A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Messages are explicit and underlined in storylines and dialogue: Take care of your team and they'll take care of you, compassion is critical in caring professions, going the extra mile for others is usually worth it.
Positive Role Models
Abby is a stalwart, kind-hearted character who's confident about her work even though she's a physically small woman in a job that was traditionally staffed by men. Dan gets many misanthropic lines but it's clear underneath he's a big, caring softie. Co-workers support each other, and treat each other warmly.
Several members of the main cast are people of color, and not stereotypes. Watch out for jokes that turn on regressive stereotypes, though, such as a case in which a woman busted for pretending to be a psychic puts on a bad Eastern European accent, which Judge Stone then imitates.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence is played for laughs and only occasional: twins get into a fistfight in court, a janitor removes a dead bird from a ceiling tile (we briefly see the fake-looking bird). Defendants appear in court and their crimes, which sometimes include violence, are described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic complications play a part in this show's storyline. Expect flirting, dating, romance, kissing, references to off-screen sex. Sex workers appear in the court; expect jokes about their profession.
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Cursing includes "hell," "ass," "jackass," "bastards."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Night Court is a reboot of the 1984-1992 show of the same name, and contains about the same amount of mature material as the original: jokes about criminal cases, network-friendly cursing ("hell," "ass," "bastards"), storylines about the court's staff that will contain romantic and other complications. Co-workers are kindly and friendly toward each other and support each other, even while they occasionally mock one another. Characters are largely admirable people, especially caring-yet-gruff attorney Dan (John Larroquette) and confident, cheerful Judge Abby (Melissa Rauch). Jokes are occasionally regressive, like a scene in which a professional psychic puts on a fake Eastern European accent, and the overall vibe is silly but sweet, and fine for whole-family viewing.
Is It Any Good?
An interesting experiment in old-school sitcom storytelling, this throwback rests largely on the charm of leads Larroquette and Rauch, a venerable setup, fitfully decent jokes, and nostalgia. On the first point, it will surprise exactly zero fans of the original series that Larroquette has still got it. Bewhiskered and white-haired, he still knows how to land an ironic joke (it's no accident that four out of the seven Emmys won by the original have Larroquette's name on them), and thankfully, the showrunners have updated his character: No longer a horny skirt-chaser, he's settled down in his seventh decade into a seen-it-all character who's been hardened by the slings and arrows of his life and is now by turns emotionally closed off and aghast at the nonsense around him. Rauch -- tiny, determined, bright -- makes an excellent comic foil to hulking, dismissive, sardonic Larroquette; the most chuckle-inducing moments of the show belong to these two.
And there are chuckles, though the show reaches too often for wackiness, usually mixing Grugs into the action and making her spit out punchlines. In the show's first episode, twins get into a fistfight in court, a fortune-teller attempts to evade prosecution by producing genuine psychic predictions, letters are mixed up on an office directory board and a messenger comes in looking for "Gary Buttmouth." It's all very old-school sitcom, especially when combined with the visual storytelling, which relies on conventions from the Seinfeld-like transitioning from one scene to another with a long shot of a building before cutting to an obvious set depicting an improbably enormous Manhattan apartment. Still, the court setup is as fun as ever, with cases moving quickly through accompanied by gags, while our court characters remain and interact. It only works some of the time. But for some, that will be enough.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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