For a textbook sitcom, Night Court Season 1 Episode 9 is practically Shakespearean in its savagely dramatic irony and role reversals.
Guest star Stephnie Weir chews up the scenery as the surgically precise podcast journalist, Remecca, whose plan to expose the dirty secrets of our good-hearted — if curmudgeonly narcissistic — public defender nearly succeeds.
But, as in all good Shakespearean plots, the universe is righted whether by act of God or, as in this case, act of Audio Engineer.
There’s some subtle fan service snuck in here with the story of Dan’s run for city council, tweaking the memory strings of long-time viewers of the O.G. series.
Back on Night Court (1984) Season 1 Episode 7, Dan lost his race to a dead man while Harry fended off the advances but befriended the enchanting recurring Carla B., played by the lovely Rita Taggart.
If Harry were still alive, Remecca would’ve spun his encounter with Carla B. in a sordid and underserving manner.
Remecca’s introduction as the “Social Archeologist” seems like a decoy deception. Abby seems to like it for its inspirational and heartwarming nature.
Remecca: Well, as an archeologist, I always have my fossil brush and my pick ax, so I might as well stick around and see what’s under this pile of dirt.
Abby: Hear that, guys? We’re gonna get brushed and picked.
Unfortunately, Remecca’s tactics are more tabloid and sensational than authentic.
To be fair, the stories she pursues — Dan’s vote-buying and Abby’s short-cutting — are legitimately newsworthy, but that’s not her aim. She’s looking for the ratings and the scandal.
And that being said, maybe her low-brow shock jock past shouldn’t be a good reason to get canceled.
Perhaps if she’d owned up to that past, there would’ve been less ammunition for her beleaguered audio engineer to take her down with.
Or maybe not. I don’t claim to understand the podcast industry or cancel culture.
Is Dan Fielding’s rise from humble beginnings to the top – or the bottom – of the judicial system one of generation’s most remarkable feats? It is not for me to say, but it is my pleasure to repeat.
Now, Dan, I understand.
Dan Fielding has been a comedic figure in my television landscape from my formative years. His return on this revival anchors the show and demonstrates how the actor’s comedic timing has aged like fine wine.
Of course, the visual hilarity of seeing Larroquette standing next to Melissa Rauch tickles my funny bone every time. If they ever write a costumed Halloween episode, they need to dress him as the Mandalorian and her as Grogu.
Or maybe Groot and Rocket Raccoon.
Either way, Rauch would get some cute ears.
I wanted to kill Remecca with kindness, not Cold War radiation.
Abby and Dan are united in keeping their unsavory activities from being aired on Remecca’s podcast, but their respective solutions are predictably divergent.
Abby lays out Upstate treats (all of which I researched and found to be as geographically authentic as the term “pass-the-dish”), while Dan basically tries to nuke the situation with the radiation-generous metal detector.
Interestingly enough, a similar method was employed by some dirty cops on The Big Easy, a movie that took place in Larroquette AND Fielding’s home state of Louisiana.
And speaking of his Louisiana roots, doesn’t it seem a little hypocritical of Dan to turn up his nose at “white hots” when he enthusiastically dove into a tray of hogshead cheese, stewed chicken feet, and fried gizzards at the end of Night Court Season 1 Episode 7?
I’ve never seen someone so thirsty to get on a podcast. And I have several friends whose spouses went missing after joining a cult.
The incidental B-plot where Neil and Olivia play pretend couple to get Remecca’s attention is given shamefully short shrift.
Admittedly, this is classic network sitcom format, and twenty-two minutes rarely allows two narratives to play out properly.
But I quite enjoy the meek clerk and the egocentric prosecutor falling into the stereotypical bickering lover roles.
There’s some fun traditional gender-role swapping when Olivia’s commitment issues rear their hissing heads in the presence of Neil’s search for depth and meaning in their faux affair.
It also highlights the fact that — aside from Abby’s yet-to-appear fiancé, Rand — all of the core characters are living lives of singletons, whether by choice or circumstance.
Olivia references previous relationships when she and Neil are debriefing their charade, but we haven’t seen her try to date.
Neil’s been lonesome on multiple episodes, including Night Court Season 1 Episode 8, where he admits to having a crush on Abby.
We saw what Gurgs looks like when she’s enamored of someone on Night Court Season 1 Episode 3, but we haven’t seen her reconnect with that police officer since.
And Dan, of course, lives in the memory of his late wife, Sarah, and his only venture into dating on Night Court Season 1 Episode 4 landed him with a psychopathic pyro with a grudge list.
What does this say about the emotional healthiness of these purveyors of justice?
Oh, there is it. Your sarcasm. The third wheel in this relationship.
Even in the original series, only Mac ever successfully partnered up and had children while working in the courthouse.
It’s an interesting consideration. Honestly, it would take very little — lighting and soundtrack change and dropping the laugh track — to turn Night Court into a sobering look at the cost of the publically-funded legal system.
Oh, and you’d need to turn Abby into her Mirror Universe hard-nosed, by-the-book alt self. Possibly having fallen off the wagon.
Huh. I think I just pitched a through-the-looking-glass episode. Like the St. Elsewhere episode where they visited Cheers. I’d watch that. Would you?
Now that we’ve achieved all our dreams, only Death awaits.
As you watch Night Court online, ruminate on some of the loose ends we’re left with.
Did Olivia ever get her purse back? How did they explain how that defendant just left the courtroom, and no one noticed?
Was Remecca’s relationship podcast also canceled? How long did Olivia and Neil have to keep up the act?
Will Abby’s unorthodox methods continue to be scrutinized? Is this a Skaneateles thing? Or a daughter of Harry Stone thing?
Why name her hometown now? Is this a clue? For what?
What are you eager to learn next about our Nighthawks?
Drop your docket into the comments below and call the court to order!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.
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