Court shows are all the rage today. There are almost as many court shows as there are re-imaginings of A Christmas Carol (ba-dumb-bump-bump…where’s the drummer when I need him? Oh wait, I’m the drummer!) Yes that was an intended bad joke. But I digress. If there’s one court show that stands out to this day over any other, it’s a little sitcom from the ’80’s called Night Court. Who out there remembers Night Court? My wife remembers it, too. I know that much. Well, the show’s fifth season is now on dvd. And anyone who’s nostalgic for worthwhile television will enjoy this season from what will always be one of the most underrated sitcoms of all time.
Night Court’s fifth season sees Harry return to the bench, after having learned at the end of Season Four that he was not on the judge reappointment list. Not long after returning to the bench, Harry has quite the feats facing him. He has to council a suicidal man, and help Roz deal with her diabetes diagnosis. That episode in itself makes this season interesting in that it hasn’t been until recent years that diabetes has become a more openly discussed topic on television. So to that extent, the episode in question helped put Night Court somewhat ahead of its time. It also tackled the issue of equal opportunity employment in the episodes, “No Hard Feelings”, and “Dan, The Walking Time Bomb”. though to a certain extent, it could be argued that these two episodes were at least somewhat standard rather than standout. That’s because some shows in that time were tackling the issue of how people with disabilities are treated.
While it set itself at least somewhat ahead of its time, Season Five also had its share of standard episodes. Among those episodes, it could be argued that “No Hard Feelings” and “Dan, The Walking Time Bomb” both were standard episodes. Other more common style episodes included: “Let It Snow”, “Death of a Bailif”, “Heart of Stone”, and “Mac’s Millions”. “Let It Snow” sees the gang getting snowed in the courtroom, thanks to a blizzard. It’s also tied in as a holiday episode. “Death of a Bailif” sees Bull “seeing the light” after allegedly hearing the voice of God. This happens after he’s struck by lightning on the courthouse roof. This is just a variation of episodes done by any number of other sitcoms. It’s still a funny episode. In “Heart of Stone”, one of Dan’s old flames comes back, and tries to seduce him. The catch is that she’s already married. Again, other shows at the time had done that. But it was still a funny episode. And Mac inherits two million dollars from his grandfather, leading him to leave. But his departure is short lived. Again, this is just one more variant on an episode theme that’d been done dozens of times before on other sitcoms. Regardless, it’s still a funny episode in its own right because of the episode’s execution.
If the antics in the episodes aren’t reason enough to buy Night Court’s fifth season, how about the guest cameos? Season Five sees jazz great Mel Torme guest. Audiences also see Teri Hatcher well before she made a name for herself in Lois & Clark, and Desperate Housewives. There’s even a cameo by a very young Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2, Hotel Rwanda, The Family Man) in “Jung and The Restless”. Roz is forced to go to anger management class because of her attitude and behavior in the courtroom. Heck, even Johnny Carson shows up in one episode as himself.
Night Court is, and always will be, one of the most underrated sitcoms in television history. The show’s first four seasons have already shown that. For those who haven’t discovered this classic sitcom yet, they’re a great addition to any comedy fan’s library. And so is the show’s fifth season. Whether it’s for the hilarious episodes, or even the cameo guest appearances from stars before they were stars, Night Court has shown yet again that no matter how many sitcoms come and go over the years, it will still be one of the best–albeit underrated–sitcoms of all time.