After three seasons of intense therapy, Judge Dennis Prince still wakes up screaming about grotesquely flowered wallpaper in a nightmarish kitchen set.
Our reviews of The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete First Season (published May 11th, 2005), The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Second Season (published March 15th, 2006), and The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Fourth Season (published October 4th, 2006) are also available.
"When we started season three we had kinda fallen into our groove."—Bob Newhart
While you could confidently state that the third season of The Bob Newhart Show wasn't much different from the first two, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. The dry humor that made the show a hit at the outset was carefully preserved and nurtured throughout the show's run, yet, during the third year, the characters began to assert themselves in subtle yet significant new ways. I'm OK. You're OK. I'm not so sure about some of these folks, however.
Facts of the Case
The steady foot traffic into and out of Dr. Robert A. Hartley's (Bob Newhart) Suite 715 office means there are plenty of folks in the Chicago area in need of some psychological assistance. And while the seemingly unflappable Dr. Hartley dutifully listens to his patients' troubles and dispenses astute advice, he, too, harbors a certain amount of…well…let's just call them "personal peccadilloes." His faithful wife, Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), continues to pledge her undying support to Bob though, of late, she's finding some feelings of repression, maybe even borderline resentment, in her allegiance to her man. Emily's learned that the traditional wife role she's accepted doesn't always satisfy her soul, much to Bob's stifled chagrin. Next-door, eligible bachelor Howard (Bill Daly) is busying himself with his latest love trifle when he's not flying the friendly skies or bumbling through his day-to-day affairs. Down at the office, dentist Jerry (Peter Bonerz) and secretary Carol (Marcia Wallace) keep the witty banter and unsolicited advice flowing Bob's way. It's all just another day in the generally well-adjusted life of a professional psychologist.
The Bob Newhart Show maintained its strong audience base as it opened its third season on the air. Still one of the commanding shows of CBS's Saturday night lineup, faithful viewers began to anticipate the show's jazzy theme in follow up to the metropolitan strains of the Mary Tyler Moore end titles (and that infectiously cute "mew" from the MTM kitten). The ensemble cast, which gelled so well during the second season, was now a veteran troupe of characters who, supported by an increasingly confident and intuitive team of writers and directors, kept audiences comfortably in their easy chairs in preference to a night on the town.
Given the success of the prior two seasons' release to DVD, this third installment set include the following episodes, originally aired between 1974 and 1975:
Disc Three, Side A:
Disc Three, Side B:
As with the previous full-season disc sets, this new third season set is presented in the expected 4:3 full-frame format, preserving the original televised aspect ratio (which looks rather nutty should you try to stretch it for 16x9 display). The source material is generally clean yet certainly hasn't undergone a restoration effort. You'll enjoy the original texture of the broadcast material (and many folks do enjoy this authentic presentation, warts and all) though the color is a bit trumped up. The detail level is quite nice and you'll see that the digital medium gives a good look at the fine textures of the fashions of the day, too. The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital Mono mix that plays just fine with only a few occasions of any noticeable hiss. It's a vintage mid-70s presentation and should be welcomed as such.
Likely responding to favorable reviews of the second season release and its complement of enjoyable extra features, Fox has again delivered bonus material here. It begins with an excellent assortment of commentary tracks that grace five of the episodes. Bob Newhart speaks solo in one of the five and is joined by the likes of Peter Bonerz, Fred Willard, and the now-legendary James L. Burrows in others. These tracks are well presented as Newhart and others provide their insight into not only the show itself but also the various ways the television business has changed dramatically over the past three-plus decades. In particular, Burrows laments the lack of good writers these days and notes how the excellent scripts for The Bob Newhart Show have kept the show fresh even today—clothing and decor notwithstanding. Also on board is a new 9-minute featurette, "Finding Their Groove," which features current interview excerpts with Newhart as he discusses the success factors of Season Three. While this collection of features doesn't compare to the in-your-face extras given some blockbuster films, it's high quality bonus content nevertheless.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
To complain about this set would only betray an underlying stigma of developmental troubles, likely brought on by overbearing parents and an apathetic social system.
We'll have none of that here.
The Bob Newhart Show—The Complete Third Season is another welcome release from Fox, and while entertaining us thoroughly, likewise whets our appetite for the next season's release to DVD.
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