About This Show
Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 1984 until May 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.
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 "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.) In later seasons, while Anderson remained the key figure, John Larroquette became the breakout personality, 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 criminals and complainants were routinely played by character actors who had made frequent guest appearances on Barney Miller: Stanley Brock, Philip Sterling, Alex Hentlehoff, and many others. But while the characters appearing in the courtroom (and the nature of their transgressions) were often whimsical, bizarre or humorously inept, in the early years of Night Court, the show still took place in the 'real world'. In fact, 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 morphed into what could best be described as broad, almost slapstick comedy. Logic and realism were frequently abandoned for the sake of a joke.
The show featured several defendants who appeared before the court again and again—notably the Wheelers, Bob and June (Bob was played by Brent Spiner, later known for his role as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation), who initially pretended to be stereotypical hicks from West Virginia but were later revealed as Yugoslavians, and at one point even ran a concession stand in the courthouse.
Night Court clips on Hulu.com
Video: Opening titles from Night Court as posted on You Tube