Can ‘Newboot’ of ‘Night Court’ Pick Up Where Original Left Off?

Night Court on NBC
Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette in NBC’s updated ‘Night Court.’ (Image credit: NBC)

Night Court debuts on NBC Tuesday, January 17. There are two episodes of the legal comedy that night. John Larroquette plays Dan Fielding and Melissa Rauch portrays Judge Abby Stone. 

Night Court was on NBC from 1984 to 1992, with Harry Anderson playing Judge Harry T. Stone and Larroquette portraying Fielding. 

In the reboot, Rauch plays Stone’s daughter. She’s an executive producer as well. 

Rauch referred to the show as a “newboot” at the Television Critics Association Press Tour January 15. “We were like, well, it's not necessarily a reboot, because there is this fresh new element to it,” she said. “And when they were like, it's a new reboot and then we started joking that it's a ‘newboot.’ As ridiculous as that word sounded at the time, we realized that actually makes sense. So, it's a bit of a newboot, a bit of a revival, because we really pay our respects to the original. It's obviously very much a part of the DNA in this show. Fans of the original, there's so much for them to love. We're revisiting these wonderful stories in these walls that we all know and love.”

Rauch added, “And, of course, we have the amazing John Larroquette reprising his role of Dan Fielding.”

Larroquette said his initial reaction, when asked about rebooting the show, was a firm no. “The idea of trying to revive something that you did 35 years ago, when you were young and agile and acrobatic and maybe funny — to try and, at 75 years old, let's not forget that, to go back — that seemed a real error in judgment,” he said.

Larroquette said his mind changed when Rauch decided to play the judge.

Rauch played Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory. She said the time is right for Night Court to return. “Night Court just has the foundation for an organic story generator and these amazing cases coming in out of the doors, and this wonderful workplace comedy and a lot of comfort and the laughter that feels like we all really need right now,” Rauch said.

Rounding out the cast are India de Beaufort, Kapil Talwalkar and Lacretta.

Fielding, a prosecutor on the original Night Court, is now a public defender. His character has changed in other ways. “That became interesting to me, how he might appear in 2022 as opposed to 1992, when we last saw him,” said Larroquette. “So, it became an exciting problem to solve as to how he can be funny at 75 even though he was still funny at 35 but in a different way. So we worked on that, and you'll be the judge of whether or not it actually worked.”

Dan Rubin executive produces with Melissa Rauch and Winston Rauch. Winston Rauch disputed Larroquette’s assessment that he’s not all that agile at 75. “He is still an incredible physical comedian,” Rauch said. “He did a scene basically backing out of the courtroom in a swivel chair and doing it just with this brilliant comedic timing, quickly receding from the courtroom and delivering his lines and giving us four different amazing versions of the same scene.”

Guest stars include Melissa Villaseñor, Faith Ford, Pete Holmes, Wendie Malick, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.

Reinhold Weege created the original series. Harry Anderson died in 2018.

A Hollywood Reporter review said: “Audiences can look forward to experiencing the inconsistencies of Night Court anew with NBC’s reboot, which hearkens back to the original with some frequency and, through its first six episodes, swings back and forth between somewhat promising and thoroughly embalmed. It’s a still-fruitful setting too often wasted by writers who aren’t quite sure how they want to adapt the format to a very different era of television. At least the new creative team has Larroquette back in tow, ever a master of the multi-cam.” ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.