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Series / Night Court (2023)

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Court is back in session.

Night Court is a Sequel Series sitcom on NBC, developed by Dan Rubin from the 198492 series of the same name created by Reinhold Weege.

Melissa Rauch stars as Judge Abby Stone, the daughter of the late Harry Stone, who follows in her dad's footsteps as she presides over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court and tries to bring order to its crew of oddballs and cynics. John Larroquette reprises his role as Dan Fielding, who's convinced by Abby to return to practice, this time as a public defender. Also in the cast are India de Beaufort as assistant district attorney Olivia Moore, Kapil Talwaker as court clerk Neil, and Lacretta as bailiff Donna "Gurgs" Gurganous.

The series premiered on January 17, 2023. A second season has been ordered.

Previews: First Look, Trailer

"All rise, TV Tropes Court Part 2 is now in session, the Honorable Judge Abigail Stone presiding":

  • Accidental Public Confession: In the third episode, Abby's attempts to reform a repeat offender threatens to expose his identity as a cop going undercover. Neil tries to whisper this to Abby, but accidentally says it over her microphone so the entire courtroom hears it.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Abby confesses that she's an alcoholic in recovery and tearfully shares that she lost a lot of time with her father because of it.
    • Dan tells Abby that his late wife Sarah was in recovery well before they ever met.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: In "The Apartment", Dan reveals to Olivia that he lost out on a partnership at an ampersand law firm because he got loaded at a business lunch and accidentally stabbed a senior partner while trying to shuck oysters.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In "Justice Buddies", Abby and Dan try to teach the young protesters about making a difference by working within the system. Abby's bad acting makes the kids wonder if they're watching a play.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the pilot, Dan is first seen serving people at a coffee shop, seemingly leaving law behind. Then he serves a customer with papers, revealing that he's actually a process server going undercover.
  • Beard of Sorrow: When he first appears, Dan sports a full beard, the result of not really having any reason to shave for so long. After Abby successfully badgers him into becoming a public defender, he shaves it down to something more manageable.
  • Benevolent Boss: Abby, who brings snacks into the court and wants to be friends with everybody. Taken to an extreme in "Justice Buddies", when Gurgs decides to do the exact opposite of her job and join her tween nephew's political protest, and Abby just lets it go.
  • Character Development: Dan has mellowed out considerably over the years and is no longer an irrepressible horndog. Ironically, he now finds being on the receiving end of leering glances and lewd comments to be unpleasant.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Donna Gurgs is a large black female bailiff, much like Roz Russell from the original series. However, Donna is outwardly cheerful and prone to physical gags, unlike the Deadpan Snarker Roz. If anything, Gurgs seems to be a Composite Character melding the physicality and snark of Roz with the naïveté, cheerfulness and Cloudcuckoolander tendencies of Bull Shannon.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Dan's humble beginnings in the swamps of Louisiana — a source of embarrassment for him in the original series — is brought up, with Gurgs presenting him with a meal of hog's head cheese, stewed chicken feet, and fried gizzards, to Dan's delight. Abby also brings up that his original first name was "Reinhold".
    • "Two Peas in a Pod" mentions Dan running for city council and losing to a dead guy, which was a plot from the first season of the original show.
  • Courtroom Antics: Manhattan Criminal Court Part 2 is as wacky as it ever was, with Abby having to deal with Dumb Criminals, flashers, brawling twins, flocks of pigeons, Drunk and Disorderly Orc barbarians and much more. Plus, Dan hasn't grown out of all his old ways.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dan is as snarky as ever despite softening out and losing his lecherous ways. Neil and Olivia aren't too behind in the sarcasm department, with many of their remarks revolving around their cynicism from being on the night shift.
  • Death by Origin Story: Dan's late wife Sarah died before the series began due to unknown circumstances.
  • Door Dumb: In "The Apartment", Olivia tries to storm into her rival's chambers to confront her, but the door won't open when she pushes it. Dan has to remind her that it's a pull door.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Abby mentions that she already has experience on the bench, having served as a judge upstate before coming to Manhattan.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In "Marathon-thon-thon-thon-thon", Rand (Abby's boyfriend) says that Neil is volunteering for the marathon because he wants to impress a woman he's got a crush on, but she had a really tall, annoying boyfriend—and he stops as he realizes that that Neil has a crush on Abby and the tall annoying boyfriend is him.
  • Generation Xerox: While less of a kid's birthday magician and more of a perky Girl Scout troop leader, Abby is very much her father's daughter, even having similar unresolved issues with her father much like Harry did with his own dad due to his untimely death.
  • Hands in Pockets: In the second episode, Nicolai the janitor paints a mural of Supreme Court justices, but gives them baseball gloves because he can't paint hands.
  • Heel Realization: In "Justice Buddies", Abby deals with preteen protestors who've taken over her court for a cause that she agrees with, and realizes that there is no way that she can solve the dilemma without looking bad.
  • Hidden Depths: Abby's bubbly exterior hides a past of alcoholism, which she admits cost her a lot of time with her father while he was alive.
  • Hold The Floor: In "Train Court", Gurgs tries to hold the last case until Abby, who is late due to a stalled train, arrives because ice skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are witnesses, and she heard that Abby was a fan. Dan at first refuses to go along because he made reservations for an exclusive restaurant, but eventually he relents and stalls the case until Abby returns.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A newer, much briefer arrangement of the original show's theme, done by Benjamin Larroquette (John's son).
  • Internal Affairs: In "Just Tuesday" Olivia is miffed because the cops in the courtroom have stopped doing her favors, like letting her go through security or letting her park wherever she wants. She thinks it's because of an incident where an undercover cop was outed, but it's actually because IA has been sniffing around, as Olivia finds out at the end of the episode.
