October 21st: Night Court

Is this any way to run a courtroom? You bet it isn't!

I was going to start this installment by disarming you with a confession to be made, which is the fact that I don't remember anything about...

Night Court However, the word "confession" implies that I have been hiding some sort of secret shame about having no memories of this situation nor its inherent comedy, but this is patent-leatherly untrue. I don't care that I know nothing of Night Court , and likewise, I don't care who knows it.

At this point, Night Court 's sitcom footprint is that one episode of 30 Rock where they reunite the cast, and even that episode sees me confusing it with the episode of Arrested Development featuring Judge Reinhold, playing himself, playing an actual judge on a pilot for a show called Mock Trial with J. Reinhold . Everyone say it with me now: "My name is Judge!" Heh heh... goddamn, 30 Rock and Arrested Development were funny shows, weren't they?

Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh, that's right - fucking Night Court .

Night Court , as far as I can tell, does not star Judge Reinhold, but rather Harry Anderson, who would later gain notoriety (or not, let's get real) playing a fictionalized version of syndicated newspaper columnist, Dave Barry, on Dave's World , which was another sit-com of several seasons that no one has any concrete memories of. Clearly, Harry Anderson is the forget-me-now agent responsible for the vast cultural amnesia that blankets the bridging of the 1980s and 90s.

Now that we've determined what Night Court is not, let us focus on what it actually is: I have no idea what Night Court is.

I feel like I've heard of a "night court" in some reality-based context, but I'm uncertain if this has always been a thing (what I imagine to be small-claims cases so useless that they are filed through in off-peak trial hours), or if this is a case of life imitating art, and it wasn't a thing to be referenced until Night Court hit the airwaves. Again, who really cares.

I will now answer my own snide, rhetorical question with the words "apparently someone," because this thing lasted 9 seasons. 9 seasons!? Seriously?

Yes, that is almost 200 episodes, and that is a fact about Night Court that we know to be true. We can also say that they loved doing a good (hopefully) Halloween episode, because our Wiki-list says they did five (???) of them (#9seasonsand5halloweeneps). Again, this is absolutely something we do know about Night Court .

How it plays into our trick-or-treating theme is unclear, but sometimes it's worth the extra walking required to get into town and hit up local businesses and/or branches of government. Kids love coupons for 5% off on a second ice cream cone following the full-price purchase of a first, just as they love nocturnal parking ticket rulings, or whatever it is that goes on with this premise. Will this be worth our time? The night jury is still out on that, so with no further ado, I give you Night Court . I guess.

Space: New York, NY

Time: October 31st, 1985

Episode: "Halloween, Too" Season 3, Episode 5

Sooo... turns out there's a reason Night Court is not often spoken of, and that is because this show is awful, 5 Halloween episodes?? Oh, we are so not sitting through those, one is more than enough, thank you.

With reluctance, I offer you a synopsis. First, Bull is an idiot.

I mean, I know that's the point, but this 'Bull-carves-a-pumpkin' thing is so stupid. Would you believe the studio audience loved it, though?

If there's one thing that Night Court can bring to the table, it's a gallery of 80s "stars."

John Larroquette! Mary-Margaret Humes! And Mama Fratelli herself, Anne Ramsey, oh my!

I know, I can already hear you asking why Marshall Teller/Dawson Creek's mom is there at all, but apparently this was a very good time for MMH. She plays a woman with zero common sense, as evidenced by her falling in love with Harry, the wacky Judge of the aforementioned night court. Yes, in the long tradition of naming characters after the actors who portray them (looking at you, Danza), Harry=Harry.

Dear gods, I hate Harry Anderson. I had no opinion of him before, and now I have too many opinions, most of them revolving around his lousy jokes and bad ties. Indeed, this entire show is a museum piece, one offering a glimpse into a world before political correctness. The result is sheer horror, with entendres crashing into each other, one after the other, stacking themselves into great heaps of offensive debris, and we realize that none of these people would be able to keep their jobs in the modern world. There'd just be too many lawsuits, and they already spend all of their time in night court anyway.

Everyone is terrible with the exception of Markie Post, who basically serves as a target for everyone to shit on. This poor woman thought she was liberated, but has come to find that the world is still run by greasy Larroquettes wearing greasy 3-piece suits, and greasy Andersons dressed as greasy judges, groping everything in the room with their eyes, if not their hands, or tearing them down to satisfy their own insecurities. And I hate it.

But I'll tell you what I do like... and it's this green leather couch!

I will take five of those, thank you kindly.

Anyway, Dawson's mom is a witch, Harry thinks it's weird and they end up splitting. This leads us to an oddly morose costume party featuring Harry dressed as Mel Torme, forever besmirching the Velvet Smog's good name.

And by the end of this trainwreck, we leave feeling exactly as Charles Robinson (playing 'Mac Robinson,' offering a twist on the matching-names thing) looks here: disappointed and ashamed.

I watched some of the other episodes, and they never get better. I'm now left wondering if perhaps Night Court belongs to another age? Like, had this come out in 19 65 , maybe they would've gotten away with the misogyny and the bad puns and the broad prop-comedy, since that was more in keeping with society's vibe at that point? Perhaps it would've been revered as a scathing screwball classic, like The Dick Van Dyke Show or something.

But then I remember it didn't come out in the 60s, and that they were simply brushing aside 20 years of very, very gradual progress, all just to put up 9 seasons ( 9 seasons!! ) of their shitty program. So, fuck you, Night Court , I find you guilty!