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Series / Bob (1992)

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"Well, Johnny, I'd already done The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, so we had a choice of either calling the new show Bob or The Show. I think we made the right call."

Bob Newhart's fourth series and third sitcom, Bob was a 1992–93 CBS series which starred Newhart as Bob McKay, a graphic artist who started out as a comic book artist and currently works at a greeting card company. When Ace Comics contacts him with an offer to revive his 1950s superhero comic Mad Dog, he quits his greeting card job and accepts the job to help relaunch his comic. Unknown to him, however, is that his partner, Harlan Stone, envisions a darker, edgier Mad Dog for the 1990s.

In the second season, Ace Comics went out of business and Bob returned to the greeting card company, with very little of the supporting cast returning.

Not to be confused with the 2012 sitcom ¡Rob!

Bob! Tropes!:

  • '90s Anti-Hero: Bob's new boss Harlan Stone wants him to help reinvent Mad Dog as one of these, complete with a graphic concept drawing of him violently tearing his sidekick Buddy apart. Bob is not impressed, telling Harlan to go to hell when he sees it.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: At the end of "Neighborhood Watch", after an improv sketch meant to inform their new neighbors that they see the husband walking around naked through the window gets too direct, the husband appears to be crying and embarrassed.... but it turns out he's actually cracking up, telling them that he's heard that many times before.
  • Almighty Janitor: After reading the draft of the first issue, Mr. terHorst likes it and the board of directors like it, but he decides to have a focus group read the issue after his shoe shine boy hates it.
    • In "Mad Dog on 34th Street", Noah, the cab driver who drives Bob and Harlan to find the Mad Dog float, is both this and Deadpan Snarker. He gives good advice while driving the cab, with Harlan asking him why he drives a cab when he seems so smart ("somebody's got to do it"), and in the end, he ends up bringing the float back to them.
  • As Himself: "Hey! It's the guy from Cheers!" (A running joke that none of Bob's co-workers knows "Norm's" real name.)
    • Many real-life comic book creators show up in an awards show episode.
  • Assumed Win: In an awards show episode, Brent, the creator of a rival comic book, keeps winning awards while Mad Dog keeps losing. When it's time for the best comic book artist awards, he already goes on stage as the nominees are announced, sure that he'll win, but Bob wins instead.
    • Following the divorce of Sylvia and former head of company Les, Bob gets offered a job as president of the greeting card company. Sylvia's son Pete shows up, assuming he'd get the president job, right after Bob had accepted the job.
  • The Bet: In "The Lost Episode", Bob and Harlan make a bet about the name of the dog who inspired Mad Dog to become a crime fighter, only for Bob's copy of the first issue to be lost and then destroyed (and the first issue only sold nine copies). Throughout the episode, Harlan keeps lowering the bet, from twenty to ten, and when Bob wins the bet, he just gives him five dollars, though Bob is still happy with it.
  • Blatant Lies: Bob and Harlan have a disagreement over the name of the Doberman whose death inspired Mad Dog to become a hero so Bob calls Kaye to check his copy of the first episode and the two bet money on what the name is. From Bob's end of the conversation, it's clear that she can't find the issue, but when he hangs up, Bob unconvincingly tells Harlan that he was right.
  • Brick Joke: In "Kiss and Sell", when Kaye stays at home while Bob goes on a business trip, he has Whitey check on her and he inspects the security system, at one point when the lights are off Whitey asks what would happen if he was a burglar, to which Otto, the cat, attacks him. When Bob comes home early, Bob asks why the security system is off, and Otto attacks him.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Chad constantly flirts with Trisha, with no luck.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In one cold open, Bob and Kaye deal with ants in the house. Later, an ant gets on Kaye while she's holding Bob's copy of the first issue, right when Bob needs her to settle a bet, and she ends up setting it on the stove and accidentally burns it.
  • Christmas Episode: Both seasons had a Christmas episode.
    • "A Christmas Story" has Trisha accepting a dare to steal something at a Christmas party, while Bob and Harlan have to come up with a new story when legal finds that the character in the next issue is exactly the same as the title character in a comic book from the 1950s.
    • "Have Yourself a Married Little Christmas" has Bob convincing Whitey to marry his girlfriend, only to lose the ring after sitting it with donated presents to orphans just before they are wrapped and given to them at a party.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: Downplayed. In the first episode, Bob is annoyed by his bosses demands and when he gets a phone call about a Mad Dog revival, he calls his boss at the greeting card company and promptly quits. When creative differences make it look like he won't allow Ace Comics to revive Mad Dog, he calls back his boss and claims his quitting and choice words were the result of medication - something Kaye also does, as the salary offered to Bob was enough that she could quit her job. After Mad Dog gets canceled, Bob calls his former boss asking if he can go back, and is told he'll think about it. But when he does go back to the greeting card company (the result of that boss losing control of the company), there's no bad blood between him and his co-workers and he even gets hired as president of the company.
