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Series / Newhart

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Bob Newhart's second classic sitcom (following The Bob Newhart Show), which aired for eight seasons (1982–90) on CBS.

Newhart starred as Dick Loudon, a successful author of do-it-yourself and travel books, who along with his wife Joanna (Mary Frann) decided to move from New York City to a small town in Vermont, where they purchased and ran the 200-year-old Stratford Inn. Most of the comedy stemmed from Only Sane Man Dick's interactions with the various Eccentric Townsfolk, including George Utley (Tom Poston), the inn's addle-headed handyman; Kirk Devane (Steven Kampmann), a compulsive liar and the owner of the nearby Minuteman Café; and Leslie Vanderkellen (Jennifer Holmes), a wealthy heiress and Dartmouth student who worked as a maid for the inn.

The first season aired to solid if unsensational ratings, but at first reviewers didn't think the show had much going for it aside from Newhart himself. Newhart and series creator/executive producer Barry Kemp weren't completely happy either, so when Newhart was renewed for a second season, it was retooled somewhat: the show switched from harsh videotape to a warmer film production; Leslie was replaced as maid with her bitchy, self-absorbed cousin Stephanie (Julia Duffy); and, toward the end of Season 2, Dick was persuaded to host a local TV talk show, Vermont Today. Dick's involvement with the show and its producer, the vapid but manic Michael Harris (Peter Scolari), became a whole new source of humor, as did Michael's budding romance with Stephanie. Adding to the fun was a trio of zany backwoods brothers who purchased the Minuteman Café from Kirk: Larry (William Sanderson), his brother Darryl (Tony Papenfuss), and his other brother Darryl (John Voldstad); Larry did all of the talking, because neither of the Darryls ever spoke.note 

In addition to being a consistently solid ratings performer (spending its first six seasons in the Nielsen Top 30, with four of those in the Top 20, peaking at #12 in its first and fifth seasons), Newhart earned plenty of critical acclaim and a number of Emmy Award nominations. And the show will be forever remembered for the ending of its final episode, which revealed its entire eight-year run to have been an extended nightmare dreamt by Dr. Bob Hartley of The Bob Newhart Show (to which this series might therefore be retroactively viewed as a kind of Stealth Sequel). Some have also seen Newhart, with its premise of a straitlaced urban protagonist finding himself a Fish out of Water in a frequently-absurdist version of rural America, as an '80s answer to Green Acres.

"Hi, I'm Larry. These are my tropes, and these are my other tropes. I understand that you want them listed and contextualized.":

  • The Ace: Larry. Despite Dick's rather dim opinion of him, he and the Darryls bail the Loudons out of trouble more times than can be counted.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: How Chicago psychologist Bob Hartley wound up dreaming he was a Vermont innkeeper named Dick Loudon. His wife Emily blamed it on the Japanese food he ate before going to bed.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • In "This Probably is Condemned", Kirk learns to feel good about telling the truth. He goes back to lying in the next scene.
    • However, this trope is averted in "The Boy Who Cried Goat". After Kirk is unable to prove he wasn't lying about his cafe being robbed, Dick points out that the whole thing is his fault because of his habit of lying. Afterwards, Kirk pretty much stops lying, with a few minor exceptions.
  • All Just a Dream: Played with; after the completely out-there finale, having that episode — and the entire series to boot — be revealed as a dream wasn't unexpected. Finding out whose dream was the fun part. Bob Newhart (in his memoir), Suzanne Pleshette, and episode director Dick Martin (in two separate interviews with the Archive of American Television) all credit Ginny Newhart, Bob's wife, with the idea for the "all just a dream" ending. The show's writers, presumably in fear that Ginny Newhart might try to claim some of their royalties, vociferously dispute this and credit staff writer Dan O'Shannon (later known for his less-than-stellar tenures as showrunner on Cheers and Frasier) instead.note 
  • Arcadia: Dick sees Vermont as this as opposed to the busy life of New York.
  • As Himself: Johnny Carson, Tim Conway, Edwin Newman.
  • Author Appeal: The show frequently references basketball, with one episode taking place at a Boston Celtics game, thanks to Bob Newhart being a basketball fan.
