New Night Court Needs to Stop Living in the Past
When I saw NBC was rebooting the show Night Court, I had some mixed feelings. The original series was (and still is) one of my favorites and a show I missed until I found it on Amazon Prime. However, while I liked Melissa Rauch from The Big Bang Theory and thought she was the right choice to play Harry Stone's (Harry Anderson) daughter, I wasn't convinced it would be able to live in such big footprints.
While I won't cast a final judgement after just two episodes, the reboot hasn't done much to convince me it is able to stand on its own two feet. Even more concerning is it doesn't seem to be trying to do that.
Whenever you reboot a series, comparisons to the original are going to be inevitable. And, while it might seem like a good idea, reminding people of the original only makes the problem worse.
This starts with the decision to bring back John Larroquette as Dan Fielding. Not only does his return to the courtroom seem forced (and possibly illegal), but his involvement with the series does also have mixed results. He's a talented actor but the Dan Fielding I remember was much more physical with his comedy and the older version just doesn't seem the same without it. Frankly, there were times in those first two episodes when it seemed like Larroquette was just there to collect a paycheck simply because of his inability to physically sell what he was saying.
The series also doesn't do itself any favors by the constant references to Harry Stone and how great of a judge he was. Rauch already has her work cut out for her replacing both the comedy and the genuine compassion Anderson brought to the character. There's no reason to make things harder with the constant comparisons.
Not to mention, the constant reminiscing doesn't give the series an opportunity to properly introduce the supporting cast. I'm two episodes in and can't even remember their names.
In a way, I feel like this series would have been better off not acknowledging the original and just been a true reboot rather than a sequel. A modernized version of the same concept (with Rauch as a female version of Harry Stone instead of his daughter) could have worked, especially with viewers who were fans of The Big Bang Theory who aren't old enough to remember a show that's been off the air for 30 years.
Again, it's still too early to pass judgement on this reboot, especially since the original took a while and several casting changes before it became a big hit. However, if this show wants to become another classic, it will need to do it on its own merits and stop relying on the past to propel it forward.