In 1984, Harry Stone (Harry Anderson) took the Manhattan municipal court's night shift by storm when he became the youngest judge appointed. More than three decades after Night Court first aired, NBC is releasing a continuation of the original sitcom. Also titled Night Court, the upcoming series — which premieres Jan. 17 with back-to-back episodes — will follow Harry's daughter Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch) as she takes on the role of the night shift judge.
Rauch, who also serves as Executive Producer, talked about how the idea for the 2023 show came about at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "We were thinking about what would be a great revival, and Night Court just has the foundation, the construct for an organic story generator," Rauch said. She developed the idea with Dan Rubin and Winston Rauch, and spoke about how the elements of the original show — including different cases coming through the courtroom doors and the workplace comedy backbone — appealed to her.
The new show also features John Larroquette reprising his role as Dan Fielding. While Dan was a prosecutor in the original series, he becomes a public defender on Abby's courtroom staff. "It was brought to me by Melissa and Dan," Larroquette recalled hearing the pitch about the upcoming comedy for the first time. "My initial reaction was, 'That's funny, talk to you later, bye.'"
The actor described the opportunity as a double-edged sword. "The idea of trying to revive something that you did 35 years ago when you were young and agile and acrobatic and funny, to try and at 75-years-old to go back to that" could be an error in judgment on his part if he said yes, Larroquette explained. The actor spoke about how Melissa Rauch joining the cast affected his decision — and ultimately prompted him to come onboard. "While the original conversations were that Melissa was not going to be part of it, it was easier for me to say, I don't really think it's a great idea," Larroquette said. "And then when she told me that she had decided to be in it, I knew I was sort of stuck." (Rubin and Melissa Rauch teased that other familiar faces from the original series might stop by as well.)
Larroquette talked about how he approached playing an older version of his character. "It was a task to figure out what's happened to him, where he is in life," he said.
At the TCA press tour, Melissa Rauch discussed how she views Night Court in relation to the original. "I think we were all trying to figure out what the term for this would be," Rauch said. "I think whenever someone hears the term 'reboot,' I know I personally — my whole body tenses up like, 'That's my show! What are you gonna do to my show!'" The star explained it's part of the reason a new term was coined. "It's not necessarily a reboot because there's this fresh new element to it, and it's like a new reboot," Rauch said. "Then we started joking, a 'newboot.' And as ridiculous as that word sounded at the time we realized it actually make sense."
"It's a bit of a newboot, a bit of a revival," Rauch continued. She also emphasized that the series is for all to enjoy. "There are all these Easter Eggs that original fans will love, but at the same time, you don't need any prior knowledge of the original to watch the show," she said.
Night Court premieres Jan. 17, 2023 at 8/7c on NBC with back-to-back new episodes, and will be available to stream on Peacock.