  • Away in a Manger: Used in the show's lone Christmas Episode, Season 1's "No Room at the Inn". When all the rooms are full and a snowstorm has closed the roads, a man named Joe and his pregnant wife show up at the inn for a room (and Dick lampshades the situation). Since there are no rooms available, Dick lets them stay in his and Joanna's room. While the wife wasn't due until a few weeks later, she ends up going into labor that night. And in the final scene, the inn gets visited by a man with car trouble who needs to use the phone, saying his name is Allen Wiseman and he has two brothers in the car.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": The Darryls to their wives in the finale (also their only line in the entire series; see The Voiceless, below).
  • Birthday Suit Surprise Party: Season 1's "Shall We Gather at the River?" has Joanna surprised in this manner while clad in a negligee.
  • Book Burning: Spoofed in an episode where the town thought one of Dick's DIY books helped a man escape from prison. Joanna convinced them to actually read his books, and they found them so boring, they were considering burning them just for that (fortunately they changed their minds).
  • Breakout Characters:
    • Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, to the point where their first appearance in a given episode would provoke a near-Fonzie-like reaction from the Studio Audience. They were originally meant to be one-time gag characters but Bob Newhart noticed how positively they were received by the live audience, so he brought them back in subsequent episodes. By season three they were part of the main cast. Larry, Darryl and Darryl were locally very popular in real-world Vermont, culminating in the actors appearing in character for an all-lard Food Fight staged in Burlington as part of a local festival in the late 1980s. Sort of a live, in-person Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • Both Stephanie and Michael were also originally introduced as one-shot guest stars, and were popular enough to become regulars.
  • Brick Joke: The series finale, where Bob is struck on the head and passes out, and wakes up in bed with Emily from his previous series, The Bob Newhart Show, (as a parody of the "It Was All A Dream" sequence used in Dallas), implying this series is just a dream he has each night, might just end up becoming the longest brick joke in history.
  • Busman's Holiday:
    • "Tell a Lie, Get a Check" begins with Dick and Joanna returning from a two-week vacation where they stayed at many hotels.
      Dick: We went to hotel after hotel, and now we're back at our own hotel.
    • In one episode, the whole staff visits Stephanie's parents for her father's birthday. While there, Dick accidentally breaks a valuable music box and asks George to fix it before Stephanie's father finds out, and George complains about having to do handyman work on his vacation.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Dick. To a lesser extent, Larry and George.
    • Any character immediately becomes this whenever they interact with Stephanie.
  • The Cameo: Suzanne Pleshette reprises her role of Emily Hartley in the finale's famous Reveal.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Even though almost everything he says is naturally funny, Dick cannot tell a
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': In "Send Her Ella", Stephanie agrees to watch after the inn so that the others can attend a local event she's not interested in, but when she learns there's a beauty contest she changes her mind but Dick and Joanna won't let her go back on her agreement. A guest offers to watch the inn so that Stephanie can participate in the beauty contest, wearing a disguise so that Dick won't recognize her. Dick immediately figures out that it's Stephanie and although Stephanie does win, the prize isn't something she's interested in. And to top it all off, when they get back to the inn, the place had been robbed.
  • Catchphrase: "Hi, I'm Larry. This is my brother, Darryl. This is my other brother, Darryl."
  • Caustic Critic: The critic in "Pressence of Malice". He regularly gives Vermont Today bad reviews, when Dick confronts him about it, he says that he's paid to hate and is particularly harsh towards Vermont Today because it opens up hate for him.
  • Censorship by Spelling: When Kirk criticizes George for thinking he saw a spaceship, Dick wants to keep what George saw on the down low so he won't be made fun of, saying he does not want to talk about it in front of the g-u-e-s-t-s. Kirk then sarcastically remarks "we can spell and they can't."
  • City with No Name: It's never actually revealed what Vermont town the Stratford Inn is located in. According to The Other Wiki, some sources indicate it may be Norwich, while the building used for establishing shots of the inn is in Middlebury. In "The Way We Thought We Were", from season 1, Dick mentions that Montpelier is "59 miles from here," placing the town farther away than Norwich (or Middlebury) is from there in real life.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: George. As Dr. Robert Hartley recounts in the series finale, "The handyman kept missing the point of things..."
  • Comically Missing the Point: In "My Three Dads", Michael came up with the concept of the station running "teasers" for the news, which irritates George (who feels he has to watch the news after seeing the promo). When the station runs a teaser announcing that a blonde socialite has eloped, Michael rushes to the Inn to make sure it's not referring to Stephanie. After George points out to Michael that it doesn't feel so good to be teased like that, Michael realizes how powerful these teasers are... [and sees it as evidence that they're working.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: In the Grand Finale, the entire town is bought out by a Japanese company to build a golf course. Dick is the lone holdout, and the course is built around his inn. Smashed windows from errant golf shots are a daily occurrence. Subverted in that in the penultimate scene all the former townsfolk come back for a reunion and they're all much better off, followed by a Gainax Ending where the whole series is revealed to be All Just a Dream by Robert Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Consummate Liar: Kirk. In his first scene, he decides to admit upfront to Dick and Joanna that he's a habitual liar. Though most of his lies aren't that bad, and whenever somebody questions what he says, he quickly tells the truth. His lying is less common in the second season, though it is mentioned at times (such as when he met Cindy, he told Dick that he went the whole evening without telling her a single lie).
    • Two episodes heavily revolve around Kirk's habit of lying. He does a bit of lying throughout "This Probably is Condemned", but after he appreciates that his friends have fixed up the cafe so it'll be up to code, they ask him to stop lying and make him feel better about lying, which lasts until the episodes tag. This episode has his worst cases of lying on the series. When he comes back late in the day after having told them he was going to buy them breakfast, he lies about having had to go to the emergency room, and at the end, he admits that the cafe had never really been condemned in the first place.
    • The other episode to revolve around his lying is "The Boy Who Cried Goat", in which Kirk gets robbed. When an insurance agent investigates to make sure he's not committing insurance fraud, Dick reluctantly tells him that Kirk regularly lies, leading to Kirk having to take a lie detector test. Though he's supposedly telling the truth, Kirk is really nervous about the lie detector, but it turns out that whatever Kirk says somehow does not register on a lie detector. At the end of the episode, Dick points out that the ordeal is all his fault for having told so many lies and compares it to the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: In "Support Your Local Shifflet", the town council is unable to afford Officer Shifflet's request for a raise after approving a traffic light Dick requested, leading Shifflet to go on strike. Eventually, they decide to give Shifflet his raise in exchange for putting in a much-cheaper stop sign instead of a traffic light. Dick says that he doesn't mind, and Jim lampshades this trope.
  • Crying Wolf: Due to his reputation as a liar, when Kirk's cafe gets robbed, the insurance company does not believe him. Dick compares the whole situation to the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", a story Kirk had not heard or been aware of.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dick, frequently.
  • Died on Their Birthday: One episode had the characters go to Stephanie's parents' house for her cousin's one hundredth birthday. At the party, the cousin blows out the candles, sits on a nearby couch, and just slips away.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "Presence of Malice", Dick deals with a Caustic Critic who's constantly been writing harsh reviews of Vermont Today. Once the critic starts insulting Chester, Jim, and the townspeople in general, Jim remembers that Chester is the mayor and can do something about it, so they decide to make it so that wherever the critic parks his car is an automatic towing zone and legal for people to come into his house to use his phone. But they find Dick's suggestion that they make it against the law to write bad reviews unrealistic.
  • Downer Ending: "The Boy Who Cried Goat".Due to his reputation as a liar, when Kirk's cafe is robbed, the insurance agent thinks he is lying and requires him to take a lie detector test, but when he uses it, the machine does not register anything, while it is proven to work on Dick. Since the lie detector won't work on Kirk, things don't look good for him. Kirk then decides to try to find the man who robbed him, but when he goes to a bar and tries to tell everybody what has happened and offer a reward, everybody just cheers upon mentioning that his cafe was robbed.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Thanks to the ending of the series, "A Midseason's Night Dream" is full of these.
  • Drop-In Character: Larry and the Darryls and Kirk show up at the inn whenever they feel like it. Michael qualifies too during the time he isn't working as Dick's producer and isn't dating Stephanie.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: Larry, Darryl and Darryl get special mention, but in general, the unnamed town is full of oddballs.
  • Exact Words:
    • In "The Way We Thought We Were", Kirk talks Dick into co-sponsoring a pee-wee hockey team, telling him to imagine the shirt saying "The Minuteman Cafe" right beside "the Stratford Inn". When he shows a printed uniform, The Minute Man Cafe is written in big bold print, with "right beside the Statford Inn" in very tiny letters below it. Kirk claims it's a mistake.
    • In "My Three Dads", George is upset when he sees promos for the late night news that use "teasers" to get people to watch, which Michael says he came up with. One such promo announced "President dead! Details at eleven!", which turned out to be about Calvin Coolidge as opposed to the current president, and another promo says "Soda contaminated!", when it's really just a bug being found in a soda can that was left out overnight.
