I watched the rebooted “Night Court.” I chuckled a few times. I had one actual laugh. Otherwise, I fear it’s destined for the same fate as the “Murphy Brown” reboot and “The New WKRP in Cincinnati.”
I realize this is nitpicking, but I’m not sure I buy the premise — Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch) has been appointed to the seat formerly held by her father, Judge Harry Stone (Harry Anderson in the original “Night Court”). When she finds herself in need of a public defender, she brings back Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), who was an assistant district attorney on the original show.
If you’re going to bring back Fielding, by now he would logically be the judge — and without Harry Anderson, Markie Post, Charles Robinson, Marsha Warfield and Richard Moll, I’m a little “meh” on the idea anyway.
(Trivia question: What two veterans of old-time radio played the woman bailiff on “Night Court” before Marsha Warfield? Hint: Both of them had ties to “Duffy’s Tavern” and both died, sadly, of lung cancer after years of chain-smoking. Answer at the end.)
On a positive note, the new “Night Court” set looks great. If it’s not exactly like the original, I didn’t notice.
It reminds me of the joke about “Sanford & Son.” After Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson — who played the two main characters! — left in the sixth season, NBC tried to keep the show going with just the supporting cast. Someone joked “they renewed the set.”
The original “Night Court” holds up better than most of the NBC sitcoms from that era. “Family Ties” has aged like bread, and “The Cosby Show” was almost unwatchable even before Cosby was credibly accused of rape by multiple victims. And yet that show was an absolute ratings juggernaut. ABC and CBS might as well have programmed test-patterns on Thursday nights at 8.
Conan O’Brien remarked recently that a lot of what boomers and Gen-X’ers now consider “classic television” looms much larger in our minds because we grew up at a time when there were only three television networks in the U.S., and we were watching over an antenna.
A lot of our viewing decisions were driven by which channel was coming in best that night, O’Brien said: “What are you watching?” “A Catholic Mass.” “Really?” “Yeah, I think they’re doing communion right now. But the picture is excellent.”
Speaking of excellent pictures, my wife was out of town over the weekend, so I watched a couple of movies I thought she wouldn’t have much interest in — “The Bank Dick” with W.C. Fields, and “The Brink’s Job” with Peter Falk, Peter Boyle and Warren Oates. It was sort-of a bank-robbery double-feature.
I’d never seen “The Bank Dick” all the way through, and it holds up mostly well, outside of two incredibly racist jokes at the expense of Black characters that must have been offensive even in 1940. Both of the jokes could be eliminated without affecting the movie at all, and probably should be.
Uncle Jay says if you want to understand why W.C. Fields was considered a genius of early motion pictures, “The Bank Dick” is a good place to start — if you can somehow excuse the jaw-dropping racism. I’m not sure you can (or should). Caveat emptor.
“The Brink’s Job” is an absolute forgotten classic. There’s not a dull moment. It’s packed with excellent dialogue and performances, and there is great attention paid to the 1940s detail. It’s even shot in mostly the original locations in Boston.
Uncle Jay says check that one out.
Incidentally, as with almost everything, there’s a Pittsburgh connection. Two of the crooks in the real-life Brink’s robbery of 1950 wound up in jail in Western Pennsylvania — one of them at Western Penitentiary on the North Side — after they were arrested for pulling several thefts around Bradford County.
Speaking of the North Hills, former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a picture on Snapchat that apparently shows him receiving fellatio. He captioned it, simply, “Gibsonia.”
Really? Is that what the kids are calling it these days, “Gibsonia”?
What’s “over the clothes” called, “West View”? I guess “Zelienople” is reserved for super-kinky stuff. Not that I’m judging.
Continuing our local geography lessons, an investment company that calls itself “Alumni Ventures” has been advertising lately, trying to recruit Carnegie Mellon University alumni to put money into their fund.
These are two of the ads they’ve been running on LinkedIn. See if you can spot the error they make in both:
I may not know anything about investments, but at least I can tell Pitt from Carnegie Mellon. And West View from Zelienople.
I still struggle to tell shit from Shinola, but I’m getting better.
Trivia Answer: Selma Diamond was the original bailiff on “Night Court.” She began her comedy career as a writer for The New Yorker and Groucho Marx, and later wrote scripts for “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” and “Duffy’s Tavern” before becoming a popular talk-show guest and actor. Carl Reiner said Diamond was an inspiration for Rose Marie’s character Sally Rogers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
When Diamond died in 1985, she was replaced by Florence Halop, who got her big break on “Duffy’s Tavern” playing the owner’s shrill daughter. She later worked on shows such as “Playhouse 90,” “I Spy” and “Barney Miller,” and was a semi-regular on “St. Elsewhere” before being hired to replace Diamond on “Night Court.” Like Diamond, Halop was a heavy smoker and died about a year later.