Night Court Season 1 Episode 15 Review: The Honorable Dan Fielding

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Sitcoms do a funny thing — no pun intended — when they get things right. They make us care.


Night Court Season 1 Episode 15 doesn’t surprise us, but it manages to innovate within the format’s parameters.


With a finale on the horizon, character exits are expected, but I don’t think Gurgs going to Scotland Yard was on anyone’s BINGA card.


She’s demonstrated savant tendencies throughout her hijinks and is easily the most chaotic character on the team in terms of objectives and distractibility.


But she’s always guided by a good heart and a keen — if scattered — intellect.


I’m not sure what Olivia is angling at by schmoozing Emily since I’m pretty sure her law credentials won’t transfer to the UK.


Maybe having a barrister on her contacts list is a bucket list item? Or she’d like to snag one of those wigs.

Gurgs: She’s a lawyer visiting from England.
Olivia: Oh, a barrister! With the exchange rate, they’re worth 1.18 American lawyers.


In any case, the leap from Bailiff Supervisor to Super Recognizer is both surreal and entirely in keeping with Gurgs’s life as we know it.


From Sunday Bunday to her bailiff sword to her alibi standee, Gurgs has all the continuity of a time traveler and a mind palace like a Manhattan Miss Havisham.


While we’ve never seen what became of the office she and Olivia share, she’s obviously had a humanizing effect on the flinty, high-strung DA.

Olivia: Where do you feel most safe?
Gurgs: Uh, the basement level of Bed, Bath, and Beyond; the world of aquatic birds at the Bronx Zoo; and this court.
Olivia: Yes! You love this court! It’s the thing I understand least about you, and you love Daylight Savings Time.
Gurgs: Well, I love anything that Arizona is not involved in.


Unlike the other core characters, Gurgs hasn’t grown over the season as much as sprouted like a Chia Pet.


If she leaves for Scotland Yard (which I guarantee has an entrance exam), it’ll mean considerably less energy in the courtroom but potentially a more foundational bailiff.


I won’t lie. I’ve really missed Bailiff Bull in this revival.


However, without Gurgs, we would’ve been ROBBED of the moment of sheer delight that is MUPPET NEIL.


Yes, Hamburglar Olivia is bonkers, and Abby channeling Danny Zuko (?) amusing. Pennybags Dan isn’t so much a departure from reality as a potential parallel universe version of him.


But MUPPET NEIL is EVERYTHING. I sincerely hope Kapil Talwalkar got to keep his Muppet self. Or at least has visitation rights.


Can we cheer for the continuity of Neil being happily involved with Gabby still? One wonders if anyone ever let Rand in on Neil’s crush on Abby, although I can’t see Rand doing anything but empathize.


Rand is a conundrum of a character. He’s utterly inoffensive in every respect and still completely awkward in the context of the show’s cast.


There are two ways to analyze his role.


On the one hand, he symbolizes Abby’s past. He’s Skaneateles on two feet, a walking, talking personification of Upstate New York.


In this respect, he’s a contrast to Manhattan and Abby’s current existence. He’s who she was juxtaposed against who she is now.


In no way is he a villain. He just is.


He’s static, expecting Abby to be as wide-eyed and inspired by Big City novelty as he is.

You don’t understand. They were doing flips OVER me. They made Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray look like trash. Most impressive part was none of the dancing was even remotely dirty.

Rand


He’s coming to New York as a visitor, a tourist. He’s only there because Abby is and doesn’t have a vision beyond getting married and setting up house with her.


If he genuinely recognizes her future is in Manhattan, he’d be looking to make a place for himself there too. That is, if he sees his future with her.


But then there’s the Dan Factor. And I’ll admit that there’s some weirdness creeping into the Abby-Dan vibe.


The two have been a stellar pairing as mentor-mentee, curmudgeon-Pollyana, or courtroom ogre-imp.

The point is you’re always going to be her go-to person, her first phone call when she needs someone.


But when Abby calls Dan before she calls Rand, there’s a significant shift in their understanding of each other.


There were hints of it when Dan tries to pull the Mary Poppins-esque “I shall stay until the wind changes” bit, taking a judgeship in Louisiana.

Yeah, being a judge is kind of a dream I had given up on. Think about it, I’ve been judging people my entire life for free. Now, I’m gonna get a paycheque.


Abby’s distress at his departure is over-the-top even for her.


And it suddenly becomes clear that she’s transferred her affection for Harry to Dan, and his leaving is her losing her father all over again.


It’s enough to make me wonder if she didn’t embark on the seniors’ home shenanigans as a type of risk-seeking behavior bound to land her in trouble that she’d need Dan to come back and save her from.

Rand: Can’t wait for this courthouse tour. Is it true you guys have a vending machine that still sells cigarettes?
Abby: That’s nothing. We also have a working switchboard. No one uses it, but those nice ladies just have nowhere to go.


I’d be really disappointed if that’s the direction they take Abby’s character with the finale looming.


Furthermore, Rand isn’t wrong about her not prioritizing him in her life.


She verbally shunts aside her doubts about their relationship, but it’s not like they’ve worked them out. She’s just decided they were groundless.


Dan is her priority. Followed by her job. And then the total strangers her job brings into her life.

You’re not taking off for the bayou without us throwing a party to say, ‘Bye, you!’

Abby


So Rand’s other role is as a sort of NPC in the DnD of the Night Court-verse. He’s there to highlight how Abby’s values have changed.


As we slide into the finale (and back half of this two-parter), watch Night Court online and consider how much we’ve learned about these characters in a few short months.


Olivia will never be as cutthroat as she sees herself.

You know what quiets the old brain? Alcohol. Nature’s snooze button.

Olivia


Neil may have a chance at a mature and lasting relationship.


Gurgs could actually get the chance to be a femme fatale undercover operative.


But, ultimately, Dan and Abby’s subtly co-dependent scaffolding may collapse.


Where will the season leave us, Fanatics?


How many characters will exit Stage Left?

Goodbyes can be tough, but that’s how you know you had something real.

Waiter


Are you Team Rand? Or Team Reinholdt? No, wait, don’t answer that.


Just hit our comments with how you think Abby can stay on the bench after being arrested for trespassing and attempted kidnapping!

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.



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