    • In "Still the Beavers", Michael puts out an advertising campaign for George's new lodge. While it does include a few false promises on the grounds that, according to Michael, people expect less, a few of those promises are built on exact words, such as mentioning a color TV after mentioning door prizes (it doesn't say that a color TV is a door prize, just that the inn has one), and that members can see the car from Night Rider (which is in a picture on the wall - which amazes Harley, who expected that to be false).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Larry, Darryl and Darryl's first business - "Anything for a Buck". They'll do anything for a buck. If it's something cool like digging up an old witch, er old woman's body from the cellar, they might even pay YOU the buck.
  • Expy: At times Kirk Devane seemed like one for Herb Tarlek of WKRP in Cincinnati. That wasn't a coincidence; Steven Kampmann had been a writer for that show and had been instrumental in developing Herb as a character.
  • Extra-Long Episode: According to Bob Newhart's autobiography, the last episode lasted a little longer than 30 minutes because the producers couldn't figure out what to edit without affecting the plot.
  • Extreme Doormat: As a boss, Dick puts up with a lot that he probably shouldn't, considering the general incompetency and mendacity of his various employees.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When the former town residents decide to stay at the hotel indefinitely, Bob finally has enough and decides to leave, before outright shouting that they are all crazy. Cue the golf ball.
  • Flanderization: This show was never exactly realistic, but by the end it was basically a live action cartoon. The later seasons are far more acclaimed than the earlier ones, making this a rare example of a show improved by flanderization.
  • Foreshadowing: In a last-season episode, Jack Riley, aka The Bob Newhart Show's Eliot Carlin, shows up as an unnamed man seeking psychiatric help for his deep neuroses. Could another reality have been invading, trying to wake Bob Hartley up?
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: How an elderly relative of Stephanie's made his money, as revealed in "It's My Party and I'll Die if I Want To", was through a series of these — up to and including threatening Herbert Hoover with a lawsuit after burning the roof of his mouth on a slice of rhubab pie during a dinner at the White House. After he dies and it's announced who his money is being left to, the will states that his lawyers will sue anybody who complains about this.
  • Gainax Ending: In "The Last Newhart", a Japanese visitor intends to purchase the entire town and turn it into a golf course, with Dick and Joanna as the lone holdouts. All the townspeople return for one last reunion, and Dick gets frustrated with all the bickering, suddenly exclaiming "You're all crazy!" as he gets hit on the head by a golf ball, and it segues to the bedroom of Robert and Emily Hartley from the 1970's sitcom sitting up in bed, where he dreamed that he was the innkeeper in a small Vermont town with eccentric characters and married to a beautiful blonde; Emily tells him he can't have Japanese food before bedtime anymore.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Dick is a great history buff and bought the Inn for nostalgia's sake. The Inn is a very tastefully done building with antiques and paintings on display.
    Dick: [checking in their very first guests] Just sign your John Hancock right there [looks at the guestbook] ... er... right there under John Hancock.
  • Grand Finale: "The Last Newhart," one of the most memorable sitcom finales among fans and critics, where we learn that the entire scenario of a mild-mannered, humble and genial innkeeper and TV show host driven to the brink of a nervous breakdown by crazy, loony caricatures of the town's residents was but a nightmare of Dr. Robert Hartley (of The Bob Newhart Show).
    • The plot of this final show magnifies what the show had been doing progressively over its eight years: A Japanese tycoon buys the (unnamed) town where the Stratford Inn (which protagonists Dick and Joanna Loudon owned) was located, and after a farewell party (with Dick pretty much saying good-riddance), the main characters — handyman George Utley, yuppies Michael and Stephanie Harris, and Larry and his brothers Darryl and Darryl — leave. In the five years that pass, Dick has now been dealing with crazier loons than what populated the inn years earlier, and his wife (as a geisha girl) has even gotten nuts; he's also unable to get over a golf course being built around the inn without his permission. Then, the old folks all come back and drive Dick to the brink of a nervous breakdown. The Darryls speak for the only time in the series' history ("QUIET!!!" to shut their chatty wives up). Finally, things become chaotic as the new Japanese folks become friends with their old counterparts, and Dick can take it no longer; he says he's going to leave, and just as he walks out the door is knocked out by a wayward golf ball. The screen goes black ... and when a light comes back on, the scene shifts to Dr. Hartley's bedroom from The Bob Newhart Show, and his wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette in a cameo of her famous role) scolds him for eating too much Japanese food before bed! (Unlike Bob on The Bob Newhart Show, Dick was psychologically unable to deal with the eccentric folks in his town.) Whew!
