Case Number 08993: Small Claims Court


Warner Bros. // 1988 // 144 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 5th, 2006

The Charge

Court is in session...and out of its mind!

The Case

It's the wackiest court this side of the nuthouse. New York has seen its share of losers, dweebs, weirdoes, and goons, but nothing can prepare you for the cases that take place during the witching hour -- during the Night Court.

Presiding over the court is Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson, TV's Dave's World), a world-class magician, prankster, and diehard Mel Tormé fan. Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding (multiple Emmy-winner John Larroquette, Madhouse) is good at his job, but better at bedding whatever female crosses his path. Monstrous but kind-hearted Bailiff Bull Shannon (Richard Moll, House) keeps order in the court along with his sarcastic partner, Roz (Marsha Warfield, Caddyshack II). Finally there's the sexy but prudent prosecuting attorney, Christine Sullivan (Markie Post, There's Something About Mary), the cantankerous court clerk Mac (Charles Robinson), and a parade of loons who file through Judge Stone's court just to keep the laughs rolling.

The following episodes are included on this disc:

* All You Need Is Love (Pilot, Season 1)
* Her Honor, Part 1 (Season 4)
* Her Honor, Part 2 (Season 4)
* Death of a Bailiff (Season 5)
* Who Was That Mashed Man? (Season 5)
* Fire (Season 6)

Oh how I loved Night Court as a kid. Looooooooved it. It was, hands down, my favorite show running on the boob tube. Although in retrospect I missed a lot of the jokes (my budding young mind probably didn't -- or maybe couldn't -- comprehend a lot of Dan Fielding's lascivious sexual comments), I loved all of the characters; Night Court was a great show on the sheer fact that it had such a memorable, likeable cast of bailiffs, judges, and zany lawyers. It was like Law & Order on laughing gas with a twist of Zucker Brothers humor thrown in for good measure.

It's a shame that they don't make shows like Night Court anymore. Today's sitcoms are often geared toward kids, and as such feature young, bland, interchangeable actors. When I look at a show like Night Court -- filled with character actors like John Larroquette (who would go on to justly win multiple awards for his work on the show), the towering, imposing, yet lovable Richard Moll (inspired casting to say the least), and wacky, likable Harry Anderson as Judge puts every single Friends clone to shame.

This DVD features what someone over at Warner Brothers considers the best episodes of the show. While I think the pilot is a bit slow and cumbersome -- it features multiple characters who would leave after a few seasons -- episodes like "Death of a Bailiff" really were comic gold. That episode in particular -- featuring Bull's near-death experience and his insistence that God told him to give away all his worldly possessions -- does a nice job balancing religion, comedy, sarcasm, and humanity.

For anyone who remembers Night Court fondly, this short six-episode disc is a good place to start. Warner has been slow bringing out the show season by season (I think only complete season available in the first one). Night Court is a throwback to a time when shows could be caustic and feel good at the same time; a rarity in this day and age. This disc is recommended for those with a piqued interest in the show -- everyone else should wait for the complete season's release.

Each of these six episodes is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the original aspect ratio of the TV show. These transfers all look decent, but nothing like today's crisp, crystal quality pictures. The images on this disc tend to look a bit fuzzy sometimes, but that's due to their age (the mid-to-late 1980s) and the fact they were shot on video. Overall I'm happy to see these episodes out on DVD, though I wish Warner would put in a little more work cleaning up the transfers.

The soundtracks are available in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it. No directional effects, no surround sounds, nada. The whole DVD sound pretty uninspired. Then again, I wasn't expecting miracles considering the source material. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Not surprisingly, there are no extra features included on this disc.

Court is adjourned!

Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 144 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb