July 20, 2005
TV review: ‘Bob Newhart: Unbuttoned’
By Irv Letofsky
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In the civilized world,
and mostly likely the uncivilized one, too, there might be very
few funny accountants. That is, two plus two isn't a laughing
matter. But "American Masters" is commemorating quite possibly
the funniest accountant in captivity with "Bob Newhart:
Actually, this is more an adoration than a commemoration,
with producer-writer-director Kyra Thompson making the rounds
of family, friends and fellow funnies to try to explain why we
all like the stammering, deadpan Newhart.
Why do we laugh at him? Where some comics do more, Newhart,
the one-time Chicago accountant, does less. Sometimes much
less. And gets away with it.
But explaining comedy is mostly flat stuff. Still, it's
amusing to watch snatches of his pretty linear life for an icon
and snatches of his funny business from his albums, club
stand-ups, TV series, movies, etc. Many of us go way back 45
years when we first heard his driving instructor praising Mrs.
Webb on how well she was doing on her lessons:
"Remember you were going to watch the rearview mirror? The
red light blinded you. The flashing red light blinded you? The
flashing red light on the car you hit blinded you? . . . Yes,
officer, she was just telling me about it . . ."