Thanks to a mention by Mark Evanier I was able to tape the PBS AMERICAN MASTERS special on Bob Newhart. It'll probably be repeated at various times in the next few weeks, and if you've ever been a fan of Newhart in any of his incarnations it's well worth watching. Lots of interesting footage of his early stand-up days, his short-lived first two TV shows, well chosen clips from his more successful shows and interviews with Newhart and people he worked with.
As I recall I sort of discovered the major bits of Newhart's career all at once in the early 1980s. When his 1970s show was on, if I ever saw it I was too young to appreciate it, but I remember starting to watch NEWHART when it started in 1982 and I was 12, and really liking it. Around the same time I was listening to the radio shows that ran stand-up and musical comedy on Sunday nights, and whenever they played any of Newhart's 1960s material that was invariably the highlight of that particular hour, and I would tape them off air to listen to over and over. So with those two encounters in mind I was sure to check out THE BOB NEWHART SHOW whenever it came on in syndication (which was rarely at a convienient time, unfortunately. I think it was something like Sunday afternoon for a while. I specificially remember for a while it was on during the day while I was at school, and I was hoping to be able to watch it in the summer, then just before school let out they replaced it).
Hm, just checked and I see that THE BOB NEWHART SHOW has just started to be released on DVD. Damn, that's tempting. The only show I've bought a full season collection of so far is SPORTS NIGHT, but now BOB NEWHART is out, NEWSRADIO is coming out, THE MUPPET SHOW and FRAGGLE ROCK are coming out. Decisions, decisions....
Or maybe I should buy one of the CDs of his stand-up. That's still my favourite Newhart stuff. I can still remember most of it by heart. The TV special had a few good samples, but didn't have a few of my faves. I think the "Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball" is the definitive one ("Three strike and you're our? And three balls... Four balls? Why four, Mr. Doubleday.... Nobody's ever asked you that before?"). Or maybe the introduction of tobacco ("You shred some tobacco... you roll it up... wait, don't tell me Walt, then you stick it in your ear.... oh, between your lips? And then what do you do.... You set fire to it?").
Anyway, the special's definitely worth checking out.