Judge P.S. Colbert has three brothers, and there's not a Larry in the bunch.
"Every comedian I know, including myself, whether they admit it or not, secretly wishes they were as good as Bob Newhart."—Jerry Seinfeld
Trying to settle on a vacation destination? Vermont's quaint and historical Stratford Inn has just opened its doors for another season!
This charming bed and breakfast is nestled in the heart of maple syrup country, perfectly placed for weary travelers just itchin' to get away from the stress and strife of modern city life to enjoy relaxation among bucolic splendors. Your hosts, Dick and Joanna Loudon (themselves a pair of big-city transplants), are not only two of the nicest folks you'll ever meet, but they're fully dedicated to ensuring that your stay will be memorable and pleasurable.
Does Dick (Bob Newhart, Elf) look a tad familiar to you? As the author of several acclaimed How-to books, and the host of Sunday afternoon TV chat show Vermont Today he's become a bit of a local celebrity. Stick around long enough and you may even find him in conference with producer Michael Harris (Peter Scolari, Girls), planning a future show—that is, when Michael isn't canoodling with Stephanie (Julia Duffy, Shameless), the stunningly pretty blonde that doubles as your chef and chambermaid. If you're looking for outdoorsy activities, be sure to hit up handyman George Utley (Tom Poston, Mork And Mindy) for tips on the area's best hunting and fishing spots.
As you might have guessed, the Stratford Inn isn't exactly a hub of frantic activity. The sun and the moon trade places on a daily basis, but beyond that, little changes 'round these parts. Ironically, Newhart: The Complete Third Season heralds the biggest changes made to the series' cast and sets the template for the remainder of its eight-year run: Scolari replaces comic Steven Kampmann, whose character Kirk Devane—a compulsive liar and owner of the struggling Minuteman Café—has left town for good and ceded his business to three other new regulars, a trio of extremely backwoods brothers, most of whom share the same first name.
It's no knock on the supporting cast (who are uniformly excellent) or the crew behind the scenes (ditto) to say that the easiest way to figure out whether or not this set is for you is to determine how you already feel about the man who lends this show his name. I've always had a Pavlovian response to Bob Newhart: he speaks, and I laugh at what he says. He gets tongue-tied and flustered; I snicker as he fumes and stammers. It's fair to say that I've hee-hawed harder at the zany antics of other comedians, but when it comes to keeping me chuckling on a consistent basis, Newhart, that deceptively non-descript fella with the passive-aggressive execution has proven second to none.
I wish I could say the same for this collection of twenty two-episodes on three discs, but the Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is utile at best, and the full-frame visual presentation is too soft and grain-pocked to rate higher than mediocre. If you're dying to see these episodes again, you'll be able to excuse this shoddiness, but if you're looking for the pristine, look elsewhere. Shout! Factory offers this no-frills package at a fairly reasonable price, considering what you get: a make-do presentation of a classic sitcom just starting to hit its stride.
Time check: Just to show you how up to date our man Dick was in 1984, he actually Moonwalks…backwards!
Technically, guilty. Creatively, not. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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