I’ve always had a weird, soft spot for Night Court. In a world of ALFs and Herman’s Heads, it always kinda stood out as a show that mixed typical situation comedy humor with a bit of the surreal, and an occasional measure of resonant emotional commentary. So, before it was ever even announced on DVD four of years back, I told myself that I would pick it up on sight, just because I missed having it around.
Now, my memories of the show date back to the early 1990s when I wasn’t yet even a teenager, so I wasn’t sure if my affection for the whole thing would withstand over a decade of me being slowly jaded – but I was again sold when my current favorite TV show, 30 Rock, paid homage to Night Court in a recent episode by bringing some of the cast back together for a reunion of sorts (sadly lacking Richard Moll and John Laroquette). The whole episode really addressed how Night Court began to kinda self destruct in its final seasons, but also lent a new appreciation to what it became. We all remember what happened to Roseanne.
With the second season due out on DVD on February 3rd, I was excited to move 22 episodes deeper into the 193 episode, nine season collection of the show. It definitely withstands the test of time, much to my surprise. Even the super-dated references to VHS collections, and the promise of an eventual finale which is hailed as universally disappointing. For a finale to be disappointing, it means that the series has engendered a certain affection and care for the characters it involves, and I still look forward to it.
Night Court : The Complete Second Season is a simple 3-disc set in a cardboard slipcase, containing 525 minutes of bizarre, charming comedy. The package includes an episode guide with airdates and brief synopses, but the DVD itself includes no extras, which are perhaps, I hope, being saved for later DVDs when the show picked up steam and established its main characters. I can only hope that it’s not another four years before Warner Bros. decides to release season three, because for all of the hours upon hours of the show that I watched, I always missed the episodes that guest starred Star Trek’s Brent Spiner, and I’ve been dying to see those since I was 12. It’s been something of a quiet obsession, and I think that I developed my love of the show while watching every moment for that damned android.
And as a junkie for the interconnectedness of things, the ‘six degrees’ of Night Court has always been pretty strong. Richard Moll, the enormous Bull Shannon, has provided the voice for Batman : The Animated Series’ Two-Face, as well as some Marvel villains, and appeared in the Hercules live-action show. John Laroquette voiced Mirror Master on ‘The Batman’, and Harry Anderson played a small part in Lois & Clark. And once you involve John Astin, who played Harry’s dad in multiple episodes, well hell, he played The Riddler in two episodes of the original Adam West Batman show (another thing I’m kinda desperate to get on DVD).
This set is a good look at the show before it comes completely, unabashedly slapstick and forgets about reality – eventually incorporating aliens and cartoons in the courtroom – and it remains comfortable to watch (and even laugh out loud at) over 20 years later. Pick it up for a scant 20 bucks, if for no other reason than it’s an enjoyable watch.