The Most Unexpected Moment in TV History

A shout out to Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On for inspiring this blog post.

In today’s post, Beth wrote about the time as a child when she was putting together a plastic model of Black Fury and some glue squirted in her eye and she had to be taken to the eye doctor. As a result, Beth gave up her toy modeling hobby and switched to stamp collecting.

Her post reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where George’s fiance died from licking envelopes because the adhesive was toxic.

Of course, that led me to read about that episode, and one of the fun facts I discovered was that in December 2005, the episode was listed at number eight as part of the “Top 100 Most Unexpected Moments in TV History” by TV Guide and TV Land.

And of course, that made me curious as to what the number one most unexpected moment was in TV history, and here is a clip from that show (with less than ideal audio quality):

The Newhart show, which aired on CBS from October 25, 1982, to May 21, 1990 featured Bob Newhart and Mary Frann as an author and his wife, respectively, who own and operate an inn in a small, rural Vermont town that is home to many eccentric characters.

In the finale, the entire town is purchased by a visiting Japanese tycoon, who turns the hamlet into an enormous golf course and recreation resort. Dick and Joanna are the only townspeople who refuse to leave. The others accept million-dollar payoffs and leave in a farewell scene that parodies Fiddler on the Roof. Five years later, Dick and Joanna continue to run the Stratford Inn, which is now located in the middle of the golf course. The other townspeople, now richer and older, unexpectedly return for a reunion. The Darryl brothers also speak for the first time on screen, loudly yelling “Quiet!” at their wives in unison. Dick gets frustrated with the increasingly chaotic scene, and storms out shouting “You’re all crazy!”, only to be knocked out by an errant golf ball.

The setting of the last scene is nighttime, in the bedroom of Dr. Bob Hartley (played by Newhart) and his wife Emily, played by Suzanne Pleshette. Bob and Emily were the primary characters in a TV show –The Bob Newhart Show –  that ran from 1972-1978. Bob awakens, upset, and he wakes Emily to tell her about the very strange dream he has just had: that he was an innkeeper in a small Vermont town filled with eccentric characters. Emily tells him “that settles it—no more Japanese food before you go to bed.” Bob mentions his marriage to a “beautiful blonde,” and that Emily should wear more sweaters (in reference to Mary Frann’s form-fitting tops) before the credits roll.

A clever ending for sure. It has been said that Bob Newhart’s wife was the one who came up with the idea of the dream sequence.

Now I know that if someone else wrote this post and I was reading it, I would immediately want to check out that list of the top 100 most unexpected moments in TV history to see what else was on it.

The reason I know that is because that is exactly what I spent too much time doing this afternoon. If you are also curious, here is the link. But I do want to warn you, you may find it hard to avoid looking up some of the moments and watching them on YouTube.

P.S. One of my favorites was the final appearance of Sonny and Cher together, singing I Got You Babe on the Late Night with David Letterman show…

P.P.S. If the link to the list does not appear at first, you may need to click the expand arrows at the top right of the page (next to the subscribe button).


49 thoughts on “The Most Unexpected Moment in TV History

  1. Newhart was brilliant, but for me, Seinfeld will always be #1. By the way, I considered digging out my old rabbit ears to see if I could improve the sound quality of that fine piece of video. 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The most unexpected, and unforgettable, TV moment for me was a broadcast of an UCLA football game in the early 1970s. When breaking for a commercial, a cameraman, I assume the gender, kept focusing on a lovely young blonde woman in the stands who was wearing a very revealing top. The lady noticed the attention and began acting more provocatively with each break. I suspect that consumption of adult beverages played a role. It was way more interesting than the game. Finally near the end of the game, she pulled up the top and flashed the camera. There was no delay and the view went nationwide. Almost 50 years ago, but memorable.

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  3. I always thought that ending was brilliant. Every time someone complains about a horrible series ending (Lost, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother), I tell someone about how wonderful this one was. Glad it’s getting some much-deserved recognition. Bob Newhart is comedic gold in everything he does.

    As for unexpected TV moments, I don’t want to get sucked down that rabbit hole by clicking the link (I know I’d spend hours watching clips) but I can’t help but wonder if Gene Rayburn’s faux pas on Match Game made the list. I’m sure that particular show had several (for the time) racy moments, but the mistake that always makes clip reel highlights is the one where he meant to say dimples. It was certainly unexpected.

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  4. Meanwhile, the rest of the world wonders at what an insular bunch those Yanks are, appearing never to watch anything other than American shows. I’m betting that if a similar list were compiled here it would have a good many non-UK shows on it.

    Oh, and Zola Budd was innocent…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed there are. Shocking, isn’t it? We make our own crap as well as buying yours 😂

        Poor Zola was demonised over there. I agree, it was an accident, a coming together of a very inexperienced runner with one who clearly thought she owned the track. Avoidable, but I don’t think either was especially aware of the other’s presence.

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      2. That probably makes you much more enlightened than most of your countryfolk, judging from that survey. I cancelled mine – got it free for six months on a promo, hardly watched it and didn’t think it worth paying for when the promo expired. I already have far too much I could watch anyway! Hope you’re enjoying it.

        Yes, I don’t think either was the same after the incident. Sad, as they were both great runners.

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  5. Such a fun and nostalgic post Jim. I loved Seinfeld and Bob Newhart and all his wives, lol. I was cracking up over killing off Susan from licking envelopes. Hilarious. And, nobody liked her anyway. LOLOL 🙂

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