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Cast of ‘Night Court’ reboot discusses show’s revival in on-set panel

Nyambi Nyambi, India de Beaufort, Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette (left to right) speak at a panel on the set of “Night Court.” The reboot of the 1984 sitcom is currently in its second season. (Courtesy of EvansVestalWard/WBTVG)

By Victoria Munck

Feb. 26, 2024 6:56 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 27 at 7:48 p.m.

Modernizing its 1980s roots, the “Night Court” reboot is now in session.

Expanding on the comedy’s original story from 1984, the NBC revival follows judge Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch) as she fills her late father’s position in a Manhattan arraignment court with help from his former colleague Dan Fielding (John Larroquette). The series’ stars and producers brought journalists to its courtroom set as part of Warner Bros. Television’s 2024 TCA Studio Day for a panel about the program’s development. When asked about the decision to reprise his role as Dan, Larroquette said he was initially skeptical but ultimately became intrigued by the opportunity to revisit a character with decades worth of growth.

“It’s an interesting challenge to look at somebody you played 35 years ago,” Larroquette said. “Where is he now? Where’s the funny in him considering he can’t be who he was in the ‘80s? … It began to appeal to me.”

[Related: Cast, producers reflect on “Young Sheldon” coming to an end after seven seasons]

Season 2 of “Night Court,” which is currently proceeding with weekly episodes, premiered December after a delay due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. The first question of the panel asked Rauch, who also serves as an executive producer, what the team’s swift return to work was like. Several scripts had been banked before the strikes, she said, making it easy for the cast and crew to jump into production. However, showrunner and executive producer Dan Rubin said some pieces had lost timeliness and needed to be reworked, such as a Halloween episode that was altered to feature Comic-Con when the holiday passed.

Afterward, Larroquette elaborated on his experience returning to set after the original show’s conclusion in 1992. He initially felt grief on his first day back, he said, as he realized most of the cast members he entered with were now dead. Despite this, the passion of the reboot’s performers and crew helped him find joy in the change, he added.

“There was some sadness involved, but the aliveness of these people around me made it bittersweet,” Larroquette said. “It became sweeter and sweeter as I realized that they had the heart of the show in their hands.”

Considering the development of his character, Larroquette said Dan is still a notably egotistical “man-child,” but his continued work with Abby in the latest season allows him to open his heart in a way he is not ready to accept. He believes the show’s writers have succeeded in giving Dan humor without forcing him to bear his emotional baggage from decades ago, he added. In addition to the talents of the writing staff, Larroquette elicits laughter with subtle expressions in his performances, Rauch said, helping the character of Dan maintain his comedic charm.

While Dan has spent years in the courtroom, the “Night Court” revival has introduced fresh faces as well, including employees Olivia (India de Beaufort) and Gurgs (Lacretta). When asked how the new additions will continue to be shaped in the second season, Lacretta said viewers should anticipate the cheerful bailiff Gurgs revealing more personal depth when presented with a love interest. Beaufort added that she has appreciated watching the uptight Olivia break from her shell of solitude to embrace the show’s ensemble.

“We start to see her use the word ‘friend’ and not actually hate it as much as she would have when we first met her,” Beaufort said. “I think that path continues into Season 2. We start to learn a little bit more about all of our characters’ vulnerability and their relationships with each other.”

[Related: Emmys 2024: Cinematographer Gary Baum earns 13th Emmy nomination for ‘How I Met Your Father’]

Beyond the characters, even the sitcom’s sets reflect a balance between old and new. Paying homage to the original series, its primary locations were recreated from the design plans used in 1984, Rauch said. Alterations to the walls and updated paint colors were employed to indicate the small changes made to government buildings over time, she added. Because the show is filmed in front of a live studio audience, Larroquette said most of the sets are structured to be in view of the crowd as well.

Relatedly, the panelists closed the event by discussing the lifespan of multi-camera comedies in a tumultuous time for television. While Beaufort admitted she worries for the future of studio audience shows, Larroquette said he believes the intimate art form will always be in demand and is actually experiencing a renaissance. Executive producer Winston Rauch said the laughter he hears on set each week is a testament that the world needs comedies, and he is hopeful that similar shows can endure.

“I hope it doesn’t die out,” Rauch said. “I heard my son in a sound mix the other day. I could hear my 3-year-old, who was in the audience for the first time, laughing at one of the jokes. … I think as long as there’s great writing and great performers, there will always be room for multi-cams and networks like NBC that remain dedicated to comedies.”

 

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Victoria Munck | Theater | film | television editor
Munck is the 2023-2024 theater | film | television editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2022-2023. She is a second-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
Munck is the 2023-2024 theater | film | television editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2022-2023. She is a second-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
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