Night Court appeared on the scene at NBC in 1984 and was to last 8 seasons. If you thought it looked and sounded a lot like Barney Miller, you won’t be surprised to learn that a number of key people, including creator Reinhold Weege, came from that classic cop comedy. Several key elements of Miller can be found in Night Court. The themes are almost identical with both beginning with an easily identifiable bass run. The most important imported element from Miller was the constant parade of the kookiest and craziest criminals this side of the Cuckoo’s Nest.From a hick farmer played by then beginner Brent Spiner to hookers with hearts, Night Court relied heavily on the eccentric character to provide most of its laughs.
Harry Stone (Anderson) is a young hip judge who almost blunders into a judgeship of a Manhattan evening session courtroom. The role appears tailor fit for Anderson’s style of humor. The character even retained Anderson’s flair for amateur magic. He was always trying to bring levity to even the most dire of circumstances. Joining him in his courtroom was prosecutor Dan Fielding, played by the extremely funny John Larroquette. He was a material man with an overactive lust for the ladies. He was self centered and always looking to gain from someone else’s misfortune. He would often find himself having to suck up to the young judge who he found too footloose with the law. His groveling always brought the judge a perverse pleasure. The court was presided over by two bailiffs. Bull was played by Richard Moll. He was a mountain of a man with a bald head. While he might look and act like a monster who would eat little babies, he was in fact, a gentle and often childish character with an IQ lower than his shoe size. His partner and mentor was Selma, played by the raspy voiced Selma Diamond. Selma was a no nonsense, say what she wanted to, chain smoking authority in the courtroom. Unfortunately, Diamond would pass away after this second season, and this is your last chance to catch the character. Charles Robinson joined the cast in the second year as the court’s new clerk. He was likely the most “normal” member of the cast. Throughout its run there were a rather large number of actresses to play the public defender role in the series. Eventually that role went to Markie Post who kept it for the longest time. In season two it was Billy Young playing a very awkward Ellen Foley. The character never clicks with any of the others, and she will also be gone at the season’s conclusion.
The cases and characters for season two are hilarious: Markie Post actually introduces us to her future regular character in Christine And Mac. An eccentric lottery winner picks Harry to decide who should get a cut of his winnings in Pick A Number. If there already weren’t enough kooks in the house, rumors of a big payday will bring them out for sure. Harry’s antics finally catch up with him when he’s called before a judge’s disciplinary board to answer for his methods in Harry On Trial. Dan finds out what it means to be on the other side of his sexual advances when a blizzard traps him in an elevator with a man who is attracted to him in The Blizzard. Mac marries Quon Le in the episode, Take My Wife, Please. Dan’s “dead” parents show up to show some pride in their son in Dan’s Parents. Harry deals with a mental patient strike to protest abusive treatment in Nuts About Harry. The Hulk himself Lou Ferrigno stars as a wrestler when Bull quits his job to wrestle professionally in Battling Bailiff. Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff makes one of his laugh riot appearances in World War III. It’s all waiting for you in this laugh fest we lovingly call Night Court Season Two.
The full frame aspect ratio is, unfortunately, not a very good looking presentation. The picture is soft, and colors are pretty muted here. I guess they look as good as they did in their broadcast days.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track here is pretty much a utility effort. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it never really shines.
It’s a nostalgia trip all the way. I wasn’t sure how well this stuff would hold up. I didn’t catch the first release and honestly haven’t seen this show since it left the air in prime time in 1992. I’m happy to report that it holds up just fine. You don’t want to have to think too hard here, and Night Court won’t tax your brain. We often pine away for the “good old days”. That kind of thinking can leave you feeling down and sad. There’s one sure fire way to cure it all. This release will give you a shot of comedy, and after all, everyone knows that “laughter is the best medicine”.