A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this 1980s sitcom features a lecherous character whose primary motive is to have sex with attractive women. He hits on women constantly and frequently engages in sexual banter. Some episodes include people holding guns in a threatening manner, but it's always presented in slapstick fashion. Women dressed like prostitutes often play background roles. Some of the material addressed in the courtroom includes violence or societal ills, though such issues are always treated lightly.
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What's the story?
The legal staff of a New York City courtroom are the main characters in the popular 1980s sitcom NIGHT COURT. The show follows the antics of young Judge Harold Stone (Harry Anderson), lecherous Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), seemingly dumb Bailiff "Bull" Shannon (Richard Moll), and naïve public defender Christie Sullivan (Markie Post). Judge, lawyers, and bailiffs eat together in the cafeteria, meet in the judge's office, and work in the courtroom while trading silly stories and one-liners. The comedy often centers on ridiculous scenarios -- such as when a defendant who believes that he's a native of Saturn takes the staff hostage with demands for materials to make an intergalactic transmitter.
Is it any good?
Amidst the gags come some serious moments, like when Harry and the Saturn man discuss the quest for utopia, or when Harry listens resignedly to the radio news announcing murders and sewage leaks. But the real star of the show, at least in the series' later seasons, is Larroquette. His slimy, narcissistic Dan is continually hitting on attractive women and reminiscing about sexual exploits. Dan is clearly meant to be a buffoon, and his lechery is part of his absurdity. He often finds himself at the mercy of the women he hits on, which lightens the otherwise sexist dynamic.
Teens might enjoy Night Court for its silliness and appealing characters, though it's peppered with pop culture references (Punky Brewster, anyone?) that will make no sense to them. The constant sexual innuendo may be more than parents feel is appropriate, but they should know that it's approached with extreme levity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about John Larroquette's character. What makes Dan appealing despite his icky personality? How would his behavior be handled in the real world? Do teens know any people like him? How do they interact with this type of person? Why are personality traits like Dan's exaggerated on television? Does it make them funnier?
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