Classic sitcom fans got some exciting news last year when NBC announced that they were reviving their multi-Emmy-winning series Night Court! With Melissa Rauch and her production company at the helm, the new series got fans of the original onboard with the announcement that John Larroquette would be returning to his award-winning role as Dan Fielding.
Set to take place 35 years after the finale of the original show, the new Night Court follows the late Judge Harry Stone’s daughter Abby as she follows in his footsteps to take charge of the night shift at a Manhattan arraignment court. As a lover of the original, I was ecstatic to hear that the courtroom was making a comeback, but this time with Melissa Rauch starring as the judge. Let’s dive into our spoiler-free review of the brand-new Night Court.
As a fan of Melissa Rauch and a firm believer in the fact that John Larroquette is always worth watching, I had been cautiously optimistic about the series. That being said, after watching the first six episodes I can confidently tell anyone who was on the fence about the show that it is completely worth taking a chance on!
Opening on Abby’s first trip through the courthouse’s security check line – a feature the original’s courthouse did not have – the new show makes it clear from the outset that we’re not in the ’80s or ’90s anymore. However, fans of the original don’t be afraid. Dan Rubin (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and his writing team brought the essence of classic Night Court into the present with them. I laughed and smiled my way through each of the episodes, while simultaneously being impressed by how relevant the show managed to be. From a TikTok star in the courtroom to Dan’s Spotify account to political activism, the show doesn’t shy away from its modern makeover.
Also, while fans of the original knew going in that Larroquette’s return as Dan Fielding would be a can’t miss moment, Rauch and the rest of the courtroom gang work seamlessly together to brilliantly bring the familiar courtroom back to life. Rauch’s Abby Stone is wonderfully reminiscent of the late Harry Anderson’s Judge Stone, while putting her own spin on the role of a lighthearted, yet eccentric judge. Watching her interactions with Larroquette is one of the highlights of the show, as the two have a wonderful onscreen chemistry that brings their character’s potentially awkward but touching relationship to a whole new level. Besides, seeing Larroquette’s aged up, more sedate, buts still definitely Dan, version of Dan is a unique pleasure for fans of the original Night Court. Plus, after coming off the fan-favorite Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist last year, Kapil Talwalker and India de Beaufort are back on our screens as the highly competent but socially clumsy court clerk Neil and the ambitious yet lonely prosecuting attorney Olivia. Talwalker’s Neil is the perfect naïve foil to de Beaufort’s snarky, self-centered Olivia who always has a comment for Neil’s unique social choices. However, the courtroom wouldn’t be complete without at least one bailiff, and Lacretta’s Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous is absolutely perfect! A mix between the original show’s main bailiffs, Gurgs is a wonderful mix of Bull, the not-so-bright but loyal and well-meaning bailiff, and Roz, the street-smart, tough but loveable bailiff with the driest sense of humor you’ve ever heard. She really rounds out the courtroom with her willingness to support the rest of the team in whatever they need, while still making questionable decisions that set her, or others, up for her to make jokes about later. The core cast of characters is so perfectly balanced, and the casting for each role was absolutely outstanding!
The show definitely focuses more on the people than the cases the way you might have expected from early seasons of the original show. That being said, these first episodes do see a good variety of odd case moments including a werewolf, a DND (drunk and disorderly) while playing DND, and even a pair of vampires! However, we spend more time outside the courtroom following the characters and what they get up to than we do sitting in the courtroom. This really plays to the show’s advantage as we get to know the characters first, before opening the door for more crazy courtroom antics as the show goes on. Besides, some of the cases from the original show just wouldn’t fly on TV today, and starting with character development gives the writers more time to be creative with the cases and how they play to the characters.
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All in all, you will find me watching every episode of the show when it starts airing on NBC on Tuesday, January 17th, and then rewatching them every chance I get. Any show that makes me laugh as much as Night Court does is an instant win in my book, and I will not hesitate to recommend it to anyone – whether they’ve seen the original show or not.