Night Court: Is it Time for the Show to Part Ways with Dan Fielding?
I will admit, I had a lot of doubts when I heard they were going to reboot one of my favorite series from my childhood. And I will also admit, the new Night Court has exceeded my expectations and has become one of my favorite must-watches. However, with the show's first season in the books and a second season likely delayed due to a writer's strike, I am going to pose the question about the lone holdover from the original series.
Is it time to say goodbye to attorney Dan Fielding (John Larroquette)?
The relationship between Fielding and Judge Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch), the daughter of his long-time and deceased friend Harry Stone (the late Harry Anderson) was one of the pleasant surprises from the reboot. The newer version of Fielding is less of a chauvinist and more of a father figure both to Abby and the rest of the main characters while providing a connection to the original series.
However, his presence has always (at least in my opinion) felt a little bit forced. I think the best way to put it is he seemed a bit like a set of training wheels, a veteran presence to keep a relatively unknown cast (other than Rauch) time to establish themselves. Eventually, you need to take the training wheels off to see if it can still move forward without them.
For everything Larroquette has brought to the show, I do think his presence has taken something away as well. While Fielding and Abby seem to be the center of most storylines, the other characters are trying to establish depth with what's left of the airtime. And frankly, while Rauch is supposed to be the star, there are times when she seems like a supporting actress as well. Even if you factor in the time needed to introduce a new character to the series (Fielding's replacement as defense attorney) Larroquette's departure would only give the rest of a cast more opportunity to grow on their own.
The show has already taken the first step toward this by Fielding finally becoming a judge in his home state of Louisiana. Right now, that storyline seems destined to be short-lived but could provide the opening this series needs, with Larroquette no longer a major part of each episode but Fielding still readily available via a phone call when Abby or another character needs his wisdom.
After all, the great thing about training wheels is you can always re-attach them if needed.