Night Court

Night Court NBC





Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Trying a case at any time can be difficult. But at night, it’s downright looney. With the endless number of peculiar people and the string of weird cases attached to them, holding court at night takes someone really special. And no one is more fit for the job than Abby Stone.

Abby has just moved to Manhattan to be the judge for night court. She’s not a saint, but she’s about as cheerful and optimistic as one. She learned everything she knows from her father, the late Harry Stone, who was a judge in the very court where Abby now sits. And she’s ready to get her nighttime hands dirty. 

But on her first day, her public defender quits. So Abby asks her father’s former prosecutor, Dan Fielding, to dust off his past and join her in court as the new public defender. Dan initially says no. After all, he has no interest in coming out of his semi-retirement. But a trip to his old stomping grounds has him rethinking his life. And if anyone could make Dan believe that he’s still got what it takes to defend a few cases in this very trying environment, it’s Abby. 

A Night To Remember 

It’s never too late to teach an old show new tricks, at least not according to NBC’s reboot of Night Court. A show that originally aired in the mid-80s, Night Court focused on the quirky, fun-loving judge Stone and his prosecutor, Dan Fielding (a role for which actor John Laroquette won four Emmys). 

In this reboot, Laroquette is back as Dan Fielding, and working alongside Harry’s daughter. But the rest of the cast is new. Judge Abby’s crew includes Dan as the pessimistic, crotchety new public defender; Olivia as the narcissistic, judgemental district attorney; Donna ‘Gurgs’ as the court’s silly, easily perplexed bailiff; and Neil as the sometimes aspiring but mostly impatient clerk. 

As with many NBC shows, this one seems to find its footing on slapstick humor, laugh tracks and objectionable content that ranges from sexual jokes and mild profanity to heartfelt moments and the occasional sweet spot.   

I’d like to say that there’s wit and charm here like the original, but I haven’t found much. The writing is weak, and the laugh track, though annoying, is sometimes necessary to cue the audience when to chuck. But even so, we still find some sweet moments. 

The heart of this show seems to be found in Dan. He’s suffered a lot of loss in his life and genuinely dislikes people. But now he must work to see the best in people as a public defender, instead of his former work as a prosecutor. 

And then of course there’s the eternally optimistic Abby who says of people that “it’s hard not to like them when you know what’s going on underneath.” 

And while that sentiment is lovely, it may not be enough for families who want more depth and less profanity and off-putting humor.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 17, 2023 – S1, Ep1: “Pilot”

Abby Stone comes on as the new judge for night court and convinces her father’s old, pessimistic prosecutor, Dan, to restart his career as a public defender alongside her. 

Dan makes it clear that he has no interest in coming back to night court, calling it a “non-stop freak show.” He also shares with Abby that his wife died years ago after she shares that her father also died years before. A woman says that she’s charming but also a “self-centered narcissist.” 

A man being tried for lewd conduct flashes Abby while in court. (We don’t see anything critical.) A public defender wishes she could try a case not “involving genitals.” Dan makes a joke about a stick being stuck up someone’s nether-regions, but the profanity is bleeped out. He also says that the walls of the night court would say “kill me” if they could talk. 

A psychic is tried in court. Words like “h—,” “jacka–,” “a–,” “b–tards,” “freaking” and “stupid” are used once each.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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