A Reprieve For Criminal Court Part Two

Finally, Night Court seems to be re-emerging. OmniTV is showing it on two different channels, though in confusing ways. (At the moment Omni1 is showing the second season three times a week, uncut, and Omni2 is showing the third season five times a week, but with syndication cuts. The logic of these programming choices is inscrutable, beyond the obvious conclusion that they’re using Night Court episodes as a cheap way to plug any hole they have in the schedule.) And three years after the DVD release of the not-very-good first season, the second season will be released sometime this year. I’m not confident that it’ll sell enough to get to the third season, which was probably the best overall, but I can hope.

Addendum: I almost forgot to mention that John Larroquette, who preceded Jeremy Piven as the guy who wins the supporting actor Emmy every single year until everyone (including him) is tired of it, will be a guest star on tonight’s episode of Chuck.

I unabashedly love Night Court; of the four comedies that anchored NBC’s first “must-see” lineup, it was by far my favourite at the time, and to tell you the truth, it still is. There were some nights when it had more big laughs than the other three more-admired shows (The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers) put together. Yes, it had fifty thousand cast changes and two dead bailiffs; yes, the serious moments were often embarrassments on par with those moments where Jerry Lewis starts crying; and yes, the show’s final three seasons featured some of the worst episodes ever produced by a show that used to be good. But the jokes just didn’t stop, and unlike most U.S. network sitcoms then and now, it went for big, broad jokes — the more Vaudevillian, the better. No pun was too corny, no gag too cartoony, and it’s still unmatched for its ability to do smutty jokes that were genuinely funny. (Every episode would feature somebody looking at something dirty that was off-camera, and making a reference that just barely made it past BS&P.) The episode OMNI showed today featured an Asian character named Ho, and of course, characters wind up saying things like “Hi, Ho” and “Yo, Ho!” Why? Because while it’s not smart or sophisticated, it’s funny. A show that avoids being corny is often a show that avoids being funny.

Look at this clip, another appearance of the most awesome recurring guest characters ever; not only are the jokes Vaudevillian, but even the delivery is. Long pauses for the audience to laugh, broad, face-slapping reactions, and century-old setup lines.

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