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As mild-mannered psychologist Bob Hartley, 43-year-old Newhart found a sublime character conduit for stone-faced sarcasm that was biting but never malicious. Watch our exclusive interview with Bob Newhart: high bandwidth or low bandwidth Living in a Chicago high-rise with Emily, his wife of three years and a third-grade schoolteacher (played with underrated smartness by Suzanne Pleshette), 40-year-old Bob divides his time equally between happy (but not too happy) domesticity and time at the office, where he employs a feisty and frequently lovelorn receptionist Carol (Marcia Wallace, who later enjoyed a thriving career providing voices for The Simpsons and other animated shows) who also works for Jerry (Peter Bonerz, who became a respected TV director), a bachelor dentist and Bob's best friend. The first season (of six, on CBS until August 1978) offered the same high quality as The Mary Tyler Moore Show (also produced by Moore's MTM Enterprises) and established many of the memorable characters who contributed to the show's enduring greatness. Bill Daily (late of I Dream of Jeannie) would thrive as the Hartley's divorced neighbor Howard (his uninvited "Hi Bob!" intrusions inspired that infamous drinking game), while married neighbor Margaret (Patricia Smith) would disappear by season's end. Among Bob's hilarious group-therapy patients, the miserable misanthrope Mr. Carlin (Jack Riley) was a comedic goldmine as the series progressed, but it's Newhart's own comic genius--including his perfected phone-call routines and deadpan reactions to everyday dilemmas--that remained the show's greatest asset. These 24 first-season episodes are remarkably consistent under the direction (mostly) of sitcom veterans Jay Sandrich and Alan Rafkin, and guest stars include Penny Marshall, Louise Lasser, Allen Garfield, Chuck McCann, and a host of other '70s TV stalwarts, all meshing nicely with one of TV's funniest ensemble casts.

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FX2226921 Bob Newhart Show 1st Season DVD (1972) $19.98