Of the many feelings I have about Night Court Season 1 Episode 16, the overriding one is respect.
Despite the admittedly predictable Rand-to-the-rescue and Olivia-wears-the-white-hat solutions to their predicament, they manage to surprise us by subverting the expectation that Dan would stay.
It leaves us wondering mightily what Season 2 might hold in store, and that, my friends, is the sign of a spectacular season finale.
The relationship between Dan and Abby has always been central to this revival.
Whether he’s a stand-in for Harry or she’s the light to draw him out of his widower’s hermitage, they’ve poked and prodded each other’s egos and blind spots with truth bombs until they’ve become dependent on that regular dose of grump/cheer.
But, as we see here, they haven’t grown close enough to take each other for granted or to presume that the other feels as they do.
I’m also mystified why Dan let Abby sit in jail overnight. Is there a cut-off time to bail someone out? (Honest question. I don’t actually know. For all I know, that’s totally why.)
Dan: You’re looking pretty good for somebody who spent a night in jail. See you already got a tattoo.
Abby: It’s temporary but somehow already super infected.
That being said, they are very much an oil and water duo, as demonstrated by the challenge posed by working together on a cohesive (and successful) defense.
When push comes to shove, Dan’s instinct is to push and shove. Abby, not so much.
Abby: I’m just saying that we can win this without throwing someone under the bus.
Dan: Nobody’s talking about throwing anybody. We just nudge her off the curb into the street hopefully as a drowsy bus driver comes by.
But Abby’s also grown considerably beyond the woman who agreed to marry Rand in Skaneateles.
Rand comes to the realization here that I pointed out on Night Court Season 1 Episode 15 that if he wants a future with Abby, he has to physically be in her future, which is in New York City.
I’m proud that he figured it out on his own and also that he could never live in New York City. Ever.
This place has it all. Everyone’s always yelling and the yelling, it’s always so angry. Even when people say, ‘NICE ASS,’ I’m not sure they mean it. Drips from above, smells from below. I can’t wait to live here.
As befits their relationship, their break-up is the most amicable in the history of break-ups.
And I buy that. They’re both incredibly optimistic about the world. Why should breaking up be a bad thing when it’s the right thing to do?
Dan: C’mon, let’s talk strategy.
Rand: OR. The strategy is no strategy. We’re wild cards. Think about it. If we don’t know what we’re doing, neither will they.
Dan: Does he have to be here?
I suspect we’ll see Rand (and maybe Mama Gina) pop in again throughout Season 2. Gotta have Abby’s roots show every once in a while.
Kudos are due to the continuity maintained from the first half of the two-parter.
Gurgs is actually going to the UK to join Scotland Yard. Neil’s still (STILL!) involved with Gabby (although that may be short-lived if he can’t engage her kids.)
Gurgs: So I’m going to be a little late to my program in London and we all know Neil’s never going to coach baseball.
Neil: Eight-year-olds didn’t like me when I was eight and they don’t like me now.
And miracle of miracles, Olivia is still listening to that human heart she’s learned she has.
Abby showed me that my whole life doesn’t have to be about my career. She’s ruined me like that town ruined the Grinch.
It’s standard hero fare for their good deeds to reap rewards.
I love that the wif-wolf from Night Court Season 1 Episode 8 returns to testify on Abby’s behalf.
Remecca’s audio engineer (who never did get his own name on Night Court Season 1 Episode 9) is another nice touch.
I just wanted to stop by and make sure everybody’s being charged correctly. I think that our judges need to be held to a higher standard, especially ones who are, in legal parlance, STUPID-FACED JERKS!
But the A-star recurring guest star has to be Kurt Fuller as DA Dewitt.
Fuller will always hold a special place in my heart as Psych’s lovably awkward Coroner Woody, but this ability to convey unapologetic sleaziness — part Gotham villain, part Muppet — is impressive.
Part of me hoped Dewitt being publicly denounced for prosecutorial misconduct would give Olivia some sort of promotion, but if that would mean she’d be promoted out of the night court, she can lump it.
My boss, Jeff Dewitt, told me that I’m going to be fired unless I join his prosecution team against you. And the only thing worse than working at night court is getting fired from night court.
Also, what does it mean that Gurgs is still bailiff-ing when Abby returns to the bench? Did she decide not to join Scotland Yard?
So much for continuity.
Welcome home, Your Honor. I got new folders for your first night back. No blood stains.
That brings us back to Dan and his Pearl River courtroom.
Pearl River, — for those like me who can’t resist an Internet rabbit hole — like Skaneateles, is a real place.
However, it is forty miles from New Orleans, so how a French Quarter drunk and disorderly case ended up being heard in Pearl River is a question for jurisdictional scholars more knowledgeable than I.
Neil: Abby’s such a sweet kid. She had a pretty big crush on me for a while.
Dan: Permission to treat this witness as delusional.
Many fan prayers were answered (and my estimation of networks’ abilities to make NDAs stick rose) by Marsha Warfield’s eleventh-hour (minute?) appearance before Judge Fielding.
Roz: Fielding. They made you a judge? [to the bailiff] Take me back to jail.
Dan: She loves me.
Will it only be a one-off? Will she recur in Season 2? Who is she marrying?!?
Now that the door’s opened to original cast members making appearances, the roar of fans demanding Richard Moll’s return can be expected to swell like the waters of ye ol’ Louisiana bayou.
There will probably be a petition advocating Brent Spiner’s return as Bob Wheeler circulating soon as well (if it’s not already out there.)
Why can’t we play nice? It’s the only sport I’m good at!
Keeping in mind that the original series ran nine seasons, every fan has their own cherished memories of its laughs, its characters, and its quirks.
Has the revival achieved that level of goodwill? Maybe not, but it has built upon the fans’ nostalgic love, respectfully utilized the classic elements (and set!), and managed to create a voice of its own.
That’s not nothing. Especially in a world that’s largely forgotten the sound of a laugh track and that comedy can have heart AND hardy-har-har moments.
As you watch Night Court online, consider the expectations you may or may not have come to the series with back in January.
Have they been met? Exceeded?
Does the inaugural season give you hope?
Hit our comments with all the feels and feedback! Until Season 2, Fanatics, court is adjourned!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.