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Death is the Last Part of Life

Just a quick note about Suzanne Pleshette, who died last night at the age of 70.

'The Bob Newhart Show' (the real one, not that other one or that other other one) was easily my favorite show when it was on the air.  What's strange is that it was only on the air for six seasons and 85 episodes - it should have been so much more.  (By contrast, 'Who's the Boss' was on for 8 seasons and 190 episodes, which certainly seemed like a sign of the apocalypse at the time.)

Emily was not my favorite character on the show.  That honor has to go to Bill Daly as the best wacky neighbor ever, Howard Borden.  

In the supermarket -

Bob - The list says we need canned tomatoes.
Howard - What kind?  There's paste, diced, whole and stewed.
Bob - Let's get stewed Howard.
Howard - Maybe later Bob.  Right now we have to finish the shopping.

But Emily had her moments.  Like the very end of the episode in which Howard's brother, Gordon the game Warden had been to Chicago for a visit.

Emily - Howard's brother called.
Bob - Warden Gordon Bordon?
Emily - No... his other brother.  Norman.
Bob - What does he do?
Emily - He's a doorman.  At the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
Bob - Don't tell me he's a Mormon.
Emily - That's right.  Norman Borden the Mormon Doorman.  (Laughs hysterically.)
Bob - How long did it take you to come up with that?
Emily - All day.

Emily was great.  Hot without being a bimbo or stupid.  Funny and confident.  An integral part of the show, not just another sidekick wife.  Sure there was disproportionate hotness in her TV marriage to schlubby Bob Newhart, but by sitcom standards it wasn't that bad.  She was only about 8 years younger in real life.  

I'm old enough now to lament that 'they don't make shows like they used to'.  As it happens, I saw an episode of 'Bob Newhart' a couple weeks ago on some cable channel I didn't know I had.  It was the first time I'd seen the show in years.  I loved watching it, mostly from a nostalgic standpoint, but it wasn't the paragon of television comedy that some people would have you believe.  Sure it's much better than 'Who's the Boss' or even 'Three and a Half Men' and the vast majority of the usual sitcom fare.  But a show like 'The Office', while an acquired taste, is infinitely more clever, and even 'My Name is Earl' has tighter writing.  And compared to the laughs per square inch of 'Arrested Development' they all look like an Ibsen play.

But it was a great show for it's time - an era when the prime time schedule meant something.  I looked forward to 'Mary Tyler Moore' and 'Bob Newhart' every week, and they never disappointed.  

So it's sad that Emily is gone.

I am reminded of this exchange between Bob and Emily.

Bob - Aren't you scared of dying?
Emily - I'm not scared of it.  I'm frightened by it.
Bob - Interesting distinction.
Emily - I just think of death as a part of life.
Bob - Yeah, the last part.