  • Crossover Punchline: The last episode has Bob visit the dentist, who ends up abandoning Bob (It Makes Sense in Context), so Bob asks if there's another dentist in the building. Jerry Robinsonshows up and says he'll check on him soon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Irish in the first season and Chris in the second season.
    • Noah (Steven Wright), the taxi driver in "Mad Dog on 34th Street", giving various sarcastic remarks to what Bob and Harlan say. When they arrive in the cab, they ask if he's seen the float, to which he asks "do you want me to follow it?" After giving good advice and Harlan asks why he's a cab driver, he dryly tells them somebody has to do it.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: After the gang sees the Mad Dog float and Chad makes a "I bet you never thought Mad Dog would be this big" and nobody laughs, Albie explains "it implies "big" as in famous, but instead, he's referring to size". When the others still don't laugh, Albie says it must have gone over their heads, before again explaining this joke ("because the float will be over everybody's heads."
  • Downer Ending: The first season finale has the company that owns Ace Comics getting bought out and Mad Dog is immediately canceled and almost everybody on staff loses their job (it's implied that Albie gets to keep his job as a gofer). Bob calls his former boss Les asking if he can go back to the greeting card company, and is just told that he'll think about it (but due to Les losing ownership of the company, Bob will go back in the next episode). Bob and Harlan decide to confront the new owner, who informs them that when he buys out companies he has to fire somebody to show the others who is boss, that he hates comic books, and chose which one to cancel after throwing a dart at names. He gives them a chance to keep their jobs if they can beat him at a game, but while the episode ends before the game does, it's clear that they won't win.
  • Elevator Failure: In one episode, the elevator at the greeting card company stops before it's fully on the floor, requiring patrons to have to climb out of it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: With a mix of Innocently Insensitive. When Bob returns to the greeting card company, he greets four of his former co-workers by the nicknames he'd known them as, only for three of them to no longer go by those nicknames as they are trying to improve themselves (which the nicknames reflected).
  • Episode Title Card: Each episode in the second season had it's title appear in the opening on a greeting card following the series title.
  • Expy: In one episode, Bob is considered for a job working on a comic book adaptation of a Barney expy called Willy Mammoth.
  • Fake Guest Star: Betty White is given "special guest star" credit despite appearing in six of the eight season two episodes.
  • Fanservice: When Bob and Kaye go to a dinner party for Harlan and his girlfriend Shayla, Shayla greets them in her bra and underwear.
  • For the Evulz: When the company that owns Ace Comics gets bought out, Mad Dog is immediately canceled and the staff gets fired. When Bob goes to the new owner to talk him into reconsidering, he learns that the new boss canceled the comic book not because of poor sales but because he figures once he buys a company he has to immediately fire somebody so the rest of the company will know who's boss. Also because he hates comic books and decided on which one to cancel by throwing a dart at a list.
  • Gentle Giant: Whitey is the biggest character in the cast but also one of the nicest characters on the show. In one episode he says that he used to work in security but quit because there were too many killings.
  • George Jetson Job Security: In one episode, Albie gets fired after forgetting to get the last page of the first issue printed. He gets his job back after the public thinks the first issues ending is a cliffhanger and more stores order the second issue.
  • The Ghost: Les Schmidt, Sylvia's ex-husband and former owner of the Schmidt Greeting Card Company.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In one episode, while on the line with Mr. terHorst, Harlan decides that he and Bob should play "good cop bad cop", but Harlan makes Bob be the bad cop, even though Bob wants to be the good cop.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: In "The Man Who Killed Mad Dog", Bob plays film footage of a hearing he had defending his comic book, showing that Bob once had more hair and a goatee.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: One episode reveals that Mad Dog ended its original run after a hearing where Bob tried to defend comic books when one political figure accused comic books of corrupting youth, which resulted in Bob's career being killed. Bob encounters him again and learns that he no longer views comic books as corrupt, as he learned that comic books had become a positive influence on many over time. With Bob set to be interviewed on the news, he invites him to appear with him and recant his previous remarks. But when it's time to start the interview, he goes back to talking about what a bad influence comic books are, though it turns out to be a Jerkass Façade as he felt him and Bob arguing about it on live television is more entertaining than agreeing with each other on television.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Bob asks Harlan to give Trisha a job and he accuses him of doing it out of nepotism, before revealing that he already gave the job to his girlfriend, Shayla.
