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“Night Court” was one of those comedies in the late 80s and early 90s that sometimes made it worth it to stay up a little extra late just to see what new antics NBC could come up with. Last night, I may have been better served calling it an early night.

On a positive note, the reason given to revive this show is to have Abby Stone played by Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory’s Bernadette) take her father’s place as the night court judge.  She realizes quickly that she has such big shoes to fill and, in my opinion, not just the character but late Harry Anderson’s as well. To help her succeed, she enlists John Larroquette’s Dan Fielding when the public defender abruptly quits. The twist to this is that Dan was always a prosecuting attorney who was ruthless to a fault to get criminals no matter how small the slight, jailed. Now, he is being tasked to show that he has a heart and try to be more of a people person even to those who are obviously guilty.

To that end, you now have Olivia played by India de Beaufort who is the Assistant District Attorney tasked with doing Dan’s old job, Neil played by Kapil Talwalkar as Abby’s clerk, and Donna played by Lacretta as the bailiff.

NBC, you have a nice diverse cast and when you take a look, the original cast was diverse as well even for the 80s and 90s. The biggest difference is the original cast were not only funny, but they gelled well. I felt no real connections to any of the characters beyond Dan and Abby. Lacretta’s Donna tried but I don’t feel like the writers have any idea what they want from her. I feel in some ways they are trying to channel a bit of Marion Ramsey’s “Hooks” (yes, a Police Academy reference) with Richard Moll’s Bull and Marsha Warfield’s Roz and it’s just not working.

Melissa and John’s characters play well with each other and beyond Lacretta’s character, we are waiting for the rest of the cast to catch up.  It may take some time and in a world of so many options all at once, does this show have the time it takes to get this cast to really come together?

The first two episodes did well in trying to jog up some of the nostalgia which made the original great. Some of the jokes landed, others didn’t. What made things worse was the obnoxious laugh track that permeated through the show.

The show is not bad but not really good either. It may take far longer than a few episodes to hit its stride but right now it’s playing things really safe. It’s a show where we see Hollywood wants to take old ideas and spruce them up but not really add anything new or great to the formula. “Night Court” feels like a show that if there is nothing else on TV on a Tuesday night, find something else to watch at 8:00 pm ET. Or if you want something to give you a few chuckles in as you drift off while watching after you DVRed it.

“Night Court” premiered Tuesday, January 17 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. New episodes will be released weekly.

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