Disorder in the court. After three decades, the “Night Court” started sitting again.
The eight-year love affair with the comedy, which tells the story of a strange night shift in a New York courtroom, ended in 1992. But the sitcom returns to NBC Tuesday (8 EST/PST) with a double-episode premiere.
The familiar courtroom is the same, but the footage has changed. Many of the original “Night Court” cast members have passed away, including Markie Post (Public Defender Christine Sullivan) in 2021 and Harry Anderson, who died in 2018 and will forever be remembered by fans as magic trick-loving judge Harry T. Stone.
John Larroquette, 75, who won four Emmys for his portrayal of narcissistic prosecutor Dan Fielding, returns with a white beard. A burned-out Fielding is recruited as a public defender by the new presiding judge, the late Stone’s mature and equally eccentric daughter Abby (The Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch).
“I’m 75 now, not the 35-year-old who started playing that character. I can’t do the physical comedy that I used to do,” says Larroquette. “Hopefully, with wit and intelligence, we’ve found other ways for him to be funny, not just the clown he was in the ’80s. But it’s a new world.”
Larroquette spoke to USA TODAY about answering the call of “Night Court.”
RIP Harry Anderson. Strange Night Court judge Harry Stone has died at the age of 65
Question. What was it like stepping into a boardroom for the first time in 30 years?
John Larroquette. Emotional. Because you when you think about the people who were there. They did a great job multiplying and rebuilding the collection. The cafe, the courtroom, the corridors are the same. It was like going back to your old school, but with more emotion because the reasons why the show was such a success and such a pleasure were gone. Marky and Harry and Charlie Robinson (Court Clerk Mac Robinson) died when we were doing the (new) pilot.
As defense attorney, Dan now sits in the chair that Christine Sullivan has sat in for years. So I often pay silent tribute to Marky.
Anyone from the original show?
Certainly not the cast. But I’m lucky to have two crew members from the original who share the story. There were times when I could appear on the set and say: “Remember when Harry pulled the hamster out of his nose right here?”
“Night Court” mourns.John Larroquette was “heartbroken” by Harry Anderson. the stars pay tribute
When alone in Harry’s old office, Fielding delivers an emotional tribute in the premiere. Was it also a farewell to Harry Anderson?
It’s tricky here because the character and the real person have the same name. Harry hasn’t been with us for a long time. You want to remember people with reverence, but not arrogance, to be honest. That speech is about character.
It is now Abby’s office, with notable changes. Is there a favorite Harry act?
It’s the same sofa, I can say that. I put a board under the pads in the 80’s because it was too soft. The board was still there. There are some fun substitutions, taking out the photo of Jean Harlow and replacing it with a German Shepherd because that’s her dog. But 30 years of law has passed through that building. So there have been a lot of changes.
Why is Melissa Rauch a perfect fit to take her on-screen dad Harry’s seat?
I’m a comedy actor, and Melissa is from her pedigree. It’s good music when we play together. We know how to take a joke, but also make it real. Abby is a bit of a prankster like her dad, without the magic. You don’t want to repeat too much. But strip away the shenanigans, and both judges care about jobs and pursuing justice for people.
The theme song “Night Court” is instantly familiar, but shorter. Why?
The theme song is the same tune, updated. In fact, my son, Benjamin Larroquette, who is the composer of the series, re-recorded it. Just him in his recording studio. In the past, with shows like ours, Cheers or Family Ties, you had a much longer opening act. It’s like nine seconds, showing some shots of New York, the cast, and going into the show. You just don’t have much time to play with it. It’s just a different time, 30 years later.
Have you discussed the appearances of the other original surviving cast members, Marsha Warfield and Richard Moll?
As for the main cast, only Marcia and Richard are still with us. Marsha and I talked. It’s no secret we might see one or two of the oldies come here as guest stars. We don’t know yet. But there was a string of comedians just starting their careers through those courtroom doors: Stephen Root, Brent Spiner and Michael J. The Fox. Who knows what the future holds