For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “Night Court“. This television show, which aired on NBC, started in 1984, and was over in 1992. It was always a fun one to watch and my favorite character was “Bull”. He was an absolute crack-up and one that you know would have your back, if you needed him.
Looking back on the show, and some of the pictures…I guess it was a bit racy. There were times that the judge was drunk or messing around with girls, but back in the day, they didn’t really make that the main focus and have it not be something that was adequate for teens, young adults. etc. Most of the humor was nonsense, but the show in its entirety was a great one!!
For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of the intro to one of the “Night Court” shows:
“Night Court” is one that was only for a chosen few. Some of the comedy was so dry, that you really had to think about why some thought it was so funny. Other times, you couldn’t help but crack up!!
So, did you ever watch this show when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Show:
Night Court is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984, to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift of a Manhattan municipal court, presided over by a young, unorthodox judge, Harold T. “Harry” Stone (played by Harry Anderson). The series was created by comedy writer Reinhold Weege, who had previously worked on Barney Miller in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Night Court, according to the first season DVD, was created without comedian/magician Harry Anderson in mind; but Anderson auditioned with the claim that he was Harry Stone. Anderson had developed a following with his performances on Saturday Night Live and made several successful appearances as con man “Harry the Hat” on another NBC sitcom, Cheers. (For the first several years of its run, Night Court aired on NBC Thursday nights after Cheers, which had moved to the time slot before Night Court to accommodate the new series, which started as a mid-season replacement in January 1984.) In later seasons, while Anderson remained the key figure, John Larroquette became a breakout personality winning a number of awards and many fans for his performance as the lecherous Dan Fielding.
The comedy style on Night Court changed as the series progressed. During its initial seasons, the show was often compared to Barney Miller. In addition to being created by a writer of that show, Night Court (like Barney Miller) was set in New York City, featured quirky, often dry, humor and dealt with a staff who tried to cope with a parade of eccentric, often neurotic criminals and complainants. Furthering this comparison, these characters were routinely played by character actors who had made frequent guest appearances on Barney Miller, including Stanley Brock, Philip Sterling, Peggy Pope, and Alex Henteloff. But, while the characters appearing in the courtroom (and the nature of their transgressions) were often whimsical, bizarre or humorously inept, the show initially took place in the “real world”. In an early review of the show, Time magazine called Night Court, with its emphasis on non-glamorous, non-violent petty crime, the most realistic law show on the air.
Gradually, however, Night Court abandoned its initial “real world” setting, and changed to what could best be described as broad, almost slapstick comedy. Logic and realism were frequently sidelined for more surreal humor, such as having the cartoon character, Wile E. Coyote, as a defendant and convicting him for harassment of The Road Runner with an admonition to find a meal by some other means. In the opening episode of Season 4, a ventriloquist dummy talks on his own without the ventriloquist to Dan, only to freak him out and make him shout and back away slowly down the hall.
The show featured several defendants who appeared before the court again and again—notably the Wheelers, June and Bob (Brent Spiner), who initially pretended to be stereotypical hicks from West Virginia; but they were later revealed as Yugoslavians and at one point even ran a concession stand in the courthouse. When asked by Harry why they claimed West Virginia at first, Bob replies, “I dunno. It was just the first exotic place that popped into my head.” The Wheeler’s were notoriously unlucky and were usually brought in on hilariously pathetic circumstances. Other Star Trek-actors-to-be that had guest spots on Night Court included Robin Curtis from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (which incidentally, John Larroquette also co-starred in as a Klingon), Nana Visitor of Deep Space 9 and Paddi Edwards as Hank Shannon of Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Dauphin.
Night Court received a number of awards and nominations. Both Selma Diamond (in 1985) and John Larroquette (in 1988) earned Golden Globe nominations, but lost to Faye Dunaway and Rutger Hauer respectively. Paula Kelly was nominated for an Emmy after the first season. John Larroquette won four consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series from 1985 to 1988, before he withdrew his name from the ballot in 1989. Selma Diamond was nominated in 1985 and Harry Anderson received three nominations in 1985, 1986 and 1987. The show received three nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1985, 1987, and 1988. The show also received many awards and nominations in the areas of lighting, editing, sound mixing, and technical direction. The show was nominated for thirty-one Emmys, winning seven.
About The Stars:
Harry Anderson (Judge Harry T. Stone) was born October 14, 1952. He is an American actor, screenwriter, director and magician. He is best known for the role of Judge Harry Stone on the 1984–92 television series Night Court. In addition to eight appearances on Saturday Night Live between 1981 and 1985, Anderson had a recurring guest role as con man “Harry the Hat” on Cheers, toured extensively as a magician, and did several magic/comedy shows for broadcast, including Harry Anderson’s Sideshow (1987). A longtime Mel Tormé fan, Anderson gave the eulogy at the singer’s funeral. Judge Stone in Night Court was also a Tormé fan; the show’s creator Reinhold Weege says the fact that Anderson was also a Tormé fan was completely coincidental. Anderson kept a nominally low profile after Dave’s World was canceled. Tired of L.A.’s glaring spotlight, Anderson moved to New Orleans in 2002. In the 1990’s, he and his second wife Elizabeth opened a small shop in the French Quarter named “Sideshow” selling various “magic, curiosities, and apocrypha.” In August 2006, Anderson and his wife announced their decision to leave New Orleans and move to Asheville, North Carolina, citing concerns including declining tourism to the city, the re-election of Mayor Ray Nagin, and the depressed mood prevailing in New Orleans.
Charles Richard Moll (Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon) was born January 13, 1943. He is an American actor and voice artist, best known for playing Bull Shannon, the bailiff on the NBC sitcom Night Court from 1984 to 1992. Moll has also done extensive work as a voice actor, typically using his deep voice to portray villainous characters in animation and video games.Moll was born in Pasadena, California, U.S., the son of Violet Anita, a nurse, and Harry Findley Moll, a lawyer. He was remarkably tall early in his life, reaching 6 ft by age 12; he kept growing until about 6 ft 8 in. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and was a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. He can be heard in many animated film and cartoon productions, often as a villain with a deep, growling voice. Moll has voiced Two-Face in Batman: The Animated Series and the Scorpion in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Moll also reprised his role as Two-Face for the episode “Chill of the Night!” of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. His first role in an animated film was as a beat poet in Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop. He starred as Norman in the animated series Mighty Max. He also voiced Vorn the Unspeakable, a Cthulhu-like character in Freakazoid. Moll also voiced the Devil Hulk in the 2005 video game Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and King Minos in the 2010 game Dante’s Inferno.
John Larroquette (Dan Fielding) was born November 25, 1947. He is an American actor. Larroquette was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Berthalla Oramous, a department store clerk mostly selling children’s clothes, and John Edgar Bernard Larroquette, Jr., who was in the U.S. navy. Larroquette himself is not a junior or a III as his name does not contain “Edgar”. He grew up in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans not far from the French Quarter. He played clarinet and saxophone through childhood and into high school, where he and some friends organized a band they called The N.U.D.E.L.E.S. He discovered acting in his senior year of high school. He moved to Hollywood in 1973 after working in radio as DJ during the early days of ‘underground’ radio, when each disc jockey was free to play what they wished. Larroquette met his wife Elizabeth Ann Cookson in 1974 while working in the play Enter Laughing. They were married July 4, 1975, as that was the only day they had off from rehearsals. They have three children, Lisa, Jonathan, and Ben. Their son Jonathan co-hosts a comedy podcast called Uhh Yeah Dude. Larroquette battled alcoholism from the mid 1970’s to the early 1980’s. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 10, 2007, he joked, “I was known to have a cocktail or 60.” He stopped drinking February 6, 1982. His roles include Dan Fielding on the 1984–1992 sitcom Night Court (winning a then-unprecedented four consecutive Emmy Awards for his role), Mike McBride in the Hallmark Channel series McBride, John Hemingway on The John Larroquette Show, Lionel Tribbey on The West Wing, and Carl Sack in Boston Legal.
Charles Robinson (Mac Robinson) was born November 9, 1945. He is a critically acclaimed American theater and television actor. He is best known for his role as Mac Robinson in the NBC sitcom Night Court. He has also been performing since the 1960’s, is a member of the Actors Studio, and is considered by playwright Lyle Kessler to be “one of the great American Actors.” In his early career, he was a singer; as a teenager with the group Archie Bell and the Drells, and later with a group called Southern Clouds of Joy. Robinson’s credits include appearances in Black Gestapo, The White Shadow, Flamingo Road, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, “The Game, “Touched by an Angel, and Antwone Fisher. Robinson was cast in the role on Newdell in the NBC comedy Buffalo Bill. Not the hit it was expected to be, Buffalo Bill was canceled after one season and replaced by Night Court. Robinson was cast as court clerk Mac Robinson, after the first season in 1984, when Karen Austin, who played the original court clerk, left the cast. Robinson played the role on Night Court from 1984 until its end in 1992. He also directed three episodes of the series. From 1992 to 1995, Robinson co-starred on the sitcom Love & War, replacing John Hancock who died a few episodes into the series run. Robinson played recurrent character Bud Harper in Home Improvement, and continues to appear on shows including House, The Bernie Mac Show, My Wife and Kids, Soul Food, Charmed, How I Met Your Mother and My Name Is Earl. In 2010, Robinson worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and co-starred in the film on Jackson (2008). Robinson appeared as “Troy” in August Wilson’s Fences at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA from January 22, 2010 until February 21, 2010.
Marjorie “Markie” Post (Christine Sullivan) was born November 4, 1950, in Palo Alto, California. Post is the daughter of scientist Richard F. Post and Marylee Post, a poet. The middle child, she and her two siblings were raised in Stanford, California and Walnut Creek, California and attended Las Lomas High School where she was a cheerleader. She attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and briefly Pomona College in Claremont, California before returning to earn her Bachelor of Arts from Lewis & Clark. She is an American actress, known for her roles as bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in The Fall Guy on ABC from 1982 to 1985, as public defender Christine Sullivan on the NBC sitcom Night Court from 1985 to 1992, and as Georgie Anne Lahti Hartman on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire from 1992 to 1995. Post is married to actor and writer Michael A. Ross, and has two daughters. She was previously married to Stephen Knox, whom she met at Lewis and Clark College. During President Bill Clinton’s years in the White House, a tabloid published a photograph of Post hand in hand with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason jumping up and down on what appears to be President Abraham Lincoln’s bed while on an overnight stay at the White House.
Did You Know?
After John Larroquette won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series four years in a row, he asked that his name be taken out of consideration. He was also offered a spin-off series based around the character of Dan Fielding, but he turned it down.
Neither the music nor the exterior shots in the opening credits ever changed during the entire series run.
There’s a scene where John Larroquette’s character, Dan Fielding, is trapped in a motel room with a psychotic woman who acts out movie roles. While watching TV an announcer says, “We’ll return to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’…” to which Larroquette says, “Seen that already.” Larroquette was the voice of the Narrator in the 1974 “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and the 2003 remake.
After the taping of the final episode on a Friday, the cast were sent telegrams to have their dressing rooms vacated by the following Monday or their belongings would be thrown away.
Richard Moll had shaved for a film that he was working on called Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983). When he auditioned for the part of Bull Shannon, the producers liked the look so much, they requested he keep the look.
Before Harry Anderson was ever cast, the character of the judge was written as a guy named Harry, who loved magic, and worshipped Mel Tormé.
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