new secretary.


111 The Ironwood Experience    First Aired: January 15, 1977
Writer: Phil Davis
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Star: Max Showalter

Bob's lecture at the Ironwood Institute for Interpersonal Relationships gets off to an unexpected start when the audience arrives in the nude.


112 Of Mice and Men    First Aired: January 22, 1977
Writer: Bruce Kane
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Stars: John Fiedler, Oliver Clark, Betty Kean, Inga Neilsen

Bob invites Emily to participate in a role-playing session with the repressed men in his consciousness-raising group for hen-pecked husbands.


113 Halls of Hartley    First Aired: January 29, 1977
Writer: Michael Zinberg
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Richard Libertini, Craig Wasson, Addison Powell, Tresa Hughes

Fed up with the pressures of urban life, Bob applies for a position on the faculty of a small rural college.


114 The Heartbreak Kidd    First Aired: February 5, 1977
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: Dick Martin
Guest Star: Tovah Feldshuh

An enthusiastic psychology major develops a schoolgirl crush on Bob during her student internship.

Dick Martin began a very successful career as a TV comedy director with this episode, after an auspicious start as one-half of Rowan and Martin, the comedy team that hosted NBC's Laugh-In. He came to the series by way of Newhart, who introduced him to producer Michael Zinberg--with typical understatement--as "a friend of mine who wants to become a director."


115 Death Be My Destiny    First Aired: February 12, 1977
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Stars: Oliver Clark, Lieux Dressler, Tom Patchett

Bob is convinced that he's living on borrowed time after he narrowly escapes death in a freak elevator accident.

Producer Tom Patchett appears in a cameo as Mr. Death.


116 Taxation Without Celebration    First Aired: February 19, 1977
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Stars: Vince Martorano, Will Mackenzie, Drew Michaels

Bob has a choice of honoring the income tax deadline or his anniversary when he discovers that they both fall on the same day.


117 Desperate Sessions    First Aired: February 26, 1977
Writers: Michael Zinberg, Martin Davidson
Director: Dick Martin
Guest Stars: Robert Pine, Walker Edmiston

Bob is held hostage by an affable robber he befriended in the lobby of his bank.


118 The Mentor    First Aired: March 5, 1977
Writer: Gary David Goldberg
Director: Michael Zinberg
Guest Star: Will Mackenzie

Bob inspires Carol's husband to start his own travel agency, never suspecting that Larry would set up shop right outside his office.


119 Shrinking Violence    First Aired: March 12, 1977
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Stars: Robert Ridgely, Florida Friebus, Oliver Clark

When Emily has difficulty venting her anger at a belligerent auto mechanic, Bob decides to show her how it's done.


120 You're Having My Hartley    First Aired: March 19, 1977
Writers: Gordon and Lynne Farr
Director: Peter Bonerz
Guest Stars: Tom Poston, Jean Palmerton, Bobby Ramsen

Bob has barely recovered from Carol's announcement that she's going to have a baby when he finds out that Emily is also expecting a visit from the stork.

This episode was written after Bob announced his intention to retire the series at the end of the fifth year. But by the time it was filmed, the star had decided to return for one final year--and a last-minute rewrite was required to explain away Emily's pregnancy as a dream.

"In the original story, she really was pregnant," recalls writer Lynne Farr. "Bob always said he wouldn't do the show with a baby, but when he announced he wasn't coming back for a sixth year, we decided to have some fun and see how far we could go before he changed his mind." Newhart--who'd long maintained that the Hartleys could get along very nicely without children--cringed at the thought of introducing "baby humor" in the show's final year.

"When Bob first saw the script at the Monday-morning reading, he refused to do it as written--and all of a sudden we didn't have a script," remembers Farr. "We spent a frantic night trying to save the story before we finally just turned the whole thing into a dream. And even after all that, it was actually a pretty good show."

 

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