Original air date Sep 30, 1972
Directed by Alan Rafkin
Written by David Davis
& Lorenzo Music
Bob Newhart as Dr. Bob Hartley
Suzanne Pleshette as Emily Hartley
Bill Daily as Howard Borden
Peter Bonerz as Jerry Robinson
Marcia Wallace as Carol Kester
Peter Brown as Stan Connors
Barbara Barnett as Cheryl
Pat Lynsinger as Marcy
The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) was part of CBS's popular Saturday night comedy block in the early and mid 1970s. It was paired with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and followed for most of its run by The Carol Burnett Show. "Tennis, Emily?" was the third episode. Although shows like this one are too mainstream for a Thursday NiteOwl screening where we watch more hard to find stuff; we all remembered it as one of our favorites in a series with dozens of great episodes.
With school out, teacher Emily is bored and moping. She perks up when she starts tennis lessons with Stan (Peter Brown) whom she describes to husband Bob as "such a sweet man" who's looking for a psychologist because "he has a lot of personal problems." The next morning, a gushing Carol interrupts Bob's teeth cleaning with Jerry to announce "There is the most gorgeous person out there I have ever seen in my entire life." Stan arrives between tennis lessons dressed in tennis whites to have Bob help him with his personal problem.
Asked to describe his problem, Stan takes a deep breath and leans forward: "Bob, you have no idea what it's like to be incredibly good looking." Bob does a long take before he dryly responds, "No, I suppose not." Stan goes on to describe how women are always "coming on with him." He stopped counting at age nineteen, which Bob admits is about the time he started counting.
The remainder of the episode explores Bob's concern that Emily might be attracted to Stan, Emily's assurances that she never went for the tall, handsome obvious types like Stan, Stan's attendance at a little party at which all the women are drawn to him like paperclips to a magnet, Stan's belief that Emily is "coming on with him," Emily's assurance with dip bowl strategically poised that she is not, Stan's realization that maybe his belief that women are always coming on with him is imagined and Bob's assurances when Howard's date starts asking about tennis lesson, that it's not all in his imagination.
The episode ends with Jerry at the office coffee pot surrounded by the medical building's beautiful women apparently listening to Jerry tell a funny story. However, as Stan exits Bob's office for the elevator, the women all swivel to watch him, leaving Jerry mid-story as the elevator doors close.
NiteOwl Review: It was important to this episode that Stan be likable, despite the nature of his "problem", but so clearly attractive that the viewing audience wasn't thinking, "that guy's not so great looking." Credit for Peter's ability to meet the latter criteria goes pretty much to his genes, but the second he accomplished while showing considerable ease in a sitcom. This is something surprisingly beyond the reach of many actors unused to the format. Peter Brown made Stan amusingly guileless rather than arrogant. It's surprising and unfortunate that this was Peter's only sitcom appearance for twenty years until 1992 when he guested on Wings.
Chick Note: It was a wise choice to show off Peter's assets in tennis whites. Even Peter couldn't wring much sex appeal out of standard 1970s apparel.
Official Peter Brown Fan Site