The Bob Newhart Show The Complete Third Season

By season three, Bob Newhart felt that his show had found its groove. Or so he recalls in a "making of” featurette, which is the contemporary splash in an otherwise nostalgic collection. Newhart plays psychologist Dr. Robert Hartley, a deadpan, straight-laced individual trying to keep up with the progressive ’70s. The show’s creative team adjusts accordingly as well, altering the opening credits from the previous season so that Hartley’s wife Emily, played by Suzanne Pleshettte, is not waiting at home with dinner while her husband ambles home from work. Instead, Emily also leaves an office, briefcase in hand, to arrive home just after Bob. It’s a slight credit to an often-staid show that some new-fangled movements like women’s lib are addressed in various episodes. The casting and creative consultants also possessed some obvious foresight. Guest stars in season three include Fred Willard in a memorable role as Bob’s sister Ellen’s debonair ex-boyfriend, the scene-stealing John Ritter as an energetic waiter and a pre-WKRP Howard Hesseman as a neurotic patient of Bob’s. As they did in hiring sitcom stalwarts like Bill Daily and Jack Riley for regular roles, the producers nail the casting in lieu of creating a fluff-free show. As Newhart himself says, this show was a comfort to people, a staple of their weeks, along with Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H*, and for those viewers, this set will be as welcoming as a familiar, old blanket. Newhart is an indisputable comic legend and this is certainly a pioneering ensemble in sitcom history but it really should be rated "ages 40 and older.” Plus: Audio commentaries (Fox)