I’ve been wanting to talk about Coach for a long time, but had trouble finding a show to pair with it. Not that Coach is so special it can’t be compared with anything. But which way to go? It’s a slapstick sitcom with very broad visual gags. It’s a romantic show with Hayden and Christine’s on and off relationship. It’s a show about a neglectful father spending time with his daughter and learning how to relate to her. It’s also an ensemble comedy with a quirky cast of wacky characters. It’s a show about a coach who loves his job and has so much passion for it that he takes a ragtag team and turns them into national champions. On top of all that, the show could tackle serious issues once in awhile and be dark at times. This is why I had so much trouble pairing it with something (that, and I despise the obvious match Evening Shade).
So after searching I finally found a suitable match. Coach was created by writer/producer Barry Kemp, who also created a little show called Newhart. These shows had lots of little things in common so this made sense. (by the way he also worked on Taxi but we will discuss that another day).  So here it is my friends–
  VS 

 

Newhart aired on CBS (1982-1990), Coach on ABC (1989-1997). Both these shows have good characters who are unique and memorable. But, which is better?

 

CATEGORY 1-DICK LOUDON VS HAYDEN FOX
 

 

Two very different people. Dick is an author who decided to ditch New York and run an inn in Vermont. He is a calm guy who tries not to let the craziness of the town get to him. Hayden is a football coach who has landed in Minnesota State where he teaches the lackluster Screaming Eagles. Hayden is more negative and tends to have a very quick temper. Dick is always afraid of confrontation, tending to be more nervous when things comes up. Hayden thrives on it, and has no trouble letting the people around no how he feels, whether they like it or not. Dick would usually tolerate the craziness as much as he could until finally losing patience at the end of the episode. Hayden had cave man views on men and woman but he tried to be a better husband and father as the series went on. So who wins? The problem with Dick is from his performer. Bob Newhart is a comedy legend, and I love him, but he isn’t the greatest actor. He usually just sits back and watches and comments. On the other hand, Hayden has much more depth to him because Craig T Nelson is a decent actor. He has been in some big things and so he knows how to make Hayden nutty while at the same time making him sympathetic and reasonable. He may be firey but he had a big heart. In Newhart Dick watched things happen to others, in Coach things happened to Hayden. While that hurts the show (more on that later) it makes Hayden the better character I think and and I like how he changed and grew through Coach. Dick pretty much stayed the same for the eight year run.

 

winner-COACH
CATEGORY 2-Male Supprting Cast Cast

 

I am holding Luther and George off, so let’s discuss the rest. Tough call. Newhart had the awful Kirk in the early days (who remembers Kirk and Leslie??? And it took TWO seasons to realize Kirk sucked as a character??), who was replaced iwth Michael who spoke in alliteration and was quirky enough to only annoy Dick. Coach had Dauber who was a dimwitted guy with a big heart. Later years had Howard who was always good for a laugh. But the problem with this show is that it didn’t function as an esemble many times, with the guys barely appearing if the girls were featured. Or vice versa. When we don’t get to spend enough time with the characters they just become background fodder, we don’t care about them.  But aside from that, Newhart had something Coach just didn’t. Larry, Daryl, and Daryl! They belong in that list of minor characters who stole the show along with Fonzie, Steve Urel, and Kramer. Everyone knew who they were and why not, they were hysterical! Larry of course did all the talking while the brothers kept quiet. I could do a whole article on these guys! Want to know something really cool? Guess what show they popped on after Newhart ended? Yep, they did a cameo in the final episode of Coach!

 

winer-Newhart (by a larry, daryl, and daryl)
CATEGORY 3-Female Supprting Cast
   

 

Shelly Fabares vs Julia Duffy? But like I said before, the women were not in Coach enough. And they had it worst than the guys. There is a reason most of the pics I find of Coach ae him with Luther, and Dauber. Christine and Kelly would be missing or just have cameos in many episodes. And as much as I love Shelly Fabares, Christine was kind of bland. And there were times when you wondered how she stood Hayden for five seconds. It did get better after they were married but those early episodes Christine clearly wasn’t the focus. Kelly was good in the start but got dull, so dull they finally wrote her out. As for Newhart, Julia Duffy was fantastic on the show. She was a yuppy maid who was took care of the inn…badly. She was a lot of fun to watch and it’s no wonder the show made her famous. Without watching the show I knew who Julia Duffy was from Newhart. That says a lot!  Mary Frann was a very good wife, Joanna was supportive and stoof by her husband while also not being afraid to call him out on things. We also had the forgotten Leslie in Newhart and on Coach, Judy Watkins was a decent nemesis or Hayden and of course there was…whoever Katharine Helmond played those last two years. This is an easy winner, because while Christine and Kelly were  great they were very often shunted to the corner. In Newhart Mary Frann and Julia Duffy were in every episode, the show made Duffy a star. That makes Newhart the winner in my book.

