DVD Review: Newhart (The Complete Fourth Season)

After three seasons of adjusting, Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) returned to the Stratford Inn without any major changes. He had the same wife (Mary Frann). The Inn’s staff once more featured the spacey George (Tom Poston) and stuck up Stephanie (Julia Duffy). Michael (Peter Scolari) was still the self-absorbed producer that only Stephanie can love. Larry, Darryl and Darryl (William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss, and John Voldstad) were running the Minuteman Café. Dick’s kept busy by running the inn, writing books and hosting Vermont Today. Plus there was a chance of being pulled into local politics and small town madness. This really opens up the show for the situations to mine for comedy. The audience didn’t have to adjust. They could just sit back and enjoy the quirky small town life in Vermont on Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season.

“Pirate Pete” makes him substitute for the guy who hosts the children’s cartoon show. Dick can’t pitch the overpriced pirate items being sold to the kids and the violent cartoons. He doesn’t do a fine job for the ailing pirate host and things might end with him walking the plank. “The Way We Ought to Be” causes strife between Michael and Stephanie the turns the TV studio into a war room. “Summa Cum Larry” puts Dick in a sticky situation when he has to lie to Darryl and Darryl about what Larry’s really doing a night. There’s quite a bit of expressive mime work from the silent brothers as they hunt for the truth. “Candidate Larry” has the talkative one run for the mayor’s office. He wants to save the forest where he communed and consumed nature. “Locks, Stocks, and Noodlehead” lets Stephanie’s dad (Dune‘s Jose Ferrer) drop by for a visit. He’s going through a bit of a crisis.

“The Geezers in the Band” is great script from David Mirkin (The Simpsons). Dick’s old jazz combo is supposed to reunite for a wild weekend. They were out of control back in college. Things don’t get that tamedSorrell Booke (Dukes of Hazzard) plays the pal who isn’t nicknamed Hog although everyone thinks he’s Hog. “The Shape of Things” lets Joanna and Stephanie expand their morning aerobics to opening up a club. Stephanie goes a little crazy when she “creates” Stephanizes. “Write to Privacy” cracks open the lock on Michael’s diary. Everyone gets furious. Dick is mostly upset with the guests Michael wants to inflict on his show after a out of town talent search. “Still the Beavers” has George break from the local lodge to form his own club. “Larry’s Dead, Long Live Larry” changes the way Larry approaches life. He swears Dick saved him from a near fatal electrical accident and owes Dick a lot. “The Stratford Horror Picture Show” brings out the ghosts at the Inn. Or is the place really that haunted. Dick needs to call Scooby-Doo. “The Snowmen Cometh” puts the winter festival in danger since there’s not a flake of snow anywhere. Can they get a snow dancer to bring the white stuff?

“Will the Real Dick Loudon Please Shut Up?” gives Dick a chance to star in a home video of his book on how to be your own plumber. But he’s just not what the director wants on the screen. Dick has to fight to play himself. “Dwight Schmidlapp Is Not a Quitter” places Dick in a sticky situation when he writes a book under a fake name and can’t get it published. While this seems like a joke, it’s all about your name. J.K. Rowling only leaked out her books written under fake names when they weren’t selling. “Torn Between Three Brothers” turns Larry, Darryl and Darryl against each other when they hire a waitress. The bigger strife is when George goes nuts when the TV station stops airing Barnaby Jones. How dare they! “Replaceable You” puts the fear in Michael when a substitute does his job at the station. “Pre-Nups” wraps up the season with Stephanie’s family wanting Michael sign a pre-nuptial. He doesn’t want to sign anything. Is it because he wants her money?

Newhart has aged well. There are times when I can’t debate where it stands compared to The Bob Newhart Show. They’re good in their own way and better than so many other shows. Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season finally gets to play without establishing new regular characters or giving Dick another occupation. The TV station does dominate the action, but the place is so small time that it doesn’t turn into recycled Hollywood showbiz tales. It’s feels natural that Dick has so many jobs yet doesn’t seem too overburdened. While the hotel and the guests aren’t the primary drivers to the story, there’s still folks checking into to the Inn to incite laughter.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the folksy charm of the Strafford Inn. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The sound also has a warmth to it. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

No bonus features.

Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season allows the comic misadventures in Vermont to flourish. No matter which job Dick is performing, something won’t be going smoothly. Halfway through its season run, Newhart is an elite sitcom.

Shout! Factory presents Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season. Starring: Bob Newhart, Mary Frann, Tom Poston, Julia Duffy and Peter Scolari . Boxset Contents: 24 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: August 19, 2014.

Tags: ,