Man, I Love “Night Court”

Time for another edition of Down the Rabbit Hole where I start with a nugget of pop culture and, like Alice in Wonderland, see where we end up.

The sitcom “Night Court” ran on NBC from 1984 to 1992 and, as I write this, is in reruns on LAFF, which is on Dish Network and probably one of the digital subchannels in your town like 5.2 or 8.3.

Harry Anderson starred as Judge Harry Stone, a young and unconventional judge working the evening shift in Manhattan Municipal Court. Before “Night Court,” Anderson was mostly known as a magician, appearing on “Saturday Night Live” and “Cheers.”

“Night Court” was created by Reinhold Weege, who also worked on “Barney Miller,” and the shows share a similar vibe – a workplace comedy with defined regular characters and eccentric guest-of-the-week roles. Fran Drescher, Michael J. Fox, Pam Grier, Pamela Adlon, and Robert England all appeared on “Night Court.” Brent Spiner, who would play Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” appeared in multiple episodes as Bob Wheeler, the father of an unlucky family who are either from West Virginia or Yugoslavia.

The regular cast changed a lot through the years too.  Here’s a photo from Season 2. Ellen Foley, who played Public Defender Billie Young, is also a singer and the one who’s not Meatloaf on “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” I remember Foley saying her hair was so short at the start because she had to cut out the pink. You can hear Foley in the video below, but the woman lip-synching is Karla Devito, who sang the part on tour.

Now that you’ve seen Carla DeVito’s face, you’ve also heard her singing and probably didn’t know it. Do you remember the scene in 1985’s “The Breakfast Club” where they all dance around the library? That’s DeVito, singing “We Are Not Alone.”

Let me wrap it up with one more “Night Court” tidbit.  The theme song was written by Jack Elliot, who also co-wrote (with Allyn Ferguson) the themes for “Barney Miller” and “Charlie’s Angels.” In 1998, the tune was sampled for a remix of Cam’Ron’s “Horse & Carriage.”