Night Court (S1)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Classic TV sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1992 featuring a wacky, eccentric, Mel Tormé-loving judge named Harold T. Stone (Anderson), a sex-crazed, self-centered assistant D.A. named Dan Fielding (Larroquette) and a wall of a bailiff named Bull (Moll). It would take until season 2 (1985) for us to be honored by the presence of the beautiful sex goddess that was Markie Post. Along with CHEERS, this was easily the best sitcom of the eighties…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Usually, when reviewing an entire season of a sitcom, I watch only 2-3 episodes to get familiar with it again and then start writing my review. This wasn’t the case with NIGHT COURT. As soon as the memorable opening theme rang in, I was hooked and gladly sat through all 13 episodes of season 1. I was under the impression, like many other sitcoms, that season 1 wasn’t going to measure up to the quality of the later seasons but this wasn’t the case. I not only laughed out loud at many instances but was surprised at how genuinely touching the ‘message’ in every episode was. More than any other sitcom in the 80s, NIGHT COURT did the best job at conveying a simple and sweet moral into its storyline while maintaining the same level of the silly and even sillier in all of its episodes. Seeing all those madcap pimps, hookers, thieves, perverts and convicts go head to head with the off the wall staff in the night court brought me back to a simpler time in my life when shows like NEWHART, ALF, CHEERS and NIGHT COURT gave me that sweet boost of laughter and joy that every pre-teen rightly deserves in his prime-time upbringing. I compare these shows to the junk on TV nowadays and I just want to puke…
Season 1 also boasts a cast that you might not be as familiar with from the later seasons. The court clerk is not Mac yet (played by the great Charles Robinson) but a cutie-pie love interest for Harry named Lana. You’ll remember her as soon as you see her. Also, before Marsha Warfield came along, there were a couple of other, older bailiffs that accompanied Bull and in season 1 the chain-smoking bailiff is wonderfully played by veteran actress Selma Diamond – her character’s name is also, Selma. Finally, season 1 had the charming Paula Kelly playing Liz, the legal aid attorney, a role that would later go to Markie Post (and so began my earliest childhood sexual fantasies). As cool as the opening credits to CHEERS were, I still have to give NIGHT COURT the edge for its bad-ass and daring opening sequence featuring drunks and drug pushers, most of which are committing malfeasances. Also, before I get engaged, my future wife will have to agree that the NIGHT COURT theme will be what will be playing as she walks down the aisle, this will not be up for debate. This sitcom is one of the funniest and most original shows I was lucky enough to grow up with. God bless Dan Fielding: the coolest character in television history!
Audio Commentary on Pilot Episode: Series creator/writer/executive producer/director Reinhold Weege tells us how the show came together during his commentary on the pilot episode entitled All You Need Is Love. Weege discusses the casting as well as the many similarities the show has to real night court sessions in Manhattan. He also talks about why certain characters in the pilot episode and the first season didn’t necessarily go on to become regulars in the series. Weege comes off as a fun guy and his commentary is very enjoyable to listen to. He addresses many questions I had about the show and you can’t ask for more than that on a commentary track.
Night Court: Comedy’s Swing Shift (18 minutes): Reinhold Weege and a much heavier Harry Anderson (he’s twice the size now!) discuss the genesis of the show, the many actors and characters involved, as well as the impact it made on their lives. A pretty decent featurette but I’m disappointed that there weren’t more actors contributing to it. This could have and should have been much better…
If, like me, you think it’s a crime that we don’t get nearly enough Harry Anderson in our diets nowadays, then go out and buy yourself this 2-disc set of the first season of NIGHT COURT. It’s got all the laughs and wonderful 80s sitcom innocence that you’ve been longing for.