Revivals seldom come less ambitious than “Night Court,” which brings back multi-Emmy winner John Larroquette from the original series, in a show that does little to reflect the passage of time. There’s plenty of nostalgia in the concept and execution, which doesn’t make much of a case for sticking around beyond the premiere.
Drafting talent from a more recent sitcom hit, “The Big Bang Theory’s” Melissa Rauch stars as Abby Stone, the daughter of the character the late Harry Anderson played way back when, who takes over his old job as a night-court judge. (Another original cast member, Markie Post, died in 2021.)
When the public defender abruptly quits, Abby recruits Larroquette’s Dan Fielding out of semi-retirement to fill the void.
Their interactions not surprisingly provide the heart of the show, and there’s a sweetness to them, both in Dan’s reminiscence about Harry and his melancholy over his own late wife, whose death helps explain why he essentially checked out of life.
Beyond that, though, the attitude of this revival – overseen by producer Dan Rubin (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) – feels as if the ’90s, ‘00s and ‘10s never happened, other than the new players occupying the various courtroom roles. They include the ambitious assistant D.A. (India de Beaufort), persnickety clerk (Kapil Talwalkar) and eccentric bailiff (Lacretta).
“Night Court” premiered in 1984, batting cleanup in a heavyweight “Must-See TV” comedy lineup that consisted of “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties” and “Cheers,” and proceeded to run until 1992.
Charitably, the 30-years later encore represents a form of TV comfort food, reviving a light but popular show – if one generally not as beloved as its companions – with only minor cosmetic changes, down to the sets and music.
Generating initial curiosity, though, isn’t the same as sustaining interest, and this is one of those efforts to cash in on a familiar title to be filed under “Nobody Really Asked For This.” Perhaps that’s why after watching a handful of episodes as “Night Court” basically goes through the motions, the summary judgment is show dismissed.
“Night Court” premieres January 17 at 8pm ET on NBC. The show’s producers include Warner Bros. Television, like CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.