Monday, October 24, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Newhart - Season 6

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, funny situations
Cons: Um, Um…
The Bottom Line:
Return to the inn
More laughs with great characters
Timeless 80’s fun

“I Think I’ll Wait Until the Yelling Stops.”  “Will That Be Before or After Happiness Reigns?”

I keep saying that someday I need to go back and watch more of Bob Newhart’s 1970’s sitcom.  And every time I think that, I get sidetracked by a new season on DVD of Newhart, his wonderful comedy from the 1980’s.  Season 6 is another strong, hilarious season with these characters I love.

If you’ve missed this sitcom, you are really missing out.  Bob Newhart stars as Dick Loudon, do-it-yourself author who runs the Stratford Inn in Vermont along with his wife Joanna (Mary Frann).  Dick also has a local weekly talk show produced by ultra-yuppie want to be Michael Harris (Peter Scolari).  Michael also happens to be dating the Loudon’s maid, spoiled but cut off heiress Stephanie Vanderkellen (Julia Duffy).  Rounding out the staff at the inn is handyman George Utley (Tom Poston), whose family has been taking care of the bed and breakfast for generations.  Then there are the neighbors, who run the Minute Man Café next door – Larry (William Sanderson), his brother Darryl (Tony Papenfuss), and his other brother Darryl (John Volstad).

Over the course of this season, Michael and Stephanie hit a snag in their relationship - they start to feel bored.  And they come up with a surprising way to try to get the spark back.  Larry makes a startling discovery – he’s not the oldest in the family.  Meanwhile, he also takes a vacation and leaves George in charge of the Darryls.  The entire town gets alien fever on Halloween.  George decides to pursue his lifelong dream of being a used car salesman.  Dick gets his dream of working with one of the best illustrators in the how do business while Joanna takes on the job of giving the local history speech.

In other words, it’s a pretty typical season of fun with the gang.  We do get to see more of the townspeople this season, and they are always a delight.  While I complain that most the characters edge toward over the top caricature in the later seasons, they haven’t slid too far in that direction yet, and they are still just delightfully over the top here.

Most of the stories this season center around the main cast and the townspeople with very little time devoted to guests.  Having said that, watch for early acting jobs for Bill Maher and Jason Alexander as guests during the season.

And the laughs!  Many of the episodes can make me smile just thinking about them and the fun we have in the time we spend with the characters.  Of course, it helps that by this point these are old friends.  Granted, they are friends we enjoy because we see them on TV (much like Dick, I’d be annoyed by some of them in real life), but still, it’s hard not to love the characters and enjoy spending time laughing with them.

Naturally, this is another case where the actors and the writers are perfectly in sync.  Everyone know the characters, and they do a brilliant job finding ways to get us to laugh whether it is a new joke or a variation on a running gag.

Season 6 consisted of 24 episodes, and they are preserved here on 3 discs.  There’s nothing in the way of extras, but I will gladly take the episodes as they are.  The episodes are full frame and stereo, but this was the 80’s after all.  Each disc has a disclaimer that the episodes are from the best source material available.  They may not be as sharp as newer shows, but they are certainly watchable.

In fact, I dare any fan of Newhart to find fault with this set.  Season 6 is delightful laughter at its finest.  Pop in a disc, sit back, and enjoy.

Season 6 Episodes:
1. Here’s to You, Mrs. Loudon
2. Prima Darryl
3. Inn This Corner
4. Me and My Gayle
5. Reading, Writing, and Rating Points
6. Vintage Stephanie
7. Take Me to Your Loudon
8. Till Depth Do Us Part, Part One
9. Till Depth Do Us Part, Part Two
10. Telethon Man
11. Laugh at My Wife, Please
12. Support Your Local Shifflett
13. My Three Dads
14. A Friendship That Will Last a Lunchtime
15. Presence of Malice
16. Would You Buy a Used Care from this Handyman?
17. The Buck Stops Here
18. Attention WPIV Shoppers
19. The Big Uneasy
20. Draw Partner
21. A Midseason Night’s Dream
22. Newsstruck
23. The Gleeless Club
24. Courting Disaster

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