Must See TV Thursdays made its appearance in the Fall of 1982 on NBC. The catchy slogan became the new face of appointment television; shows that were so worth watching that you would schedule your life around them. While we can now schedule our TV viewing around our lives thanks to DVRs, Hulu, and On-Demand, there was a time when you actually had to be home to watch TV when the show actually aired.
Two years after its premiere on Thursdays, Must See TV hit its stride in 1984 with four of the funniest shows on TV: The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court. NBC definitely became the go-to place for great sitcoms, and with such a great line-up of shows its no wonder that Must See TV became a ratings powerhouse.
Night Court, which was part of Must See TV from 1984 to 1988 was a unique and oftentimes bizarre series that took the sitcom to levels of insanity not seen since the mid-1960s. With its combination of sex jokes, sight gags, puns, slapstick, and heart, Night Court delivered wacky comedy and heartfelt moments to audiences for its nine year run.
The series takes place in Criminal Court, Part II in New York, where Judge Harold T. Stone (Harry Anderson) presides over a courtroom with a neverending parade of zany defendants. Along for the ride are District Attorney Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), Defense Attourney Christine Sullivan (Markie Post), Bailiffs Bull Shannon and Roz Russell (Richard Moll, Marsha Warfield), and Court Clerk Mac Robinson (Charles Robinson). It’s a stellar cast with excellent comedic instincts and timing that will make you laugh your ass off.
Season Four of the series is no different, bringing more of the absurdist humor to the forefront and showcasing the amazing comedic talents of its cast. This is also the season that solidified the cast for remainder of the series with the addition of Marsha Warfield as Bailiff Roz Russell, who replaced Florence Halop after she passed away.
Much like Sheldon (the amazing Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory, John Larroquette became the stand-out in this ensemble series for his role as slimy prosecutor Dan Fielding. If you ever wanted to see a truly Emmy-worthy performance, Larroquette’s is highly recommended.
I used to watch Night Court in syndication with my dad when I was a kid after he got home from work. I liked the show because it was filled with gags and slapstick, but being a kid I didn’t get a lot of the double entendres and sex jokes. Now, oh so many years later, the show is even more entertaining and funny to me because I now “get” all those jokes that flew over my head as a kid.
If you think the jokes they get away with on shows like Family Guy and Two and a Half Men are over-the-line, watch a few eps of Night Court and you’ll wonder how they got away with those types of jokes back in the 80s. It’s amazing what they were able to say on this series back then!
I love Night Court! It’s a series with plenty to offer its audience and it never fails to amaze, amuse, and excite me with each viewing. At its core, each episode contains a sense of humanity, a serious undercurrent that drives the episode forward. But the barrage of gags, jokes, and shenanigans are more than enough to keep you engaged and wanting more.
Season Four is available ONLY through the Warner Bros. Digital Archive, a collection of films and TV series that you can order directly from the WB and they will make you a personal copy of your request.
A tour de force of comedy hijinks, I highly recommend Night Court: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD! It’s one of the greats and definitely Must See TV.
Night Court: The Complete Fourth Season is available NOW on DVD!
What’s your favorite Night Court moment/character/episode? Leave a comment and let us know!