The original Night Court is one of my favorite shows of all time. As Dan Fielding (John Laroquette) says in the revival, “Night court is a nonstop freak show.” Yes, it is Dan. That’s part of its appeal. While the new Night Court needs more time to find its footing, the first two episodes are a great start.
Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) is believable as Abby Stone, the daughter of former Night Court judge Harry Stone. She’s not as quirky as her father. You won’t be seeing her pulling rabbits out of a hat in the courtroom. If the writers were making Abby, Harry Jr. they would be trying too hard. Instead, they opted to have Abby share her fathers optimism and belief in the best of humanity when people are at their worst. At the moment, Abby and Dan constantly mention the deceased elder Judge Stone. Hopefully, as the series progresses, the need to mention Harry Stone subsides and the character’s form their own relationships outside of his legacy.
Currently, much of the focus is on Dan Fielding. There is an awareness that the new Night Court would not have worked without John Laroquette (Me, Myself & I) returning because his character ties the past with the present. Dan is still Dan, the lovable curmudgeon who unsuccessfully tries to convince everyone he is a misanthrope. However, gone are his horndog days when he would do any woman in the tri-state area. He’s more mature and begrudgingly accepts the role as the new public defender and Abby’s unofficial mentor.
As for the rest of the cast, we don’t really get to know them in the first two episodes as they are secondary to Abby/Dan plots. What is important is that no one is unlikable. Most of the characters are unique. The only new character that immediately reminds you of their predecessor is Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous (Lacretta), who at first appears to have a lot in common with Roz as they are both Black women who don’t suffer fools gladly, but that’s also a requirement for their job as bailiffs.
Unfortunately, much of the original Night Court cast has passed away, so fans can’t expect cameos from old favorites. It’s sad and their presence is missed, yet it forces the writers to create new characters and force Dan to grow. Unlike the revivals of Murphy Brown and Will & Grace, Night Court doesn’t try to update an old show for the present day with the old characters frustrated that society left them behind. Dan – the sole holdover – not only isn’t living in the past, he doesn’t want to and had moved on from his days in night court until Abby summoned him back.
The 2023 revival of Night Court is just as wacky as the original, yet remains mostly in reality like the first eight years of the original. Fans will be glad that the streets of Night Court‘s New York City are filled with the next generation of weirdos ready to be hauled into Judge Abby Stone’s court for a chance to explain themselves.