    • In the awards show episode, Trisha complains about her date, who works for a rival comic book and has been winning many awards, for being self-centered, but then as he makes his acceptance speech humbly thanks Trisha and asks her to take a stand, which she does, before calling him a hypocrite.
    • In the first episode, Kaye gives Bob food substitutes for breakfast, Bob complains about such substitutes. Then he complains that she made him orange juice, saying "you know I like Tang!"
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: In-Universe example: In one episode, it's said that the first issue of Mad Dog only sold nine copies. Bob has one (his prized possession) but it gets caught on fire, and Bob later gets another copy from an obsessed fan in exchange for an autograph. It's also implied that the original run is rare, as in one episode, Chad manages to buy several copies at a yard sale and the staff is excited as if they don't have easy access to the comics (though Bob, as the creator, had copies of all twelve issues).
  • Locked in a Freezer: Sylvia decides that her son Pete needs a woman and invites Pete and the McKayes over in an attempt to set up Pete and Trisha. She ends up locking them outside on the ledge so they can get close, but the door ends up getting stuck right as a storm is starting to happen.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In one episode, the McKays get new neighbors and when Bob looks out his window, he sees that the husband walks around the house naked without closing the window shade. They don't want to directly tell him, so they invite them over and Bob leaves some subtle hints which the husband seemingly does not get. Since Trisha, Albie, and Chad had been taking an improv class, they decide to put on a show for them based on the situation, but end up being too direct on what they're doing. But the husband cracks up, says that many neighbors have told him the same thing before, and admits that he did understand Bob's hints but did not realize he wanted him to stop or cover the windows because Bob did not say so. And then when the group decides to do a different sketch, Albie, who had been out of the room, comes in naked, thinking they were still doing that bit.
  • Newhart Phone Call: Given the star, it's to be expected.
    • A non-phone call example: In "A Christmas Story", after Trisha snuck out of a Christmas party after stealing a spoon, she explains to Bob what happened, but is crying so hard while talking that she's The Unintelligible, but Bob can understand her as if it's no problem and repeats everything she says.
    • George Wendt gets to do one when he appears as himself in "Da Game". After everyone says that he's saying his Saturday Night Live line "da bulls" wrong, he calls Lorne Michaels asking for a copy of one of those sketches - and when told that's not how he says it on the show, he clarifies that that's why he needs a copy.
  • NOT!: During a TV interview where he invited a senator who blacklisted Bob a long time ago but has changed his mind about comic books since, the senator goes back to dismissing the influence of comic books and accuses comics of including pornography, which Bob says is not true "unless you were going to end that with NOT!.
  • Only Sane Man: As with his previous two shows, Newhart surrounded himself with oddballs.
  • Out of Focus: In the first few episodes, Harlan is the most prominent character at the office behind Bob, but halfway through the first season, Harlan gets less screen time in each episode.
    • Also halfway through the first season, the comic book format gets less focus, with many episodes having only one scene taking place at the office.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: In one episode, Pete, tired of being a salesman for the company, tells Bob he'd like to design greeting cards. Bob allows him to make some designs to show him. Trisha later joins Pete and the two make designs together, with Trisha having a desire to design cards but afraid of Nepotism. Trisha sneaks one of her designs with Pete's, and Bob dislikes his designs but likes the one Trisha did, so Pete passes it off as his own. After Chris finds out and confronts him about it, Pete decides to put his salesman skills to good use by claiming he was just pretending to want to be an artist because he knew Trisha wanted to design greeting cards but felt unsure that Bob would really like them, a lie that the two both see through.