 

winner-Newhart
CATEGORY 4-George vs Luther
vs

 

Wow, Tom Poston vs. Jerry Van Dyke. Now there is a match of comedy legends for you. I paired these two up because they were the backbone of each show, both being there from episode one to the final episode. We got to know and love these guys, but who is the better character? Luther is a bit nuts, he has his passions like eating. He is clumsy and prone to disaster. He is also scared of any respinsibikluty which is why he sticks by Haydn and let him be in charge. One may wonder why Hayden tolerates Luther until those moments when Luther shows how much of a heart he has. What about George? He is a lovable and sweet guy. He is very loyal and a hard worker. A little dense not to mention simple. And….that’s it. He seems to be very one note, in the episodes I’ve seen anyway. He comes on, misunderstands something, and that’t is. It’s Tom Poston’s charm which shines. Of course I did not any stories where he featured prominently. Still, from what I have seen it’s clear Luther has much more depth and is simply the stronger character. In fact Tom Poston appeared on Coach and was always outshined by Van Dyke.

 

winner-Coach
CATEGORY 5-THEME SONG
 

 

Wow, what a tough one! I love that Henry Mancini tune that opens Newhart. But I ADORE teh Coach theme. They’re both perfect tunes which set the mood for teh series. I would almosy call it a tie but I give vredit to Newhart. Why? I never watched the show but knew the theme music, which is a credit to a very memorable them, unlike Coach where I never head it until I watched the show.

 

winner-Newhart (close call)
CATEGORY 6-PREMISE
 

 

These shows have something in common for me personally. I watched neither when they were first on. Oh I knew they were on, but I ignored them. For awhile anyway. So this is where I decide which shows told thier stories better. I admit I did not watch Newhart but for this article I did check out a few episodeds on YouTube to get a feel for the series. And? It was good. The show has more emphasis on characters than the slapstick gags Coach would often use. Coach never emphasized the characters but the performers were able to overcome that and be memorable anyway. These shows kind of go backwards in their history. Coach started great and got worst and worst. Newhart started kind of weak with a weak premise and boring characters and got better with changes in the format and the main cast. The stories on Newhart were usually about the town or the strange people in the inn. When Dick got his talk show of course plots around that. But that was it, the show never (from what I have seen) took chances or thought outside  the box. Coach was different with it’s slapstick approach. Very often the story was pushed aside for the comedy, though it did manage some very heartfelt moments in almost every episode. It those genuine moments that made tolerate the inane or even silly one’s, because there we knew that once the door to Hayden’s cabin got blown down yet again a real genuine character moment would soon follow. It also wasn’t the same every week. One episode would be football related, another would be about Hayden and Christine, and so on. Newhart seemed to be more of rinse and a repeat show. A problem would come up, Dick would get annoyed, and problem would be resolved by the end. Nothing special. For me this really comes down to one thing. When I watched re-runs of Newhart I liked it enough. The she was funny and the characters interesting. But I never wanted to see more or check it out regularly. Coach was the opposite, I found the show funny as hell and wanted to see the episodes I had missed and began watching the first run shows. I hated it later on, but we can discuss that in the next section. The re-runs of Coach made me a fan of the show in a way re-runs Newhart just never did.
WINNER-COACH
CATEGORY 7-JUMP THE SHARK
 

 

This is an obvious one, I know. But let’s talk about it anyway. Coach moved its setting to Florida which is one of the worst crimes a sitcom can make, changing its premise. I stopped watching. As for Newhart I really can’t say how good or bad that final year was. I imagine like any show it was getting tired by the end. What about final episodes? Coach had a fantastic final episode as Hayden and Christine return to Minnesota and decide to put down roots. What about Newhart? Is there anyone who has never heard of this final episode? After the inn is turned into a golf course, Dick gets hit on the head with a golf ball. He wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, his wife on the Bob Newhart Show! To be fair, until that moment the final episode is stupid. It feels rushed and a little contrived (though Daryl and Daryl finally have a line!). But those last five minutes make up for it. That scene with Newhart and Pleshette is just gold! So which was the better show? Newhart seemed to know what it was and wrote good stories around memorable characters that fans loved. The whole town was a character in many ways. Coach was not as even and as I noted many epiosdes would not have our favorite characters in it. Was there ever a Newhart where Larry,Daryl, Daryl never appeared? It made it harder to like the characters which is maybe why Newhart’s were a bit more loved and remembered. Newhart has a stronger legacy and also it went out on top with a finale that became a part of TV history. Coach dragged through a horrible last two or three years until it finally stopped. The last three seasons SUCKED! And besides, Coach paid homage to Newart in its series finale. You have to admire that. I loved Coach but I have to respect and admire that the better show is clear….
This has been a long time coming and I hope you liked it my friends.

By richb

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