Lost in Translation 441: Revisiting Night Court (2023)

Back in March, Lost in Translation reviewed the first few episodes of the new Night Court. The series had promise that it was beginning to live up to. How has it fared since?

As mentioned in the first look at Night Court, comedies take time to get going. With dramas, the plot can smooth over problems with characterization in the early episodes, giving the show time to settle. Comedies tend to be character-driven, even in workplace comedies like Night Court, Cheers, and Taxi. Cheers and the original Night Court needed a few seasons to get settled. The actors need time to get used to the characters and the writers need time to get used to the new show. Once everything settles in, the comedy can forge on. Sometimes it’s a imperceptible change. Sometimes, a specific episode can be pinpointed as the one where everything finally clicked together. With the new Night Court, the series can be seen coming together and by the time of the eighth episode, “Blood Moon Binga”, the actors and writers are comfortable with the characters and situation.

Eight episodes of a sixteen episode season is a long time, but the series could rely on leaning on the relationship between Abby and Dan, along with Dan’s transition to defense attorney. This gave time for Gurgs (Lacretta), Olivia (India de Beaufort), and Neil (Kapil Talwalkar) to work out details and their actors to get comfortable in the roles. Eight episodes isn’t an unusual amount of time to do so; most sitcoms don’t have the luxury of having a returning actor reprising a main character. John Larroquette is more than capable of carrying the series over the rough spots.

With this time, Olivia fleshed out, becoming an ambitious prosecutor with her eyes on a well paying private practice partnership. Neil’s quirks became sympathetic and he worked out issues he had surrounding Abby. Gurgs showed depths, including jazz saxophone and being well-read on top of being a people person. The process is still ongoing, but the three characters aren’t as nebulous as they started and have a direction to go in the next season.

“Blood Moon Binga” brought back a staple in the original Night Court, the night of weird cases. Everything clicked in the episode, with a balance between action in the court room, the A-plot, and the B-plot. The series set up several potential recurring characters, including Wendie Malick’s Julianne, who is out to ruin Dan’s life for prosecuting her, Faith Ford as Gina, Abby’s mother, and Kurt Fuller as Jeff DeWitt, a New York District Attorney with a tough-on-crime stance taken to extremes.

The first season of the rebooted Night Court did a lot of heavy lifting, setting up the premise, establishing all the characters and re-introducing the mature Dan Fielding. The series has been picked up for a second season, which should have more room to maneuver now that the situation and characters are established. The series is taking a risk, trying to keep up with a beloved original, but the new Night Court has made a great first step.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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