    • In the first Christmas episode, Bob and Harlan have to make changes to the next issue after the legal department finds that the villain is exactly similar to the title character from a 1950s comic book. While Bob was a fan of that comic book, he claims that he had completely forgotten about him but Harlan calls him a plagiarist (after all, he got pretty much every detail on the character right).
  • Retool: The most disastrous second-season retool since After M*A*S*H. Despite high praise from critics for the show's first season, Executive Meddling reared its ugly head; the comic book premise was eliminated, 90% of the cast was replaced, the title lost its exclamation mark, and Bob was sent back to his old job at the greeting card company. Not even new co-star Betty White could save this one.
  • Running Gag: Chad often makes flirtatious comments towards Trisha, resulting in him getting locked in the filing cabinet. This is often followed by another character opening the door, seeing him in there without surprise, asking what he's in for this time, and after his answer, shutting the door instead of letting him out.
    • Occasionally, one character will mention a number for something and Bob will correct them. In "The Lost Episode", Harlan says that the first issue of Mad Dog sold only six copies but Bob tells him it was nine copies, and in "Where, Oh Where, Has My Mad Dog Gone?", Trish says that she had worked for Mad Dog for seven months and Bob tells her it was five months.
    • "Da Game" has quite a few running gags. With George Wendt attending the party, Bob's co-workers keep referring to him as "the guy who plays Norm on Cheers". They talk about how they like when he appears on Saturday Night Live and says "da bulls", but whenever George says the line, they tell him that's not how he says it on the show. Otto, the cat, hides from the guest, but whenever they open something (that he could not have realistically gotten into given the circumstances), he runs out and the others say that most of the guests weren't invited.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Spoofed in one episode where Bob meets an obsessive fan and plays a game of Mad Dog Trivia Pursuit that the fan made. The fan is just one piece away from winning, in part because he had gotten every answer right (keeping Bob from getting turns), and knew many small Mad Dog details off-hand that Bob couldn't remember. When, instead of reading the question on the card, he asks a question that he and Harlan had been in disagreement over, and the fan actually doesn't know the answer and is upset over it, despite the fact that he's almost got all the pieces to win. He goes on an "almost" speech ("almost a surgeon... Almost a clown...").
  • Serious Business: When Trisha, Kathy, Chad, and Albie play Mystery Date, Kathy and Albie both take the game really seriously (which Trisha can't believe), leading to them becoming a couple. Kathy nearly breaks up with him when he breaks the rules slightly.
  • Short-Runners
  • Ten Minutes in the Closet: Sylvia tries to set up Pete and Trisha, thinking Pete needs a girlfriend, and ends up locking them out on the outdoor balcony.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: One episode has Mad Dog given a float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which Harlan mistakenly sets loose when he opens the roof that the float is under.
  • Those Two Guys: Chad and Albie.
  • Troubled Production: In-Universe example. Bob and Harlan initially have creative differences which results in Bob almost refusing to let Mad Dog be revived, then they spend the first day on the job having writers block, then they go through many story ideas before one gets approved, the one being approved being based on personal elements of Trisha's life which she doesn't want to be the basis for the story, and then the first issue gets published with the last page missing.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When Bob is given a job interview in consideration of illustrating a comic book for a Barney expy, he is surprised when the actor comes in full costume and acts in character. Trisha comes home unhappy, sees the character, and just casually says hello to him.
  • The Voice: Mr. terHorst, the owner of the company, who talks to the staff via intercom. In one episode, Bob wonders if any of the staff has ever seen him (and points out how absurd it is that he's never seen the man who gave him a five-year contracr).
    • Even when Trisha hooks up with Mr. terHorst in one episode, she never sees him. When they have a date, Mr. terHorst is kept from showing up and has the restaurant staff bring in an intercom so the two can interact on the date.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Most of "Have Yourself a Married Little Chrismtas" is a flashback to the last Christmas when Whitey decided to propose to his girlfriend.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: In the first few episodes, Trisha keeps changing jobs, before getting hired working on the Mad Dog comic book. After the comic gets canceled, she's back to working a different job per episode.
  • Work Com
  • You Didn't Ask: In one episode, Kaye tells Bob they'll be spending their second night apart from each other since they were married, Bob tells her it was the first, she mentions the first was when she was in the hospital giving birth to Trisha, Bob says that he slept in the hospital while she slept, Kaye asks why he didn't tell her and he tells her this.

Alternative Title(s): Bob