Night Court

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Night Court
Night Court title screen.jpg
Created byReinhold Weege
StarringHarry Anderson
Karen Austin
John Larroquette
Paula Kelly
Richard Moll
Selma Diamond
Ellen Foley
Charles Robinson
Markie Post
Florence Halop
Marsha Warfield
Opening themeJack Elliott
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes193 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time30 minutes
(with commercials)
Production company(s)Starry Night Productions (1984–1989)
Warner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runJanuary 4, 1984 – May 31, 1992
 
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For the American film, see Night Court (film).
Night Court
Night Court title screen.jpg
Created byReinhold Weege
StarringHarry Anderson
Karen Austin
John Larroquette
Paula Kelly
Richard Moll
Selma Diamond
Ellen Foley
Charles Robinson
Markie Post
Florence Halop
Marsha Warfield
Opening themeJack Elliott
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes193 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time30 minutes
(with commercials)
Production company(s)Starry Night Productions (1984–1989)
Warner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runJanuary 4, 1984 – May 31, 1992

Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984, to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift of a Manhattan court, presided over by the young, unorthodox Judge Harold T. "Harry" Stone (played by Harry Anderson). It was created by comedy writer Reinhold Weege, who had previously worked on Barney Miller in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Background[edit]

Night Court, according to the first season DVD, was created without comedian/magician Harry Anderson in mind; but Anderson auditioned with the claim that he was Harry Stone. Anderson had developed a following with his performances on Saturday Night Live and made several successful appearances as con man "Harry the Hat" on another NBC sitcom, Cheers. (For the first several years of its run, Night Court aired on NBC Thursday nights after Cheers, which had moved to the time slot before Night Court to accommodate the new series, which started as a mid-season replacement in January 1984.) In later seasons, while Anderson remained the key figure, John Larroquette became the breakout personality[citation needed], winning a number of awards and many fans for his performance as the lecherous Dan Fielding.

The comedy style on Night Court changed as the series progressed. During its initial seasons, the show was often compared to Barney Miller. In addition to being created by a writer of that show, Night Court (like Barney Miller) was set in New York City, featured quirky, often dry, humor and dealt with a staff who tried to cope with a parade of eccentric, often neurotic criminals and complainants. Furthering this comparison, these characters were routinely played by character actors who had made frequent guest appearances on Barney Miller, including Stanley Brock, Philip Sterling, Peggy Pope, and Alex Henteloff. But, while the characters appearing in the courtroom (and the nature of their transgressions) were often whimsical, bizarre or humorously inept, the show initially took place in the "real world". In an early review of the show, Time magazine called Night Court, with its emphasis on non-glamorous, non-violent petty crime, the most realistic law show on the air.

Gradually, however, Night Court abandoned its initial "real world" setting, and changed to what could best be described as broad, almost slapstick comedy. Logic and realism were frequently sidelined for more surreal humor, such as having the cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote, as a defendant and convicting him for harassment of The Road Runner with an admonition to find a meal by some other means (this was done as a joke because Night Court was videotaped at Warner Brothers, who owned the rights to the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons). In the opening episode of Season 4, a ventriloquist dummy talks on his own without the ventriloquist to Dan, only to freak him out and make him shout and back away slowly down the hall.

The show featured several defendants who appeared before the court again and again—notably the Wheelers, June and Bob (Brent Spiner), who initially pretended to be stereotypical hicks from West Virginia; but they were later revealed as Yugoslavians and at one point even ran a concession stand in the courthouse. When asked by Harry why they claimed West Virginia at first, Bob replies, "I dunno. It was just the first exotic place that popped into my head." The Wheelers were notoriously unlucky and were usually brought in on hilariously pathetic circumstances. Other Star Trek-actors-to-be that had guest spots on Night Court included Robin Curtis from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (which incidentally, John Larroquette also co-starred in as a Klingon) and Nana Visitor of Deep Space 9.

Cast[edit]

Primary cast[edit]

The following cast members appeared in the opening credits:

Supporting players[edit]

Cast changes[edit]

The first few seasons of Night Court had an unusually large number of cast changes for such a long-running series. The only actors to appear consistently throughout the show's run were Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, and Richard Moll.

Theme music[edit]

Every episode of Night Court opens and closes with a jazz-influenced, bass-heavy theme tune composed by Jack Elliott, featuring Ernie Watts on saxophone while featuring video footage of prominent New York City landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York County Courthouse.

Night Court's theme has been used in a Family Guy episode, featuring former US president Bill Clinton playing saxophone, backed up by secret service musicians.

Night Court's theme was sampled for the remix to Cam'Ron's 1998 single "Horse & Carriage". It was produced by Darrell "Digga" Branch and Featured Big Pun, Charli Baltimore, Wyclef Jean and Silkk the Shocker

Episodes[edit]

Nielsen ratings[edit]

The show was a Top 30 hit from Season 2 through Season 7.

Awards and honors[edit]

Night Court received a number of awards and nominations. Both Selma Diamond (in 1985) and John Larroquette (in 1988) earned Golden Globe nominations, but lost to Faye Dunaway and Rutger Hauer respectively. Paula Kelly was nominated for an Emmy after the first season. John Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys for best supporting actor in a comedy series from 1985 to 1988, before he withdrew his name from the ballot in 1989. Selma Diamond was nominated in 1985 and Harry Anderson received three nominations in 1985, 1986 and 1987. The show received three nominations for best comedy series in 1985, 1987, and 1988. The show also received many awards and nominations in the areas of lighting, editing, sound mixing, and technical direction. The show was nominated for thirty-one Emmys, winning seven.

Syndication[edit]

United States[edit]

After its primary run on broadcast syndication, the series aired on cable on A&E Network for many years. It was briefly seen later on TV Land in 2007–08. It began airing on Encore Classic on December 2, 2013.

Canada[edit]

Airs weekdays on Comedy Gold.

Australia[edit]

Network Ten first aired the show back in the 1980s and 1990s. 7TWO began reruns of Night Court in June 2011.

DVD releases[edit]

Season releases Warner Home Video released the first three seasons on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 4–9 are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, they are part of the Warner Archive Collection and are available exclusively through Warner's online store & Amazon.com and only in the US. The ninth and final season was released on June 11, 2013.[1]

DVD NameEp. #Release Date
The Complete First Season[2]13February 8, 2005
The Complete Second Season[3]22February 3, 2009
The Complete Third Season[4]22February 23, 2010
The Complete Fourth Season[5]22March 1, 2011 (Amazon.com)
September 1, 2011 (WBShop.com)
The Complete Fifth Season[6]22October 25, 2011
The Complete Sixth Season[7]22June 26, 2012
The Complete Seventh Season[8]22November 6, 2012
The Complete Eighth Season24February 7, 2013
The Complete Ninth Season22June 11, 2013

Special releases

DVD NameRelease DateEp. #
Television FavoritesFebruary 28, 20066

The Television Favorites compilation DVD included the pilot episode, "All You Need Is Love"; both parts of the fourth season finale, "Her Honor"; the fifth season episodes "Death of a Bailiff" and "Who Was That Mashed Man?"; and the sixth season episode "Fire", which marked the beginning of Harry's relationship with Christine.

Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles Robinson appeared in the 30 Rock episode, "The One with the Cast of Night Court". John Larroquette is also mentioned: Harry says he had just spoken to John, which annoys Markie (who hasn't had recent contact with her absent former co-star) and begins an argument between them that lasts for most of the story.

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]