Retro Rerun Review: Night Court

Welcome back to another stirring installment of Retro Rerun Review. This week’s randomly selected show is Night Court, a long-running comedy about court that, you know, took place at night. But if that premise isn’t zany enough, it’s in a Manhattan municipal court, no less. IMAGINE THE CHARACTERS. Let’s dive right in. 

The Show: Night Court 

Ran for: 193 episodes (9 seasons) from 1984 to 1992

My Relationship with It: I’m no stranger to Night Court. While I wouldn’t call myself an expert or an aficionado, I can tell you the names of maybe like, half the characters.

This Episode: Season 4, episode 17. “Christine’s Friend” originally aired February, 19th, 1987. 

We cold open with the entire main cast sitting at a table in the… diner? Cafeteria? The eatery located, strangely, within the night court. (Or maybe it’s not weird to have a restaurant in the court house. Thankfully, I have limited experience in this arena.) There is a lot of wise-cracking from John Larroquette, the male-whore attorney, and Harry (Harry Anderson), the judge. Bull, the bailiff, says a couple of stupid things, because that is his gimmick. 

Christine (Markie Post) approaches the table and says she has a friend coming into town— *checks episode title and nods*— and she asks the group to be nice to her. That’s what I always do when I introduce a new friend to another group of friends— I beg mercy. She says, “it’s not like I’m asking you to fall at her feet,” which isn’t a normal thing to say, but then the friend walks up and drops something, and she is SMOKING HOT, and all the dudes at the table dive to the ground to pick up whatever she dropped. 

See, the strangely worded line ONLY made sense because of the actions that followed. I feel like this is the exact opposite of how you’d teach someone to write dialogue, but what do I know. 

Then the credits start. And, guys, I’m not kidding, Night Court has the best theme song. The BEST. I will get it stuck in my head for days at a time and walk around whistling it like a real creep. God is it sexy. I am so horny for this song. 

Anyway, the song ends and no matter how good or bad this episode ends up being, it’ll never be as tasty as that funky bass. 

Christine’s hot friend is walking arm in arm with Harry and Dan (Larroquette). Christine is stuck behind them, all, “wait up, guys!” They don’t care. Dan offers to make children with the lady out of wedlock. Man, what a gross dick. After they both leave, Heather— that’s the friend— says, “they’re so charming!” And Christine says “so were Leopold and Loeb,” which:

  1. No, I don’t think they were, and
  2. What a strange, deep pull. “You know what this sitcom needs? More references to 14-year-olds getting murdered by sadistic teens in real life 63 years ago.”

Heather announces her intention to invite one of the guys to go on a vacation with her. This is all moving very fast. She’s watching court, because I know that’s what I always do when I hang out with friends— I watch them work. 

The first case of the night is a prostitute. Dan acts restrained in her presence, which, I feel like most prosecutors would? Or maybe prosecutors regularly lust after street-workers. I’m not sure. But Christine thought Dan would comment on her “zooomers.” Yes, she calls the prostitute’s breasts “zoomers.” Heather comes up to the bench—court is very casual at night, it would seem— and says she’s leaving. Harry makes a terrible “window washer charged with streaking” joke. She invites them to a party being hosted by “Roland Jeffries, the artist?!” As she walks away, Harry suggests “she kinda takes the wrinkles out of the ol’ robe,” which might be a reference to his boner, which is unfortunate because we should never be forced to consider the late Harry Anderson’s penis. Christine explains that Heather mentioned taking one of them “upstate” for the weekend and Dan does a really bad dance, like something a grandfather might do if he’s trying to bitch about NFL touchdown celebrations. 

Later, in the judge’s chambers, Harry is sprucing up and singing what I presume to be a Mel Torme song. (Mel Torme was a thing on this show, in case you’d forgotten.) Dan comes in and Harry, in a real shit-bag move, tries to stick him with a bunch of work. That’s right, a pile of work on the night of the big Roland Jeffries the Artist party. Dan calls him out on it, and Harry agrees he was only doing it because he’s afraid of the competition. They shake hands, only too hard-like. 

Now they’re at the Roland Jeffries the Artist’s party, and oh hey, there’s Bull and Roz for some inexplicable reason. Roland Jeffries comes over and I kinda feel like somehow modern-day Martin Short found a time machine and took his current self back to 1987 to play the role. Dan is gushing to possibly-current-day Martin Short about some art that he loves at the party, but it turns out to be like, some sort of chocolate ice cream serving station and not art at all. Oh, Daniel.

Now there’s a weird scene with Mac, who also works at the night court, and a man who claims to know him “from a past life.” All kidding aside, why in the hell are all the courthouse employees here? Are they going to explain this?

I don’t think they do. But hey, Roz and Bull are dancing and the audience is laughing it up. 

Dan and Heather get some appetizers. Christine takes off her coat and she she’s wearing a sexy dress. Dan comments on her breasts. Harry and Heather go dance. Dan is eating… ice cream? There sure is a lot of ice cream at this party. And strangely, I haven’t seen a single person drinking booze. I just don’t know my mid-to-late 80s Manhattan art parties, I guess. Dan cuts in to dance with Heather and he hornily tells her that he hasn’t worn underwear since 1968. Apparently she finds this appealing because she tells Dan that she picks him. He does another old-man touchdown celebration sort of thing. Then Mr. Dewey from Saved by the Bell comes over and asks Harry to dance. So I guess Harry was gay this whole time. 

Later, Dan is playing the piano and everyone is gathered round really enjoying it. Nobody is drinking, still. Bull dances by. Christine and her focal-point breasts and Harry are sitting at a table being sad. And then, no shit, Mel Torme comes up to their table. He wants a chair so he can go sit near Dan, who he extolls as being “the most fun, interesting guy.” The Velvet Fucking Fog, ladies and gentlemen. 

Christine says, “the good news is, things couldn’t get any worse,” and then Dan is like, “hey, everybody— Mel’s gotta go, let’s conga to his plane!” And they do a conga line and that’s the strange end to this weird episode. 

Would I Watch Another Episode? Sure. This was… not a great episode. But I have also seen enough Night Court to know this wasn’t one of their better efforts. Too much Dan, the competition for a girl storyline was cliche, the ending felt like it was supposed to be a dream sequence that they forgot to fully make into a dream sequence. 

Grade: 5/10

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