    • They went to great pains to make sure that the studio audience didn't see the bedroom set until they had started filming.
    • The actual ending was not in the script. A fake ending was included in case the script were to get leaked to the tabloids, which as it turned out was exactly what happened. In the fake ending, the golf ball that hits Dick apparently kills him, and he goes up to heaven to have a conversation with God. The actor playing God was not revealed in the "script", so the tabloids speculated that it might be George Burns (who had played God in the Oh, God! movies), George C. Scott, or maybe even Newhart's Real Life best friend Don Rickles. Contrary to some reports, the fake ending was never filmed.
    • Possibly a crowning moment of awesome as well is the musical sting from The Bob Newhart Show that plays when Dr. Hartley and wife turn out the lights to go back to bed!
    • Then, the entire cast came out to perform a final Curtain Call which runs during the episode's closing credits.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Michael is fond of peppering his dialogue with foreign words.
    Michael: Can we kibitz, compadre?
    Dick: Must be urgent. You're mixing Spanish with Yiddish.
  • Halloween Episode: "Take Me to Your Loudon", in which a costume party at the Stratford is interrupted by the townspeople getting sent into a panic over a nonexistent Alien Invasion due to Michael airing The War of the Worlds on TV.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Including one where Newhart accidentally refers to Mary Frann's character Joanna as "Emily", which Frann immediately catches and makes a huge production out of (sauntering off the stage, taking her bows and pretending as if she's going to leave the set). The audience howled and screamed with laughter.
  • Hollywood New England: Stephanie's parents are typical blue-blood Connecticut stereotypes. Vermont, which is rarely portrayed in media, is something of a mishmash of New England as well as other rural stereotypes. Types like Larry, Darryl and Darryl are common in Vermont, but Larry's accent sounds like he comes from Appalachia.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Cast members from The Bob Newhart Show frequently appeared, most notably Suzanne Pleshette reprising her role as Emily Hartley in the finale. Tom Poston was a series regular (George Uttley), after being a recurring guest character on The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Hi, I'm Larry. This is my brother Daryl, and my other brother Daryl."
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Composed by Henry Mancini.
  • Ironic Echo: In "Reading, Writing, and Rating Points", when Michael's production class confronts him about stealing a show idea from a student, he sheepishly acknowledges that they talked about the idea in class but "when a group of people are brainstorming ideas, who remembers who came up with it?", to which the whole class quickly replies "It was Neil!" But when Michael confesses to his boss, right before the first show ends, the station gets calls from viewers who hated the show, to which Michael quickly reminds everyone who the real creator is, Neil repeats Michael's earlier line, and Michael just as quickly points out "It was Neil!"
  • Ivy League for Everyone: In season 1, Leslie is attending Dartmouth while working at the Stratford.
  • Last of His Kind: When Newhart premiered in 1982, it was pretty much the only remaining MTM Enterprises production that still aired on former stronghold CBS, as the studio shifted most of its product to NBC due to company co-founder and president Grant Tinker becoming chairman and CEO there. In addition, it was also pretty much MTM's last major sitcom, as by this time the studio had pretty much shifted its focus to cranking out dramas instead.
  • Let There Be Snow: But Larry, Darryl, and Darryl did a rush job in whatever ritual they did, so some of the snowflakes looked alike.
  • Logo Joke: Mimsie the cat in the MTM logo is dubbed over with a deadpan Bob Newhart saying "Meow." At least until the final episode, when Mimsie instead yells "QUIET!!" in the Darryls' voices.
  • Missing the Good Stuff: In one episode, while Dick and Joanna are sick in bed, Dick watches a basketball game, after Joanna remembers hearing about a soap opera having an important episode, she changes the channel right before an impressive shot and in retaliation, Dick changes the channel right before a reveal twist. When Dick learns he missed seeing the shot, he changes the channel back, and it is specifically said in the soap opera that the secret will never be mentioned again.
  • Mistaken for Dying: Subversion. In one episode, Dick and Stephanie star in a pilot for a sitcom in which Stephanie plays a pair of twins. In the pilot, they overhear their father (Dick) talk about how he is going to dye... his hair, but they leave before he mentions he will dye his hair and think he is going to die soon.
