Will NBC’s ‘Night Court’ revival find same awards success as its predecessor?
After a three-decade recess, “Night Court” is back in session. Just like “Murphy Brown,” “Roseanne” and several other late 20th century sitcoms before it, the NBC show has been revived on its original network in the hope that it will regain old fans and attract new ones. Despite its modern touches and near-total cast overhaul, the rebooted series sticks closely to the same formula that made its Emmy-winning predecessor popular among its ‘80s and ‘90s viewers. Since the new creative team’s collective wealth of broadcast TV experience derives from such hits as “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother,” they should have no trouble pleading their case to a contemporary audience.
Between 1985 and 1988, “Night Court” supporting cast member John Larroquette made history as the first person to win four consecutive acting Emmys for a single series, and he still holds the male record in that respect. Him stepping back into the role of Dan Fielding essentially bridges the gap between the original and revival series, the latter of which stars “Big Bang” alum Melissa Rauch as new character Abby Stone. This time, Larroquette’s fellow featured players include India de Beaufort (known for “Veep” and “One Day at a Time”), Kapil Talwalkar (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”) and Lacretta (“30 Rock”; “Broad City”).
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In an interesting effort to shake things up, Dan will not be serving in his former capacity as the Manhattan municipal court’s nighttime prosecutor, but rather as its public defender. He is talked out of retirement and into the position by Abby, who is fulfilling the judge’s role once held by her deceased father, Harry (Harry Anderson). De Beaufort appears as new prosecutor Olivia Moore, while Talwalkar and Lacretta respectively replace Charles Robinson (Mac Robinson) and Marsha Warfield (Roz Russell) as clerk Neil and bailiff Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous. Whether or not surviving original cast members Warfield or Richard Moll will participate in the revival at all remains to be seen.
The new NBC “Night Court” revival has quite a legacy to live up to, given that the original was one of the first 25 sitcoms to land on the annual Nielsen ratings top 30 list six times. Some of the last decade’s comedic reboots have found more success than others, but most have at least gotten decent ratings and some major awards attention. The three-season revival of “Will & Grace” ended up earning 13 Emmy nominations and two wins, plus several Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award notices. “Roseanne,” “Full House” and “Boy Meets World” continuations “The Conners,” “Fuller House” and “Girl Meets World” all received TV academy recognition as well.
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In addition to Larroquette’s acting wins, “Night Court” received three technical Emmys during its initial nine-season run and amassed another two dozen nominations. It competed for Best Comedy Series three times (against winners “The Cosby Show,” “The Golden Girls” and “The Wonder Years”), while Anderson earned just as many mentions for his lead performance. Paula Kelly and Selma Diamond, who first briefly held the show’s clerk and female bailiff positions, were each recognized once in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Diamond and Larroquette also picked up Golden Globe nominations in 1985 and 1988, respectively. The show was also revered for its writing, as evidenced by the fact that it was one of the first 12 comedy series to earn four Writers Guild of America Award notices. The reboot’s pilot is written by co-executive producer Dan Rubin, whose past credits include “Scrubs,” “Happy Endings” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
The first two episodes of the new “Night Court” will premiere on Tuesday, January 17 at 8/7c on NBC. These and subsequent installments will be available to stream on Peacock following their network broadcasts.
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