The Bob Newhart Show Season 1 DVD Review

Every sitcom needs that one priceless moment in its first season that's instantly unforgettable. That's the sign you're on to something. That's the something the "Bob Newhart Show" is unfortunately missing. However, it managed to last six years on CBS so it did have something going for it and that was, rather obviously, Bob Newhart himself.

His style of humor is not for everybody. Either you'll enjoy his deadpan approach to comedy or you won't. He always remains monotone when delivering his lines and seems to have all of one facial expression. He's very dry and sarcastic; that's why it's funny. Considering he's playing a psychologist who has to listen to everyone else's problems all day, you just don't expect his demeanor to be like this.

The other characters are just there because they have to be, especially Peter Bonerz (who would go on to direct countless other sitcoms). He plays a dentist, but never seems to have a patient since he's always in Bob's office, which is across from his own. Suzanne Plachette plays Bob's typical sitcom wife.

The first season offers up numerous episodes (24 episodes) with small laughs. There's nothing really laugh-out-loud funny, just countless quips you may have to be listening for to catch. That makes owning these episodes on DVD well worth the price. One of the best from this season is "Come Live with Me," in which Bob manages to talk his secretaries boyfriend into going back to his separated wife. It has a little bit of everything, provides plenty of humor, and is a great introduction to all the characters, even if it was the sixth episode to air. It's not a bad place to start.

Another episode of note is "Don't Go to Bed Mad," a nice look at life inside Bob's apartment with his wife. Not only does it showcase an argument a lot of family's probably go through (which makes it easy to relate to), it's a rare episode where Bob's office doesn't seem to be a huge focus. It has plenty of material for both of the characters too.

If you're not old enough to have seen this show during its initial run on CBS, then things may seem dated to you initially. It's when Newhart has a chance to pick things up and get each episode going that you realize this is a timeless show. The first season offers enough to make it a safe purchase if you've never seen it before, but you may want to try to find some clips of the show's star and make sure his style is something you enjoy. (*** out of *****)

Unfortunately, it seems like no on at Fox shared the enthusiasm for this show. It looks simply awful on DVD, much like a standard cable broadcast running with the enhanced resolution of a DVD. That's not good. Grain and flicker are constant. The color is faded; at times, it almost looks like it was filmed in black and white. Certain scenes are dark and muddy, obscuring the faces of the actors. It looks like not a single minute of restoration was performed here. Fans can only hope some of the later seasons will improve, even if only slightly. (No stars)

Though it's presented in 1.0 mono, the show doesn't sound that bad. Dialogue is clear and free of distortion. There's a slightly scratchy quality, though that's to be expected. As long as you can hear those sarcastic remarks, that's really all that matters here. (***)

There's nothing in the way of extras here. None of the cast could have come back to do a commentary on an episode or two? (No stars)

Even though everything else was skimped on, the set does come packaged well. It all contained on three discs, each double sided and contained in two slim cases. This saves a lot of important shelf space and the jacket that holds them has a nice collage of Newhart's expressions. The back of the two cases provides adequate descriptions of each episode and an airdate. Now if only this much time was spent transferring or restoring the show, fans would be a lot happier.

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