  • Mr Fix It: George is the handyman at the inn, though he tends to get things wrong as often as he fixes things.
  • Mythology Gag: The final scene repeated the first series' Running Gag of "bedside lights on/off".
  • Newhart Phonecall: A common gag on the show, given Newhart used it in his stand-up. Interestingly in one episode Dick has a phone conversation with one of the Darryls before it was established that they never spoke, even off screen.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The unnamed town is (very loosely) based on Norwich, Vermont, and the Stratford is patterned after the real-life Waybury Inn in East Middlebury (which is seen in establishing shots).
  • Noodle Incident: In one episode, the reason why one (or both) of the Darryls don't talk is that one (or both) of them sat on a porcupine and haven't talked since.
  • Only Sane Man: Dick, like all of Bob Newhart's characters. Joanna starts this way, but gets wackier as the show goes on.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Both when it was new and in syndication, Newhart remains stuck in the shadow of The Bob Newhart Show. It doesn't help that what is by far the show's most famous moment involves an elaborate and explicit Call-Back to that earlier series.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Averted in "Send Her, Ella", after Stephanie gets stuck watching the Inn while the rest of the staff participates in Maple Syrup Day. Wanting to participate in the beauty pageant, Stephanie goes anyway, dressed in a brunette wig and disguising her voice so she won't be recognized, but Dick instantly figures out that it's her.
      Dick: Stephanie, what are you doing here?!
      Stephanie: How did you know it was me?
      Dick: Because I'm not a moron!
    • George attempts to use one of these in "The Nice Man Cometh". Once again, Dick easily sees through it.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: In "Reading, Writing, Ratings Points", when Michael is under pressure to come up with a new series for the station, he ends up stealing an idea from a student in his production class. Bev likes it and commissions the series, while Michael feels guilty about it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In "You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Hires You", one of the biggest difficulties Dick faces with taking over as producer of Vermont Today is all the paperwork he has to sign. After Dick sacrifices some of his salary for Michael to get hired back with more pay, Dick says it's worth it to no longer deal with all the paperwork... Only to then learn that the employee who kept handing paperwork to Dick is the one who's supposed to fill the paperwork, having never mentioned it to Dick. Could be more a case of You Never Asked, though no such conversation is shown.
  • Prenup Blowup: Stephanie's father wanted Michael to sign a prenup. Stephanie didn't care one way or the other, but when Michael was uncomfortable with signing, Stephanie began to doubt his love for her.
  • Pretty in Mink: Stephanie had a couple mink jackets.
  • Prodigal Family: George's obnoxious cousin from Milwaukee shows up and annoys the whole town to the point where George has to stand between him and an angry mob. The cousin then says something rude to George who punches him out.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • After Season 1, Leslie Vanderkellen leaves for England to continue her education at Oxford, and from Season 2 onwards, she is never mentioned again.
    • After Season 2, Kirk Devane is written out of the series, marrying Cindy and selling the Minuteman Café, which is bought by Larry and the two Darryls.
  • Quirky Town: Everyone in the town that Dick and Joanna move to seem to be at least a bit off.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Stephanie and Michael marry and have a kid.
  • Retool: One of the most successful examples. During the second season, the show switched from videotape to film, added Stephanie as a regular, and opened up the show beyond the inn by giving Dick a job hosting a local TV show (which also brought Michael in as a new character). Weak first-season characters Kirk and Leslie were Put on a Bus. All these changes helped make the show more popular.
  • Rich Bitch: Stephanie is lazy and vain, and constantly insults her employers.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • It could be argued the whole world suffers this as the series progresses. As already noted, of course, there's a reason for this.
    • More specifically, Dick in the telethon episode, thanks to sleep deprivation.
