Night Court Season 1 Episode 7 Review: Train Court
It bears remembering that Night Court judges are all a little wacky.
Night Court Season 1 Episode 7 substitutes Abby’s sunny, good-natured wisdom of Solomon with the questionable cognitive abilities of Judge Flobert. In Abby’s absence, things get a little out of hand as the inmates take control of the madhouse… er, courthouse.
And Judge Stone proves here that she can mete out justice anywhere, especially when her prosecutor’s having an anxiety attack and needs something she can control.
It says something about Olivia’s will to thrive that she can grab onto a lifeline, even when it’s thrown by someone she finds incredibly annoying.
Not only does she fall in with Abby’s decision to hold court on a stuck subway car, but she is also genuinely invested, as always, in besting the opposing counsel in the case, although that means besting herself here.
Abby’s country mouse perspective seems a little overplayed at times.
While I’m sure New York living and “upstate” are vastly different, I feel like the days of sheltered rural sensibilities have gone the way of the ham radio.
In large part, I suspect they play it up as foundational grounds for Abby’s optimistic outlook.
Personally, I think being Harry Stone’s daughter would’ve been enough optimism DNA to Pollyanna-up any demographic. In a sample size of one — although we have no idea whether Abby has any siblings — it’s guaranteed to lean towards rainbows and unicorns.
Gurgs, always the sympathetic one, sees her need to help Abby love NYC, and the opportunity to make up for her own lost celebrity encounter aligns when Lipinski and Weir turn up in the courtroom.
Leave it to our best bailiff to catch one tidbit about Abby’s personal life and turn it into a hyperbolic mission.
It’s hard being new in town. Your whole life you hear about how magical New York is. And when you get here, it’s just scaffolding and weird puddles.
And as is her wont, Gurgs takes it all the way into the end zone, playing every strategy in her book until she’s forced to pull out the emotional bazooka, the missed chance to meet “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
Meeting your heroes isn’t always great. When I was ten, I met my favorite astronaut. And she screamed and bit my hand. But in the Commander’s defense, she was a squirrel monkey.
After everything he does to thwart Gurgs’s goal to delay the end of the court session, it’s wild that Dan gives it all up for her sob story.
He knows better than anyone that no good deed goes unpunished, and yet, he recognizes Gurgs’s genuine desire to set things right in her head and sacrifices his reservation for success.
And what a reservation! His descriptions of the experience sound like food porn worthy of Fantasy Island.
Gurgs: So your fancy dinner is more important than your friends?
Dan: This is not just a dinner. This is a meal that Scientific American called, ‘a heinous waste of stem cells.’
And, of course, Lipinski, Weir, and Flobert end up cashing in on his cancellation. It’s a rule of sitcoms that we see the absurd punchline of any needless oblation. (Although how a table for one is going to accommodate three is probably not worth thinking too hard on.)
By splitting Abby and Dan up between the two disparate narratives, this offering boosted the ensemble’s overall impressiveness.
Olivia’s momentary catatonia on the subway demonstrates how deeply she needs her life to be predictable and routine.
Her initial advice to Abby about riding the subway — and New York life, in general — is Polonius-like in its dogma of distance and detachment.
Abby: So do you think this gets me closer to being a real New Yorker?
Olivia: Eh, who knows what a real New Yorker even is. All I know is this is a city of weirdos and your relentless positivity makes you one of the weirdest people I ever met.
Abby’s instinct to connect proves to be the saving grace on what amounts to a utopian type of Six Train commuter environment.
Honestly, any other depiction of a New York subway car would’ve included at least a half-dozen passengers with concealed or improvised weapons and another dozen intent on taking and using those weapons.
Only Abby Stone would find the train car where the most dangerous item aboard appears to be a baguette.
Meanwhile, seeing Gurgs and Dan match wits has an energizing effect on the action.
Gurgs: Enjoy your dinner. I hope your scallops are saltier than Abby’s tears when she hears she missed a chance at meeting ice skating royalty.
Dan: There won’t be any scallops. I already know that my personalized menu will rely heavily on an endangered species. It’s always been a dream of mine to eat the last of something.
The one-up-manship competition allows Lacretta to stretch her portrayal of Gurgs from jovial every-gal to a real courthouse operator deemed Dan’s worthy adversary.
Gurgs typically assumes everyone’s going along with her plans. With Dan staunchly opposed to her objective, we get to see how she behaves when faced with a real opponent.
And although Dan and Olivia have at it in court, there’s no animosity there since Dan knows exactly what makes Olivia tick, her being a younger, greener version of him in heels.
Gurgs, on the other hand, is a wholly different species to Dan, much like Bull was, really.
She’s driven by extreme, unsolicited altruism, and while that boggles his mind, Dan can’t help but admire the tenacity and underhanded means by which she seeks to achieve her ends.
After all, Dan wouldn’t give way to someone who hadn’t earned his respect.
Maybe, deep down, he doesn’t want to know what his DNA says about his tastes.
Perhaps his sophisticated presentation is just a façade masking his country roots.
Tara Lipinski: Now this is a man with presence. It’s like a daring mix of stateliness and I-couldn’t-care-less energy that is just so exciting to watch.
Johnny Weir: Well, he is known as the Bad Boy of the Courtroom for a reason, T. The passion, the fire, pageantry. You know we live for…
Both: … pageantry!
Maybe, he already knows that no restaurant could serve him anything more fitting than hogshead cheese, stewed chicken feet, and fried gizzards.
All in all, we learn a lot about our merry band of justice dispensers here.
Neil: I’m sorry! Gurgs said if I didn’t help her, she’d tell everyone where I do stand up.
Dan: Well, that’s more of a threat to us than to you!
Neil does stand-up. Abby’s willing to overturn a jury’s decision. Olivia’s got her limits. Gurgs has an ax.
And Dan’s getting softer in his maturity.
He’s still as salty (or “sour” as Linda puts it) as ever, but we’re getting regular doses of authentic humanity from him, and that evolves the character even as it elevates the show.
Remember to watch Night Court online and consider the crucial questions posed here.
Who really had a legit right to that seat? Is a seeing-eye horse that far-fetched? How many of those VHS tapes still work?
Make your judgment and record your verdict in our comments below!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.