Well, that got real.
Night Court Season 1 Episode 3 hits us with the consequences to the courtroom when Abby loses faith in her approach to the courtroom and her team.
It’s also a nod to John Larroquette’s personal story of addiction and recovery. Having Dan’s late wife and Abby both struggle with alcoholism is another way the judge and public defender are growing their relationship.
Unlike the two premiere narratives, which focused primarily on Abby and introducing the cast, this offering revives the original series’ penchant for parallel adventures.
While Abby grapples with her demons and Neil enlists Dan’s help pulling her out of her downward spiral, Gurgs tries to help Olivia when her sense of entitlement is threatened.
We learn a lot about the ladies in the ensemble here.
Beyond the perks of being the cops’ sweetheart prosecutor, Olivia needs to know she’s valued.
Even more than that, she needs to feel valued more than other people are seen to be valued.
Abby: I had my clerk track down someone from your past.
Neil: I got to do some digging. I was her ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.’
Olivia: Were you that? Or were you her ‘Blue’s Clues’?
And when there’s a disruption to her sense of place and esteem, she becomes fixated and tenacious and — dare we say it? — desperate.
Desperate enough to enlist Gurgs’s questionable undercover skills and impulsive enough to risk a public confrontation rather than ask around about the new suit who has been hanging with the uniforms lately.
Gurgs is less subtle about… well, everything.
She’s a giant bubble of enthusiasm with the attention span of a puppy.
As Olivia realizes, you can point Gurgs at a problem, but she’s really got no brakes, so chances are things are gonna get bonkers.
In the landscape of the cast, Gurgs appears as the most stock character, a happy addition with minimal backstory or nuanced motivation. I expect we’ll learn more, but for the moment, I’m content to enjoy her cheerful descant to the more resounding melody of serious subject matter.
Because the two plots are a study in high contrast.
Gurgs and Olivia’s antics are purposely ridiculous and over-the-top to balance out the somber topic of addiction and alcoholism Abby and Dan’s story deals with.
It’s clever to use the despondent Neil as the go-between who not only delivers the humorously inappropriate treats but provides the key phrase for Dan to unlock Abby’s issues.
Neil: You did a lot of baking.
Abby: Well, I had to do gluten-free for Laura, gluten-heavy for Timo, and Sandy’s allergic to nuts but wouldn’t say which ones so I had to do six different kinds for him. It’s like Russion Roulette… but yummy.
There’s an elegant slice of insight in Neil knowing his actions may not solve the problem and only hoping that he didn’t make things worse.
I’m interested in knowing if this is just an extension of his “no expectations” life strategy or if he’s ever screwed things up so badly there’s been no remedy.
His running out to buy treats is also a fascinating evolution from the Neil of Night Court Season 1 Episode 2, who resented staying late for Abby’s pep talk.
One thing Melissa Rauch’s Abby does incredibly well is clearly seeing the people who are trying to help.
No matter how muddled she is about herself, she recognizes that Neil values the vibe she’s created since starting the job and that he’s risking something by trying to keep the Treat Tuesday tradition alive.
Neil: So I went to a bakery. We gotta keep the tradition alive, right?
Abby: Just a few random Tuesdays, Neil, not really a tradition. It’s not like the fireworks on the Fourth of July or eating a groundhog on the third of February.
Another person might’ve tossed that box of cupcake boobs, but not Abby. She keeps them, savors them, and shares them with the team in all their censored glory.
Once again, the standout scene here is between Rauch and Larroquette, and the interaction is respectful, emotional, and genuine.
Once again, they connect over memories of her father and the man he was.
I lost a lot of time with my dad when I was at my worst. Ashamed to be around him. But he always had faith in me. Said he was keeping that faith safe until I had it in myself again.
And once again, there is a hint of Dan’s power to bring Stone family judges back from the brink.
Although he employs a different tactic from the night he convinced Harry to return to the bench (1985’s “The Wheels of Justice – Part 2” Original Night Court Season 3 Episode 10, referenced in the pool ball scene on Night Court Season 1 Episode 1), he is every bit as effective with Abby.
Some may miss the skirt-chasing narcissist Dan Fielding, but I am completely taken by the man he’s become.
I suspect a lot can be credited to his life with and the loss of his late wife. I wonder if we’ll ever see him explore that time in his life more deeply.
Abby: I just think if you show a little compassion, you can put people on a better path.
Dan: Yeah, it all sounds exhausting. It’s all that… caring. [shudders]
Abby: Don’t worry about me, Dan. I’ve always got my emotional support grouch. And your vest came in. I can take you on planes now.
I appreciate that the phrase “defects of character” now holds a specific meaning for me and that the need to “be of service to others” can indicate something more than an altruistic urge.
I recognize there are elements to other people’s lives that I will never have direct experience with but which are shared facets for many.
I like that this is a show not afraid to discuss the vulnerabilities and fallibilities of those who would champion the most vulnerable and fallible, that mistakes are not only dealt with but expected.
Wow, this doesn’t sound like the review for a sitcom, does it? Nevertheless, it is, and it’s still a solidly funny show, maybe even more so for dealing with more weighty subjects.
Mr. Crabbe is charged with a DnD DnD. Drunk and disorderly while playing Dungeons and Dragons.
When you watch Night Court online, note when the laugh track isn’t there and how the show never slows down even then.
Where do you stand on this matter, Fanatics? Is your heart indecently exposed? Are you flashin’ compassion for this gang?
Who are you most curious about? Does Gurgs have a dark side? Does Neil excel at anything? Will Olivia ever admit she’s just as human as her peers?
Hit our comments with your most burning questions and hottest takes!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.