Episodes: 184 (half-hour)
TV show dates: October 25, 1982 — May 21, 1990
Series status: Cancelled/ended
Performers include: Bob Newhart, Mary Frann, Tom Poston, Julia Duffy, Peter Scolari, Steven Kampmann, William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, John Voldstad, and Jennifer Holmes.
TV show description: A sitcom about “how-to” author and innkeeper Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart), his wife Joanna (Mary Frann) and a wacky group of local area residents. The Vermont townspeople include heiress and maid Stephanie Vanderkellen (Julia Duffy), handyman George Utley (Tom Poston), TV producer Michael Harris (Peter Scolari) and three strange woodsmen named Larry, Darryl and Darryl (William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, and John Voldstad).
Episode 184 — The Last Newhart
The episode opens on a town meeting that is interrupted by a Japanese businessman who wants to buy the town and convert it into a golf resort. Everyone quickly agrees to sell their homes except Dick and Joanna. Before they leave town, all of many of the town residents stop by the inn to say a warm goodbye to the Loudons.
Five years later, the Loudons still run the inn which is often pelted by golf balls from the surrounding golf course. Joanna is dressed as a geisha and the new handyman and maid are even less helpful than George and Stephanie were.
The townspeople return to visit the Loudons and they’re all still strange and wealthy. Michael and Stephanie have a daughter who is the spitting image of the vapid duo. Larry, Darryl and Darryl have all married tacky Long Island ladies who talk incessantly — so much so that the two Darryls yell “Quiet!” (the only time the two have spoken). The townspeople decide to stay at the inn forever and Dick runs to the door to escape. He yells “You’re all crazy!” and then is hit in the temple by a wayward golf ball. The sound of the golf ball echos and the screen goes black.
We hear Dick say “Ow!” just before he turns on a bedroom light. The studio audience goes wild as they realize that he’s in the old bedroom set from The Bob Newhart Show and the woman he’s talking to is Emily Hartley (Suzanne Pleshette). The entire series has been a dream of Dr. Bob Hartley. Before going back to sleep, he suggests that Emily wear more sweaters (like Joanna Loudon). After the lights go out, a bit of the Bob Newhart Show theme is played (this has been edited out in syndication).
First aired: May 21, 1990.
What happened next?
On November 23, 1991, the cast of The Bob Newhart Show came together for a 19th anniversary reunion. The special opens on the final scene of Newhart, as Bob wakes up from his dream. For the rest of the hour, Bob is upset about the dream and talks to his wife and friends about it at his office. They all recall past events (clips) and give little comfort. At the end, they decide to go out for lunch together and all but Bob fit into an elevator. When the next elevator arrives, Larry, Darryl and Darryl are inside fixing it. Bob quickly takes the stairs.
On May 14, 1997, ABC aired the series finale of Coach. In the episode, Hayden (Craig T. Nelson) brings Christine (Shelley Fabares) to his Minnesota cabin and find that three strange woodsmen named Larry, Darryl, and Darryl have taken up squatters rights. As the trio leave, Larry asks, “Point of Clarification: Can we just hang around and occasionally pop over?” When Hayden says that they can’t, Larry tells the Darryls, “So much for lightning striking twice.” The reason behind the cameo? Executive producer Barry Kemp created both Newhart and Coach.
In the fall of 1997, Newhart co-starred with Judd Hirsch (Taxi, Dear John) in the CBS comedy George & Leo. CBS aired the eighth episode, entitled “The Cameo Episode,” on November 3, 1997. It featured cameos by 18 former castmates of Newhart and Hirsch. Six from Newhart took part. Scolari played an idiosyncratic psychologist who is married to a self-involved Duffy. Poston played a policeman who stopped Leo (Hirsch) from running an illegal taxi service. At the end of the episode, George (Newhart) and Leo are eating in George’s son’s restaurant and discussing the odd day. George leaves the room briefly and three strange woodsmen enter (Sanderson, Papenfuss, and Voldstad). Leo tells them the restaurant is closed and they leave. When George asks who was at the door, Leo responds “Nobody I know.”
On November 2, 2003, Newhart and Pleshette took part in the CBS at 75 special, appearing onstage in a bed, evoking the famous finale.
Following the May 24, 2010 finale of Lost, ABC aired the Jimmy Kimmel Live: Aloha to Lost special. As part of the show, Kimmel presented three alternate finales that had been rejected by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. One echoed the Newhart finale with Newhart waking up next to Evangeline Lilly. Both he and Lilly storm off the set in disgust, leaving the producers to think of another finale idea.
Behind the Scenes
|•||It seems that both Newhart’s real life wife Virginia and the show’s writers independently came up with the idea for the series ending twist. In 2005, the episode was named by TV Guide as the most unexpected moment in television history.|
|•||During the finale’s closing credits, we see the clips of the Newhart cast taking their final bows, singing For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, cutting a celebration cake, and waving goodbye.|
|•||Each show ends with the MTM production company’s cat logo (a take-off of the old MGM lion logo). Rather than the cat’s voice, you can usually hear Newhart say “meow.” In the final episode, this is replaced by the two Darryls shouting “Quiet!”|
|•||In 1998, Frann passed away unexpectedly in her sleep due to heart failure. Frann was active in various charities and, the night before she died, was working with homeless women at the Los Angeles Mission.
Her close friend and fellow Celebrity Action Council member Meredith MacRae said, “Mary was not a star on a pedestal. She really listened to these troubled women and would candidly share her own struggles. She recruited dentists for them, threw them baby showers – and never with a reporter or camera crew to witness it. She truly gave of herself, and we honor her by making sure her work continues”.
|•||Poston passed away on April 30, 2007 from resperatory failure. He had been married to Bob Newhart Show star Pleshette since 2001.|
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