The Good

Bob Newhart and the cast of this show are superb.

The Bad

I wish some of the featurette footage had more perspective from the cast members.

Bob Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season sees Dr. Robert Hartley (Bob Newhart) dealing the many situations that comprise his life. Whether he is switching places with his wife, getting drunk with the guys, or administering advice to his patients, Newhart is always where he needs to be in terms of delivery and tone. In fact, what really adds to his performance is the fact that he doesn't seem like he is performing at all. Dr. Robert Hartley moves through situation after situation, whether he's looking for a baby-sitter for his son (The Boy Next Door), or Emily is having problems of her own (A Matter of Vice-Principal), or Robert's interaction with his friends (Peeper-Two), there is never a moment where Newhart does anything with the Hartley character that doesn't seem genuine.

It is because of this that The Bob Newhart Show has endured for as long as it has, and probably also accounts for why Newhart is as loved as he is.

Features

Commentary Tracks

They have put a decent amount of audio tracks on this DVD set. There is one for "The Longest Good-Bye" with a commentary track by Bob Newhart, Director James Burrows, Suzanne Pleshette and guest star Tom Poston. There is another track on "Who is Mr. X?" with Newhart and Marcia Wallace. On "Over the River and Through the Woods" we get Newhart, Burrows and Jack Riley. Lastly, we get an audio track on "Guaranteed Not to Shrink" with Newhart, Burrows, Pleshette and Wallace. This is the track I chose to listen to and I think they have too many people on it. They are all laughing and having fun, which isn't bad, but they don't seem to talk about much. When they do, they discuss working a little bit on today's shows, craft services on those sets, the fact that Hartley's patients never got better, and the physical mechanics of acting in sitcoms.

Second Family

An interesting featurette in which Bob Newhart discusses playing drunk people, as well as what are some of his favorite shows from this series. Then, he seems to get down to the brass tacks of what this featurette is supposed to be about, which is that due to the hours he had to put in working on this show, the cast ended up becoming like a second family. He talks about the environment that created and how it obviously effected their performances.

Gag Reel

A very vintage gag reel but I actually liked this better because of how it was edited. Rather than just jumbling together a bunch of clips to show us the actor's mistakes, they really gave us time to see the before, during, and after of a flubbed line. Not that there is some art to that, but too many times it seems like these things are cut too quickly, without giving any thought to who is watching them. As a result, the comedy doesn't play as funny as it should.

Video

Full Frame - 1.33:1. I have always appreciated the look of this show. I have to think that it was shot on film. If so, that could explain why this show seems richer (not better) than sitcoms that are shot on videotape. There is something about the look of film that makes it feel like we aren't on a set. As if we have captured Bob Newhart and his team in an almost documentary-like sense. This carries over throughout all the discs in this set.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English Mono. Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. I don't recall having to turn any of the other seasons of this show up as loud as I did for this fourth one. I can't say for certain exactly how loud I had to go, but I seem to recall that it was at least three quarters of the way up on the audio bar. Once I did this everything was fine, I just wish that I had a better system to be able to test the audio on. As I only have one speaker on my TV, I seem to think that that's why I turned everything up as loud as I did.

Package

The creators of this DVD have gone in a very comical, almost 1980s route with the artwork they have employed on this cover box. It is mustard yellow, with a cartoonish version of Newhart's body and his real head photoshopped onto it . Other members of the cast peek their heads inside his patient room, and they look crazier than most of his patients. The back cover serves up more of the cartoon look (with the city serving as the animated background), some pictures from the show, a description of this fourth season, a Special Features listing, and some technical specs. Two slim cases house the three discs in this set (all of which have the same front cover previously described), and on the backs of those covers they list out all the episodes, what they are about, and where the Special Features are.

Final Word

I just find that this show works for me.Bob Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season isn't too much different than the other seasons, but there was a vibe between all the actors where it seems like they were really on the same page. One can see that there was a shorthand between the performers, and that they were all there to be in service of the material. It was like all the performers saw this show as way for them to stand out, without having to upstage one another or do things to draw attention to themselves. The fact that Dr. Robert Hartley was so deadpan anyway, I am sure that guest stars loved working on this show because it gave them a chance to shine.

Overall, if you have been collecting this show on DVD, or you are a fan, you should certainly own Bob Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season.

The Bob Newhart Show was released .