  • Irony: In the original series, Dan was a Handsome Lech and an Abhorrent Admirer to many female characters, but here he's become a Celibate Hero who keeps getting hit on.
  • It's Personal: In "The Apartment", Olivia is facing a rival from a private law firm, and Dan offers to give her pointers to help with her social anxiety. His motivations are less than altruistic; he lost out at a partnership at that firm and thus wants to see them humiliated.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He denies it as hard as he can, but Dan does care about others. Even as a process server, he gives out legal advice to those he serves papers to so they can avoid punishment. This is what gets Abby to bring him back to Night Court as a public defender.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Abby and her fiance Rand, who still has his own job upstate and can't follow Abby to Manhattan when the series begins.
  • Lost Lenore: Dan is now a widower, having met and married a woman named Sarah in the years between the original series and this revival. In the pilot episode, it's clear that her loss is weighing heavily on him.
  • Malcolm Xerox: In "Justice Buddies", Abby and her team deal with a street artist, Malcolm Richardson (who calls himself "Malcolm FX") who openly confesses to vandalism against a statue of Christopher Columbus so that he can use the trial as a forum for his political views.
  • The Mourning After: Dan still mourns for his late wife Sarah, to the point that he ruins his first date in years because he won't stop talking about her. (Just as well, considering who the date turns out to be.)
  • Not Helping Your Case: Dan is doing his best to get a client cleared of robbery charges. Then the suspect sees a buddy in the gallery and confesses to the crime, to Dan's dismay.
  • Odd Friendship: The bubbly, ditzy Gurgs forms this with the ambitious, neurotic Olivia, bonding over their shared feelings of social anxiety in "Dan v. Dating".
  • One Head Taller: Dan, being played by the 6' 4.5" John Larroquette, towers over everyone else on the show, especially Abby, who isn't even five-feet tall.
  • The Pollyanna: Abby is an irrepressible optimist, convinced that she can use her position as a night court judge to turn people's lives around. The others don't quite share her enthusiasm, particularly not Dan, who insists that he's only there until they find a new public defender.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Harry's ghost looms large over Abby and Dan, to the point where he's practically a character in the show.
    • Dan's late wife Sarah, who never appeared in either show. He met her, married her, and she passed away after the original series, but before this one.
  • Request for Privacy: In "The Apartment", Abby has had a very long day, between the normal stresses of her job and finding out that her boyfriend has had to cancel plans to visit her, but she is trying very hard to keep her usual sunny disposition and not to lose her temper. And then she learns that her attempt to get a new and better apartment has fallen through because her prospective landlord hates judges. Dan and Gurgs happen to be in her chambers as this happens, so she asks them to leave. The camera cuts to outside her chambers, where you can hear a guttural scream of rage and things being thrown around.
  • The Reveal:
    • Abby discovers that her mother is an ex-con who stood before Harry in court and that the two fell in love and married after she'd served her sentence. Also, her full first name isn't Abigail, but Abracadabra.
    • Gurgs deduces that Neil has a crush on Abby.
  • Shipper on Deck: In "Dan v. Dating", Abby tries to set Dan up with a woman with whom he seems to have easy chemistry, because she fears that he's lonely. This show being what it is, the woman turns out to be a criminal he prosecuted years earlier who has sworn vengeance against him.
  • Shout-Out: In the form of pornographic cupcakes, echoing an episode of the original series with a pornographic birthday cake (which itself was echoing a Barney Miller episode written by Reinhold Weege).
  • Silver Fox: According to Olivia, Dan is referred to as a silver fox by multiple women in the courthouse.
  • Spin-Offspring: The show follows Abby Stone, the daughter of Harry Stone, as the main trailer confirms.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • In the second episode, Abby notices that a defendant on trial for public urination had multiple spelling errors on his intake forms, and asks if he's dyslexic. When he confirms that he is, she rules that he's not guilty, as his dyslexia might have made it difficult for him to enter the access code for a locked bathroom nearby and thus his actions were the result of a Potty Failure rather than malicious intent.
    • Dan is able to suss out that Abby is a recovering alcoholic after hearing her say things like "defects of character" which are things his late wife, who was also in recovery, would say. (It's from #6 of AA's 12 Steps.)
  • Subways Suck: In "Train Court", Abby and Olivia get stranded in a subway train when it is stopped due to technical difficulties, and have to deal with the increasingly irate passengers. When a fight over a seat flares up, Abby improvises a courtroom to deal with the matter.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Dan has mellowed out considerably since he last worked with Harry and now offers genuine help to others and heartfelt advice to those he considers friends.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: As Abby talks about her new job while waiting in line in The Teaser to the pilot, we occasionally cut away to Dan at the coffee shop finishing her lines to say the opposite of what she's saying.
  • Unwanted Harem: In the original series, Dan devoted a considerable amount of energy to getting laid, and usually got rejected. In "Dan v. Dating", he suffers the opposite problem: women keep hitting on him, but he's still not really over his late wife. It's also implied that he is no longer the horndog with "the morals of a rutting pig" he was in the '80s and '90s, even without a deceased spouse.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Abby encourages Neil to find some passion in his work and make changes around the courthouse. This results in a ceiling collapse releasing the pigeons roosting inside the space which then wreak havoc in Abby's courtroom.
  • Work Com: The wacky adventures of a New York City night court judge (in her father's old courtroom) and her zany coworkers.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Abby is said to be the daughter of Judge Harold T. Stone, who was single and childless when the original Night Court went off the air in 1992, so she really can't be older than 30. While it isn't impossible, it's pretty darn unlikely that a 30-year-old person would be a New York City judge, even in night court.