tek's rating: ½

Newhart, CBS
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Bob Newhart played Dick Loudon, a "how-to" book writer who moved from New York City to a small town in Vermont, to run the Stratford Inn with his wife, Joanna (who we liked). There were a lot of quirky characters in the town. In the first season, there was an heiress named Leslie Vanderkellen, who worked as a maid at the inn, wanting to see what it was like to be normal. She was probably the least quirky character on the show... actually rather bland, and I don't remember her well at all. But in the second season, she was replaced by her cousin, Stephanie Vanderkellen, who was funnier than Leslie, but not nearly as nice. She was basically a spoiled rich girl who didn't care about much of anyone but herself. But she was cut off by her parents, so she had to take a job as a maid at the Stratford, to support herself. But she didn't do a very good job, as she had no interest in work. Also in the first season there was a chronic liar named Kirk Devane, who ran the Minuteman Cafe, across the street from the Stratford. He had a romantic interest in Leslie, but I don't recall if that went anywhere. I guess he left after two seasons, but I don't remember him being around longer than Leslie. There was also a handyman at the inn named George Utley, who was... I'm not sure what to say. I recall him being nice enough, but a bit daft. He was amusing, anyway, but in a more subtle way than most of the townsfolk, I thought. The most interesting and amusing characters on the show, I always thought, were woodsmen named Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl. (The two Darryls never spoke, but Larry seemed to understand what they were saying, anyway.) In season three, they took over the Minuteman Cafe. In the second season, Dick began hosting a talk show called "Vermont Today," which was produced by a guy named Michael Harris. He was about as self-centered as Stephanie, so of course the two of them eventually started dating (and were later married). A few of the other townsfolk included police chief Shifflett, mayor Chester Wanamaker, and Chester's best friend, Jim Dixon. I guess that's about all the characters I remember.

Um, so anyway... I always thought it was a funny show, and the cast was really good (especially Bob Newhart, because I mean... it's Bob Newhart). You really can't help but sympathize with Dick, being surrounded by such strange people. It's kind of interesting, I normally really like quirky shows with quirky small towns filled with quirky characters, but this is almost like a spoof of quirky shows, because it's as if Dick were a person from the real world who had to live in a quirky TV town... and characters who are fun to watch on TV can be maddening to actually live amongst. Which makes the twist at the end of the series finale all the better. I won't spoil it, but if you don't know about it, it's practically impossible to go to a website about the show without being spoiled. But it is considered one of the best series finales ever, and rightly so. It does sort of hinge on knowing something about another show, which was a bit before my time, but I knew enough to get the joke, anyway. And it was freaking awesome. Anyway... I can't think what else to say about the show, except that I always liked the theme music, which was composed by Henry Mancini. Oh yeah, and I guess the show kind of reminded me of Fawlty Towers, except that I saw this before I ever saw any of that. (And Basil Fawlty was definitely more manic than Dick Loudon, so whatever.)


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