‘The Bob Newhart Show’ is One of the Few Classic Sitcoms to Have a Fourth of July Episode

by Jennifer Shea
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While few sitcoms have included the Fourth of July in their plotlines, “The Bob Newhart Show” was an exception. On that show, America’s birthday was worth noting.

In the show’s Fourth of July episode, Dr. Bob Hartley (Bob Newhart) gets roped into hosting a Bicentennial Party on July 4, 1976. His wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) mentions the party to their neighbor Howard (Bill Daly), and Howard offers to host, on one condition: the Hartleys let him borrow all their party supplies. He also suggests making it a costume party.

In the lead-up to the party, Emily and Bob head over to their apartment building’s storage locker in search of their punch bowl and card table. But once there, Emily accidentally locks them in the storage locker. While trapped there, they have some disagreements – Bob refuses to get sentimental over their wedding album, so Emily gives him a hard time about storing all his exercise equipment away – that lead to deeper waters. Eventually, they get into some profound conversations about their marriage and mortality.

As the Hartleys discuss their marriage in the storage locker, the party gets into full swing in Howard’s apartment. One by one, the guests arrive. There’s just one problem: they’ve all decided to dress up as Uncle Sam. (That is, everyone except Bob’s patient Elliot Carlin.)

With the Hartleys supplying all the food and liquor for the party, they can rest assured that their friends will hunt them down sooner or later.

See some images from the episode here:

‘The Bob Newhart Show’ Lasted Six Years

“The Bob Newhart Show” ran from 1972 to 1978. During that time, it followed the misadventures of Hartley, a psychologist whose daily conversations with colleagues, patients, friends and his wife often resulted in funny observations.

In a 2001 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Newhart explained how he got two writers from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to sit down with him and hash out the idea for a new sitcom.

“I hadn’t had much luck with people writing material for me [up until then],” Newhart said. “They would send me stuff, but it just never quite fit.”

Fortunately, the writers he picked this time were very attuned to Newhart’s comedic style, and they came up with the idea to make him a psychologist on the show. That fit very well with Newhart’s reactive approach to comedy.

The next step was to fill out the remaining cast members. And after they’d done that, the rest was television history.

Watch Newhart talk about the creation of “The Bob Newhart Show” here:

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