Unlike most shows, I can still remember the first time I ever saw Night Court. I was flipping channels and I stopped on a strange sight. A very tall bald man in uniform carrying a ventriloquist puppet version of himself. Later I would learn that this zen-like idiot savant bailiff is Bull Shannon (Richard Moll) who would quickly become my favorite character on the show.
It case you were trapped in a cave in the ’80s, Night Court follows the crazy antics of the colorful characters that work the night shift at a Manhattan Court. This motley crew is led by the very unorthodox Judge Harry T. Stone who has a penchant for bad jokes and magic tricks and an unhealthy love of Mel Torme. There is also the misogynistic and lecherous prosecuting attorney, Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), the naive and mullet toting defending attorney, Christine Sullivan (Markie Post), the bailiffs: the aforementioned Bull and for one season only, Flo (Florence Halop) and Mac (Charles Robinson), the court clerk.
This is a really solid season of this show, with very few duds. It starts strong with the introduction of Flo and Christine to the cast and ends strong with a two-parter wherein four women are all about to give birth while stuck in the court during a hurricane. And there’s tons of great stuff in-between as well. From dwarf bosses and long lost friends with sex changes to crazy rock stars and orangutan’s the parade of wacky characters never ends on this show.
And what would a great season of Night Court be without at least one appearance from the likes of Mel Torme and Yakov Smirnoff? Well they each show up once this season and provide tons of great laughs.
This is a classic ’80s sitcom and thusly some of the jokes are very dated, they might go over your head, but even if you don’t get them all, they still bring a few chuckles.
Episodes: Disc 1:
Hello, Goodbye (9/26/85)
While Harry searches for someone to take Selma’s place, Bull goes on a bender to mourn his friend’s passing.
The Hostage (10/3/85)
A confused man who claims he’s from Saturn gets his hands on an evidence gun and takes Dan hostage.
Dad’s First Date (10/17/85)
Christine freaks out when she learns that her dad had hist first date in years, then things get worse when he’s arrested for soliciting a prostitute.
Mac And Quon Le: No Reservations (10/24/85)
Mac needs to borrow money from his millionaire grandfather to open a restaurant, but he’s worried what he’ll thing of his wife, Quon Le.
Halloween Too (10/31/85)
In what’s easily the least funny episode of the season, Harry falls quickly in love with a woman but soon finds out she’s a witch.
Best Of Friends (11/7/85)
Dan is excited to visit with his old college buddy, Chip. But his happiness is quickly destroyed when he learns that Chip is now Charlene.
Dan’s Boss (11/14/85)
When Dan meets his boss, a dwarf, the short jokes begin to flow. But his boss might end up having the last laugh.
Up On The Roof (11/28/85)
Things get crazy when a rock star cancels his near by concert and ends up being brought in. Harry tries to deal with the rock star’s shrink, but the shrink might not have the rock stars best interests in mind.
Wheels Of Justice: Part 1 (12/5/85) Wheels Of Justice: Part 2 (12/12/85)
Harry and the other are all worried that they might not get paid. But when Harry can’t use the law to help a family in need he questions whether or not he want’s to continue being a judge.
Walk Away, Renee (12/19/85)
Bull has fallen in love, too bad she’s a prostitute who is only interested in getting his money. Now Harry has to break the bad news to him.
Dan’s Escort (1/9/86)
To make extra money Dan becomes and escort-for-hire, but the man with no morals must face a moral crisis when his aging client want to sleep with him. Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite Russian, Yakov, shows up with a crisis of his own.
The Night Off (1/16/86)
Harry is hoping for a quite night off, but when his substitute judge appears to be losing his mind, it’s up to Harry to sort the poor guy out.
Harry And Leon (1/23/86)
Harry learns that Leon the shoeshine boy is an orphan and decides to be his foster father.
The Apartment (1/30/86)
Harry decides to host a birthday party for Dan and everything goes wrong. Then the social worker stops by to check on Leon.
Leon, We Hardly Knew Ye (2/6/86)
Leon gets adoptive parents much quicker than Harry thought, and this makes him sad. At the same time Mel Torme is in buildling but he and Harry keep missing each other.
The Mugger (2/20/86)
When Christine is mugged she wonders if she can defend people any more.
Could This Be Magic? (2/27/86)
Harry meets his childhood idol who turns out to be a good-for-nothing.
Monkey Business (3/6/86)
A scientist and his orangutan are brought into the court and Bull quickly befriends the orangutan.
Flo’s Retirement (3/13/86)
Flo is being forced to retire but she doesn’t want to so Harry tries to think of a way to save her job.
Hurricane: Part 1 (5/1/86) Hurricane: Part 1 (5/1/86)
A hurricane traps for expecting mothers in the court and they all go into labor so it’s up to the gang to help deliver all the babies.
The show is presented in a 1.33:1 fullscreen format. It’s not a bad looking show for how old it is. It looks and sounds like you’d expect it to.
I loved this show when I was a kid and hadn’t seen it in at least fifteen years. Frankly, I was surprised how many episodes I remembered. It was like visiting with an group of old friends and I quite enjoyed myself. I’m not sure if I’d recommend buying the show, but it’s certainly worth renting. Sadly, there are zero special features.
Warner Bros. presents Night Court: The Complete Third Season. Created by: Reinhold Weege. Starring: Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Markie Post, Charles Robinson and Florence Halop. Running time: 526 min. on three discs. Released on DVD: February 26, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years