Court is back in session!
When she thinks about it now, Melissa Rauch admits that her parents probably shouldn’t have allowed her to watch Night Court back in the day. “A lot of the jokes went over my head,” she says. “But I was such a TV junkie. And I distinctly remember watching it in my bedroom and feeling like this was something that I hadn’t seen before.”
The suburban New Jersey kid went on to co-star as Bernadette in the CBS smash sitcom The Big Bang Theory for seven seasons. She landed a production deal. And when she and her husband, writer Winston Rauch, were weighing new projects, she thought about those Thursday nights from the ‘80s. “The show was sitcom gold because it was vaudevillian with this emotional pocket,” she says. “And I loved the idea of developing a new version from a female perspective.”
That means her judge, Abby Stone, is now presiding over the court to fill the footsteps of her late father, Harry. “She’s a true optimist who’s really excited about this new chapter of her life,” she says.” She’s joined by a new district attorney (India de Beaufort), court bailiff (Lacretta) and court clerk (Kapil Talwalkar).
The new Night Court reboot premieres Jan. 17.
Still, Rauch says the show wouldn’t be complete without the presence of Larroquette’s standout Dan Fielding. “John was just this incredible force and we knew early on that if we could get him, it would be amazing,” she adds. “Really, there was no way we could do it without him.”
Onscreen, the two characters share a father-daughter-like bond. (“He’s shut himself off from the world, and Abby realizes that he needs a bit of saving.”) Behind the scenes, Rauch marveled at how Larroquette slipped so easily back into the role after a 30-year hiatus—especially while filming in front of a live studio audience. “We all watched in awe because it was so seamless,” she says. “He’s like a comedy ninja because he can always find the joke and nail it.”
And though Larroquette is the only returning cast member this season, she’s open to future visits from alums such as Richard Moll and Marsha Warfield. Until then, she teases, “There will be surprises throughout the season for fans of the original. We’re paying respect while also creating this fresh new world.”