Bob Newhart: Button-Down Concert

Comic genius Bob Newhart returns to stand-up for this nostalgic show that is anachronistic and somewhat plain. Among the first comedians to conquer television within the then fledgling sitcom format, Newhart is a beloved fixture in the collective consciousness of a whole generation of fans. It’s his status that sustains him during this "greatest hits” concert filmed in 1995, which finds him running through some of his classic observational bits and one-man sketches that, while admittedly funny, are a tad tame. Newhart is sly in his "School for Rude Bus Drivers” bit and he plays befuddlement perfectly with "King Kong and the New Security Guard.” "Abe Lincoln’s PR Man” is bizarre and inventive, while "Sir Walter Raleigh Explains Tobacco” goes over the otherwise appreciative audience’s heads. Newhart has always played a drunk hilariously and realistically and he doesn’t disappoint in "The Tipsy Accountant’s Retirement Party” and his candidness during "Bob at the Unemployment Office” is amusing. In the lone featurette, "Bob Newhart: Buttoned Down,” Newhart recalls how some of the jokes and bits he told that night were older than some members of the audience, and how gratifying it was for him to discover that his material could stand the test of time. Newhart’s popularity is so enduring, he once held the record for most time spent in the number one and two spots on the Billboard album charts; it was finally broken by Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II. Though it’s true that Newhart’s act is inimitable and entertaining, it’s remarkably clean and straight. However, there’s something slightly dated about this show and its historical value may be lost on younger fans. Plus: Photo gallery. (Fox)