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DVD Review: NIGHT COURT: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON



Studio: Warner Home Video
Year: 1986-1987
Cast: Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Markie Post, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson, Marsha Warfield, Denice Kumagai, Sela Ward, Bumper Robinson, Timothy Stack
Director: Various
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes)
Run Time: 08h:26m:00s
Genre(s): television

ìSounds like a real party animal.î - Harry (Harry Anderson)

NIGHT COURT: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON

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Thanks to Warner Home Video, I'm pumped to revisit Season 4 of my favorite sit com of the 80's. There's still nothing in the way of extra features here, but having each and every episode is good enough.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: C+

If anything, this review should serve as a heads-up to the massive throngs of Night Court fans out there, myself definitely included. A heads-up that Night Court: The Complete Fourth Season is, indeed, available on DVD despite the fact that youíre not going to find it at your local DVD retailer anytime soon. You see, for some reason, Warner Home Video has decided to distribute this 4-disc set exclusively through their ìon-Demandî Warner Archive program, which allows the studio to only produce discs for customers who order them via their website. In this case, such a release strategy also means no supplemental features and no remastering of the existing source material (the discs are standard DVD-Rs, if that tells you anything), a stipulation that is even explained on the setís packaging. Still, fans are going to want these episodes in the best format possible, and, at least right now, this is it.

This underappreciated, classic show is easily among my favorite sit-coms of all time, and the fourth season went a long way towards that. The season kicks off with The Next Voice You HearÖ, which focuses on everyoneís favorite judge, Harry (Harry Anderson). Here, his courtroom is full of ventriloquists, but heís got other things on his mind as heís received a letter from his mother, which was sent 15 years earlier. The focus in Giving Thanks turns to Dan (John Larroquette) and Christine (Markie Post), as the former continues his sexual pursuit of the latter. This time, Dan performs the Heimlich Maneuver on Christine, and feels that sleeping with him would be the perfect way to show him how grateful she is.

A couple of throw-away episodes are up next, with Author, Author giving Bull (Richard Moll) some time to shine, and Halloween II: The Return of Leon featuring some nice work by Bumper Robinson as the titular, recurring character. Next up is the two-part Danís Operation, which is a perfect example of why Night Court was much more than just a cookie cutter sitcom. Both parts of the episode tug at our heartstring as Dan has slipped into a coma following a surgical procedure. Despite his shortcomings, thereís no arguing that many people care for Dan, and itís really great to see those usually-reserved emotions come to the forefront here. Harry is gone in The New Judge, and Dan instantly tries to befriend his replacement, but when he returns in Contempt of Courting, Harry finds a different, beautiful judge sitting on his bench; one who doesnít takes kindly to Christine talking back to her, so she throws her in jail.

After the very funny Earthquake, which finds Dan and Roz (Marsha Warfield) trapped on an elevator together, we get the by-the-numbers episodes, Prince of a Guy, New Yearís Leave, and Murder. Following those, itís time for Mac (Charles Robinson) to take center stage in Baby Talk. Heís having a problem keeping his wife, Quon Le (Denice Kumagai), from spending all of their money, so he goes on a drinking binge, only to eventually learn that not only are they basically bankrupt, but sheís pregnant as well. An even more momentous announcement occurs in The Modest Proposal, when Christine announces that sheís engaged to Bill (Timothy Stack), and everyone instantly objects, but wonít tell her why. One of the episodes I remember the most vividly is up next, when Harry has to finish trying all of his cases before midnight in the hilarious A Day in the Life.

Dan gets bitten by a dog in Rabid, but heís back to his womanizing ways in Christineís Friend, and competing with Harry for the attention of guest star Sela Ward as the title character. Following the rather uneventful episodes Caught Red Handed and Paternity, the focus is back to Mac and Quon Le in Hereís to You, Mrs. Robinson. Quon Le is trying to become an official US Citizen before the baby comes, but during the swearing-in ceremony, both her and Mac begin having pains and are taken to the hospital. That nail-biter of an episode is followed by the two-part season finale, Her Honor. While Dan is sure that he will become a new judge, itís awarded to Christine instead. Meanwhile, Harry learns that he isnít on the list to be reappointed, so he takes off to perform a crazy stunt. While heís gone, Christine gets him his position back, but it might be too late. In wrapping up this fourth, and arguably, best season of Night Court, itís pretty evident that this was one of the best-written shows on TV in the ë80s. In this season, and during most of the others, the writers struck the perfect balance between comedy, and detailed storytelling, and, with such a stellar cast, these shows hold up splendidly over 20 years later.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - November 9, 2010, 3:06 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: oddball, comedy, justice







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