Parents' Guide to

Night Court (2023)

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fitfully appealing throwback has a charming cast and setup.

TV NBC Comedy 2023
Night Court TV show: Poster image

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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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