  • Series Continuity Error: One famous running gag was that Darryl and Darryl never spoke, leading to everyone, including Dick, being shocked when they both spoke during the finale. Dick even says to Larry "your brothers can speak, how come they haven't said anything up til' now?" But in S1:E16, "Ricky Nelson, Up My Nose," Dick gets a call from Larry, only for the call to be interrupted by the Darryls, leading Dick to respond with "I'm fine" and "could you put Larry back on please?" Although the audience does not hear them, nonetheless Dick had previously heard the Darryls speak long before the finale.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In "Still the Beavers", George quits The Beavers after he gets cheated out of a trip that he earned the chance to go on. George decides to form his own lodge at the inn. The rest of The Beavers show up, and they decide they like this new lodge and leave The Beavers to be part of this one, even after the chairman reminds them that once they quit they can never come back. When they still decide to quit, the chairman also decides to join George's new lodge. They like the new lodge but become unhappy when Dick tells them he decides when and how long they can hang out, pointing out that they can only stay for another half hour. With the members unhappy about this, they decide they must find a new place to have the meetings - and that the old lodge where they had their Beavers meetings would be great, since it was just abandoned. Then when coming up with a name for the lodge, they decide to call it The Beavers. And when they decide they need a president, they decide to elect the chairman of the old Beavers since he had experience.
  • Show Within a Show: Vermont Today.
  • Significant Name Overlap:
    • Both of Larry's brothers are named Darryl.
    • Michael and Stephanie's baby daughter in season 8 is also named Stephanie (she's mostly referred to as "Baby Steph" or "Baby Stephanie").
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Kirk is nowhere to be seen on the packaging or discs for the season two DVD (while Michael, who only appeared in two episodes that season, appears on one of the disc photos).
  • Slumming It: Leslie and Stephanie, the former by choice and the latter due to getting "cut off".
  • Spoiled Brat: Stephanie never had to work a day in her life before becoming the Stratford's maid, and is reluctant to do work of any kind.
    • The finale reveals that her daughter with Michael has become one as well.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Unlike Stephanie, Leslie is a hard worker, a brilliant student and an Olympic athlete in the making with an incredibly polite personality, despite having grown up rich and having had every advantage. This is why Stephanie was so much better recieved.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Tracy, a college student who is an obsessed fan of Dick's. Michael immediately hires her to be the President of The Dick Loudon Fan Club.
  • Status Quo Is God: In one episode, Michael becomes producer for the news, and it makes him value more important things and take things more seriously, giving Stephanie gifts that are not as appealing to her and running Vermont Today more to Dick's liking, while in the same episode, George decides to "break up" with his favorite sports team (though that was not a major thing on the show). After things go back to how they were, Joanna notes that everything went back to normal in the end.
  • Stock Footage: The intro used footage of New Hampshire previously shot for, but unused in, On Golden Pond.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Michael Harris typically speaks in rapid-fire alliteration.
  • Stylistic Suck: Michael develops a truly awful sitcom called Seein' Double, best described as The Patty Duke Show meets Three's Company. We get to see footage from the "pilot", and it is atrocious. Stephanie plays twin sisters Jody and Judy, achieved by having one sister with her back to the camera in every scene (except for one, which instead features mismatched split-screen effects). The acting is universally over the top except for Dick, who is contractually obligated to play Jody and Judy's father, and doesn't even try to hide how little he wants to be there. The plot revolves around contrived misunderstandings that make even the worst Three's Company episode look like a masterpiece of farce. Fortunately for all involved, the pilot does not make it to series.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted with Stephanie, who shares Leslie's background as a rich girl Slumming It, but is a Rich Bitch who carries a lot of the comedy, while Leslie was blander.
  • Telethon: In one episode Michael convinces Dick into hosting a 72 hour telethon for the station ... even though it's a commercial station.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Don't Rain on My Parade" (season 2), "Thanksgiving for the Memories" (season 5)
  • Those Two Guys: Chester and Jim are rarely seen without each other. In "Me and My Gayle", everybody finds out about George's secret crush because of Chester, the only one George had told, but he mentions it's because he and Jim were so close. In "Good Neighbor Sam", when many characters reveal that they thought they were Dick's best friend, Dick tells them that everybody knows they are best friends, only for them to reveal that that's actually not the case ("just because we've seen each other every day since we were kids...").
  • Time Skip: Employed, subverted, and inverted in the final episode. Everybody in town except for Dick sells their property and moves away from Vermont, with the episode skipping ahead to five years later, when everybody comes back for a reunion. And then it all ends up being a dream of Bob Hartly.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: "Tell a Lie, Get a Check" ends with Kirk's cafe being sold to Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, which appears to be meant as a surprise. In addition to becoming a Late-Arrival Spoiler, a print ad for the episode prominently features the trio with the caption "who would be dumb enough to buy Kirk's cafe?"
