Night Court: The Complete First Season (1984)

Created by Reinhold Weege
Starring Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Karen Austin, Richard Moll, Selma Diamond


Released by: Warner Brothers.
Rating: NR.
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Fans of the show should own.

Harry Stone (Anderson) is the new judge appointed to preside over the "Night Court" cases. There's just one problem: he's only 33, and got his job purely on a lark, as the outgoing mayor started filling every vacant bench. He's unorthodox, he's a bit manic, and his staff thinks he's insane. Trouble is, he appears to get results. Hijinks, of course, follow.

This is one of those shows that you watched to see the key characters. In fact, since I remember it mostly from reruns, it's the guys I remember: Harry Anderson, Richard Moll (hard to forget him, right?), and John Larroquette. Considering how old I was when this thing was airing, I probably remember Larroquette mostly because he was the purveyor of many a sexual innuendo joke. But it was hard to not have fond memories of Harry Anderson, the young guy who was apt to throw a magic trick into the mix. For me, it was these three that formed the backbone, especially of this first season. The lovely Selma Diamond was a character and a half, but as creator Weege points out, she didn't have much to say: but every line was a zinger.

However, I find while re-watching the show now all these years later, when it stayed on the comedy side of the fence--the goofball, oddball variety with plenty to sprinkle around on all the characters--it soared. When it tries to be more serious or dramatic, though, it really misses its mark. Notice how in the pilot episode Karen Austin's character is so, so incredibly serious about her turn of heart--the show takes a moment to come to a grinding halt while she has her Emmy moment. When the shows sticks to its roots, however, it excels.

We get two features here. First up is the commentary from Weege on the pilot episode, and while it would have been nice to bring some of the cast back for one, this is filled with good info that any fan is going to love. For example, you see how well Harry Anderson fit into the role of Harry Stone...and you think, well, up and coming stand-up comic gets a pilot script written around him. But that was all a coincidence, right down to the character being named Harry. Weege's insight into what exactly the studios and all contribute to a show is priceless.

You do get Anderson and Weege and others in the retrospective docu, that clocks in at around eighteen minutes. While the majority of background goodness Weege gave out in the commentary, this is nice to have on the set regardless.

Bottom line: if you're a fan of the show, you're going to want to own this. If you've got some distance from the show and are unsure, do grab it as a rental first.

(UK) (CAN)

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