Sunday, January 24, 2010

Night Court

In my continuing salute to vanishing New York grit, here's a clip from the great 1980s TV show Night Court.

Set in a Manhattan court, it followed the hilarious hi-jinx that ensued each night when hookers, public nuisances, and petty thieves were "prosecuted" and "defended" and then "justice" was served. The show was excuse to show off an array of wacky New York characters being prosecuted for "crimes" that were really more extension of the human condition (no rapes, murders, or extortion cases were ever decided).

As this clip shows, it had a great cast, hilarious writing, and razor sharp performances. And while it could be raunchy, it also had a wry intelligence and, best of all, it had something so few shows have these days: a kind heart.

It also launched careers: Michael J. Fox (during Family Ties but before Back to the Future), Michael Richards (before Seinfeld), and Brent Spiner (before Star Trek: TNG).

Night Court ran on NBC from 1984-1992. Along with The Cosby Show and Cheers, it helped establish the dominance of the NBC Thursday night line-up ("MUST SEE TV!"), long before Seinfeld or Friends or shows like that. It won numerous Emmys including four for John Larroquette as the sleazy but funny Dan Fielding (after his four consecutive wins, Larroquette famously declines to submit his name for nomination again, saying someone else deserved a shot at winning).

They certainly don't make shows like this anymore. Specifically, NBC doesn't make shows like this anymore. Night Court premiered back when NBC still knew how to create hit shows and nurture talent, not squander it like today. And NBC, like that old New York grit, is fading fast. So lets at least remember the good times.

1 comment:

  1. This was one of my favorite shows back in the day but now that I think about it, what an odd choice for a kid :)


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