  • Twist Ending: Parodied, in one of the all-time great TV moments.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "You're Nobody Until Somebody Hires You", after seeing Michael become a mess after being fired (and his new duties as producer being more difficult than expected), Dick helps Michael get his old job back. Bev only offers him his old job and salary back, but Michael uses Dick's need for Michael to be the producer again to get the raise he had wanted that got him fired in the first place (and when Bev says there's no money in the budget and asks if they're supposed to take it out of Dick's salary, Michael doesn't think that's such a bad idea).
  • Vetinari Job Security:
    • In "You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Hires You", Michael gets fired after making some demands and Dick gets promoted to producer of Vermont Today as a result. However, the job is harder than Dick expected (especially with that crew), making him want Michael back as the producer, to the point where Dick's willing to take a pay cut so the station can meet Michael's demands. Notably, Dick initially doubts he could do the job, only for Bev, the one who offered him the job, to point out it's easy because Michael was able to do it.
    • When Stephanie leaves The Stratford to become WPIV's receptionist, Joanna struggles to find a replacement maid. Despite her flaws, Dick is happy to take her back with a raise after WPIV fires her.
    • The opposite occurs in another episode where Michael goes out of town for awhile and puts the secretary in charge of producing, expecting her to do badly. But she ends up being better at the job, and picking guests that Dick wants on the show. The station considers replacing Michael with her, but decides to let Dick decide which one he'd rather have as producer. While Dick feels bad about not letting Michael stay as producer, he ends up letting the secretary stay as producer. But she ends up accepting a job elsewhere.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: During the first season the show (which never shows exteriors) is shot on video, while the opening credits (which is all exteriors) are shot on film. However the show switches to film in the second season.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: The critic in "Pressence of Malice" who constantly gives Vermont Today, and Dick Loudon in general, negative reviews because he's "paid to hate", and the show opens up amounts of hate for him that he hadn't previously known he had. While Dick has a right to be unhappy, it is the critic's job to voice his opinion, good or bad, and Dick does point this out a few times. However, the critic becomes interested in continuing to give the show harmful reviews until it's canceled, and later draws the line when realizing the town is full of idiots and considers doing a regular feature where he insults the town. Too bad when he announces this that he didn't realize he was in the same room as the mayor and enough city council members....
  • The Voiceless: Larry's brothers Darryl and Darryl, save for one moment in the grand finale.
  • Wham Line: "QUIET!"
  • Wham Shot: From the finale: after Bob is knocked unconscious by a stray golf ball, we fade to black... and then we hear Bob say "Ow!", and then turn on his bedside lamp... And if you didn't get it yet, his wife sits up...
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The town in which the series takes place is never specified, with some media sources identifying it as Norwich, Vermont, across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, with Vermonters complaining that the opening scenes are of New Hampshire instead of Vermont, and the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, VT being used for external shots of the fictional Stratford Inn according to the Internet Movie Database. Throughout the series, the name of the community is never mentioned.
  • Who's Watching the Store?: There were a number of times when everybody who worked at the Stratford Inn were away from the inn, and many times when Minuteman Cafe owners Kirk or Larry, Darryl, and Darryl were away from the cafe, with no additional staff. Subverted a bit in that before Larry, Darryl, and Darryl bought the cafe Kirk had them look after the cafe on two occasions.
    • In one episode Kirk ends his business with Dick then shouts out to customers screaming in his restaurant "Oh, settle down,'s just a little smoke!"
    • In "Send Her Ella", Stephanie agrees to watch the inn while the rest attend a local event she's initially not interested in attending until she learns there's a beauty pageant included, but by then Dick and Joanna won't let her go because she already promised to watch the inn. A guest eventually decides to watch the place for her. The inn ends up getting robbed as a result.
  • Work Com: With the twist that the Loudons' place of business also happened to be their home. Once Dick started hosting Vermont Today, much of the show took place behind the scenes at the TV station.
  • Yuppie: Michael and Stephanie were often characterized this way, though as Scolari pointed out, they are actually "failed yuppies" in that they live in rural Vermont and don't actually enjoy the kind of life they aspire to.

Bob: Well, I was an innkeeper in this crazy little town in Vermont. Nothing made sense in this place. I mean, the maid was an heiress. Her husband talked in alliteration. The handyman kept missing the point of things. And then there were these three woodsmen, but only one of them talked.
Emily: That settles it. No more Japanese food before you go to bed.


Video Example(s):


"The Last Newhart"

In which the events of the series finale of "Newhart" turn out to be a dream... but whose dream?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / AllJustADream

Media sources: