If the pilot episode gave us an overview of the series, Night Court Season 1 Episode 2 begins to color in the details.
We see how improving the world drives Abby to engage others in her mission and how that engagement prompts the others to respond.
And like day one in the prison yard, she takes on the biggest challenge first – transforming Dan Fielding into an empathetic, connected public defender.
To be fair, I personally found Dan’s showmanship in defending Carmine to be quite brilliant.
Abby can’t blame him for not trying hard, as filling the gallery with look-alikes can’t have been easy.
Of course, it doesn’t help when your client confesses to his crime in the middle of the courtroom, but even then, Dan is able to focus on a topic of conversation.
On a show as fast-paced as this, it’s easy to blur the side cases. The cases here are all pretty memorable.
Random Bald Guy: Carmine, what are you doing here?
Carmine: I got caught robbing this lady’s store.
Dan: He’s joking. The only thing my client owes is having a razor sharp mind.
From Carmine we move on to Mr. Buckwold, who you might think could have explained his washroom security code issues to the Starbucks staff before exposing himself to urinate.
At least he could have found an alley. It’s Manhattan, after all.
Abby: Are you dyslexic by any chance?
Mr. Buckwold: I am, Your Honor, but as far as I know, that’s a crime only in Texas.
But then again, we couldn’t see Abby defending and judging at the same time.
Also this spectacular sweater.
Dan should keep the bow tie. It really screams folksy sincerity.
Abby: I like the sweater. It really makes a statement. For example, “I told the judge I was going to do something, but then I did next to nothing.”
Dan: That’s not nothing. I’m going to show that your idea of how I should defend these clients is, if not better than, what I’m doing, because they’re basically all guilty anyway.
With all the back and forth between Abby and Dan, it wouldn’t be appropriate to ignore the information about the other main characters.
Olivia expresses her desire to move away from Night Court. Still, she does form connections with the likes of Maggie the stenographer, although it’s mostly for self-interest because she realizes what networking can do for her.
Oh I don’t put any energy into making this place better. I’m trying to get out of here. This is not a job. It’s an escape room.
Meanwhile, Gurgs is identified as the true human among the Nighthawks.
Yes, we could have called that too.
Her disorganization and vaguely superstitious bent may strain a bit to generate laughs, but it’s undeniably effective. Lacretta’s timing and delivery are Gold Star things.
Neil: Work is over. Why does she want us to stay here?
Gurgs: Well, maybe she gave us something. Maybe we can wear it. Oooh, or eat it. Maybe we can put it on and then eat it. chocolate jackets!
And then we have “Big Swing” Neil.
I still have a hard time figuring out if he’s an underperforming genius or a self-confident slacker comfortable with his mediocrity.
Olivia: This opportunity is wasted on you.
Neil: It’s not an opportunity, Olivia, it’s a curse. I come here so I can’t do anything, and if you don’t do anything, you can’t fail.
He seems to thrive on recognition. I mean who doesn’t?
Still, his decision to enhance the courtroom by tweaking the hue of the white paper feels like a deliberate test of Abby’s tolerance for small things.
As if he thought that if he made a change that she didn’t recognize as an improvement, he might mark his efforts as a failure on Abby’s part.
I suspect we’ll learn more about his fears of failure as courtroom expectations rise.
And that means Neil’s name probably appears at least as often as Dan’s on Abby’s list of improvement projects.
Something that was missing from the pilot episode was a moment of utterly absurd mayhem.
Well, consider that mission accomplished.
Rube-Goldberg’s progression through the courtroom, from Maggie’s water bottle swinging, to Gurgs arresting her, bumping into Nikolai’s ladder until he rocks the light fixture until it falls over, and releasing the swarm of pigeons to roam around Feasting on Blaine’s excellent donuts is master class in choreographed slapstick.
I admit I’m surprised that Howie, the lizardman-believing web-slinger, turns out to be the key to Dan’s confidence when it comes to getting to know his clients.
Were you attacked by a salamander as a child? Did your father leave your mother for a gecko? Paint me the sci-fi country song that’s your life.
That hissing and tongue wagging is really repulsive.
However, when Dan Fielding learns something new, especially about himself, he’s not afraid to make changes immediately.
I’m not that kind of lawyer. I deal with evidence and precedent, not feelings, emotions and ‘Mom didn’t hug me enough so now I’m eating people.’
The best scenes so far are between Dan and Abby.
Whether it’s the experience the two actors bring to the screenplay, or the writing where the characters inherit a degree of mutual understanding, or a combination of both, there’s a tangible connection between them.
If we want to get into the analysis (and of course we do), Abby uses Dan as a proxy for her father, while Dan sees a lot of Harry in Abby.
It’s another example of Harry’s presence being evoked in a really touching way.
This is Rosa Rosenberg. She was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, but it is a completely inoperable emotional support weapon. Reminds her of her father. His name was Colt. He died at forty-five.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the writers for their efforts in capturing the witty humor of the original series.
It helps when an OG performer like Larroquette delivers them with deadpan brilliance, but lines like this don’t write themselves.
All in all it was a solid start for this revival series. In most aspects, it’s like they’ve just taken a thirty-year hiatus and returned with a new face but the same heart underneath it all.
Watch Night Court online to see if you can spot the moment Blaine regrets taking the job. lol This courtroom is Not the ideal place for high-flyers.
Can they keep up the momentum they’ve built?
How many flashers before Olivia flees? How many muggers before Neil develops serious neuroses?
I doubt we’ll see Maggie or Paul again, but it’s kind of fun to imagine the two grieving over a seedy pint over the life they could have lived if the Pollyanna judge hadn’t taken over their courtroom.
Will we be spoiled with more talents from Nikolai? From dead birds to portraits of golden girls to axe-wielding maintenance, is there a limit to his abilities?
What were the laughs for you, Fanatics? Beat our comments with your favorite word game or pratfall!
Diana Keng is a permanent writer for TV Fanatic. keep following her Twitter.