Dry By Design
I have always been a big fan of Bob Newhart. In fact, he is the very first comedian that I specifically remember breaking down why I find him funny and implementing my findings into my humoristic repertoire to the point where it is still a part of my personality to this very day.
My favorite thing that he used to do that impressed me so much was his one-sided conversations. He was the first comedian that I saw who would add the subtleties to a fake phone call and did more than just deliver his line. No, he would have the unheard person on the other end cut him off or throw in an unexpected "what?"
Though I would say that Newhart is a brilliant man, he's never been one to exude all that much energy. His dry sense of humor made this episode seem slow at time but not to the point where I'd consider it to be a flaw. No, this was a show done at Newhart's place, and they did a pretty good job.
All of that said, time alone has made these old episodes seem slower. The added slowness from Bob Newhart's pace may not be a flaw, but it's enough to lower my rating to the better side of average. With that, it's time to share what I saw as I give you...
The Wicker Breaker:
The show starts by making fun of NBC's current schedule of throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks brand of programming. Their new big plan is a prime time show called Pink Ladies and Carl, where Gilda and Larraine make a horrible attempt to portray Chinese women as they play sidekicks to Carl Sagan in a show that I'd almost consider The Cosmos meets Hee-Haw. The sketch ends with the two girls offensively announce with horrible accents, "Live from New York..."
Bob Newhart then opens the show with a monolog/routine about just how lame television used to be in the early days of broadcasting.
The Dating Zone is a parody of The Dating Game with three return characters from episodes past. Bob Newhart plays the contestant who gets to pick only he turns out to be a married man on the way home with groceries in hand who somehow ended up on the show. This leads to a reveal that we are now in The Twilight Zone before the game show continues on with Newhart reading prewritten questions that all get a crazy response. Also, I'm not sure if it was part of the joke, but Newhart's character's name was Don Johnson.
The Amazing Rhythm Aces then hit the stage to perform two songs back to back. They start with Who Will The Next Fool Be followed by Third Rate Romance.
Once again, Jane and Bill anchor the news in a week good enough to only require one special guest who happens to be Al Franken with an update on the Al Franken Decade update.
This is followed by a sketch where a soldier dies in a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. The soldier's dying request is for his captain to write his mom a note to inform that he died honorably and doesn't regret his fate. Newhart plays the captain, who gets stuck in a loop of procrastination. Days pass, then months pass until it becomes two years later and Newhart is still making lame excuses right up until the war is over. Then he gets a visit from the deceased soldier's mom. He tries to keep the lie going by claiming that the soldier is still alive and kicking and is just a horrible son and that he'd have a conversation with him later and scold him for not writing home.
Bruce Cockburn then hits the stage to perform Wondering Where The Lions Are.
Dave's Variety Store is a sketch where Newhart is the shopkeeper for what looks like a corner store that sells everything under the sun. Customer after customer come in each with a stranger request than the last. They ask for bizarre products as if they are everyday items and Newhart has everything in inventory from a pink balloon filled with pretzels to the nephew of somebody great (I didn't recognize the name, so I didn't note it especially since it had something to do with sports.)
Mr. Bill then serves time in Sing Sing after his court case from a few weeks ago.
Newhart and Jane are at dinner when he brings up the idea of marriage even though they've only been on a few dates. Jane gets nervous that they are rushing into things and after a little bit of prying she announces that she's also ashamed that she used to be fat. Newhart takes this fine at first until he sees her pictures. This is when he goes from suggesting she eat more than salad to watching everything that she eats.
Bob Newhart then closes the show by thanking the crowd and saying his goodnights.
Even though Newhart's dry delivery didn't induce an out loud laugh, this episode was successful in getting several audible chuckles from more than just these favorite moments. First, I loved the David's Variety Store sketch because I'm a fan of the nonchalant reactions to even the craziest of requests. Next, I liked The Dating Zone sketch because I was a fan of both The Dating Game and The Twilight Zone when I was a kid. Finally, I was a fan of the Civil War captain who procrastinates writing a letter because I've been in that boat many times and it was fun to see how it played out.