It takes pressure to create diamonds, and Night Court Season 1 Episode 5 applies it to both Abby and Olivia, revealing facets in the women we haven’t seen before.
When confronted by the lawyer who witnessed her most embarrassing moment, Olivia’s panic and insecurity do a lot to humanize the tough-talking prosecutor.
Meanwhile, the challenges Abby encounters looking for a new apartment (not helped by Gurgs’s non-traditional real estate skills) finally find Judge Pollyanna’s tipping point.
Much like the original series, the revival often portrays the courthouse as some sort of bureaucratic biosphere wherein the rule of law is more of a theoretical ideal.
Any people-based system — and this is probably doubly true of publically underfunded ones — relies on the exchange of services/favors and thrives on interpersonal connections.
Gurgs is the epitome of courthouse glue. And her expertise is rooted in outside-the-box thinking.
Her strategy of sourcing apartment vacancies through the Death Certificate office reminds me of Harry Burns on When Harry Met Sally, who theorizes obits and real estate listings should be combined.
There’s nothing straightforward about Gurgs’s approach to securing an apartment.
Abby: It’s just not ideal that my first apartment with Rand is somewhere where ‘two people exploded each other.’ Aw, I hope it was for love.
Gurgs: Nah, keep reading, it says it wasn’t.
She’s always looking for an advantage that, in her mind, doesn’t hurt anyone.
Gurgs: Who wouldn’t want a judge owing them a favor?
Abby: I’d rather my position not be a part of it. I became a judge because I want to help people not for the perks.
Gurgs: Okay, so you got a moral code, which is gonna make this harder.
Abby’s sensibilities are more delicate in that she’d prefer not to benefit from the misfortunes of others, like eviction and death. She also isn’t comfortable with benefiting from her position as a judge.
All very noble sentiments but clearly not effective in securing desirable accommodations.
The description of her current apartment fascinates me. Are we to understand the smells of the beer hall permeate the building and saturate all that exists in the vicinity?
Olivia: Hypothetically, if you had a co-worker who smelled like soggy cardboard in the back of a taxi, would you want me to tell you that that’s you?
Abby: I’m having some issues with my apartment. It’s above a German beer hall, so no matter what I do, I smell like a combination of sauerkraut, mustard, and soccer fan B.O.
How is that even possible? This is probably my own ignorance showing, but unless she’s literally living in the beer hall, shouldn’t her apartment have its own ventilation system?
Or is it that the beer hall puts out such pervasive fumes that they rise and flow into all the building’s air intake vents? It would be like living in a hickory smoker.
Smelling like sausages does have its upside. Who doesn’t love a bunch of dogs following them around?
It’s telling that Dan’s the one person to detect that Abby’s barometric pressure is nearing critical.
After stepping into the mentor role for Olivia — and still managing it to frame it in the most self-centered way — public defender Fielding is primed to provide guidance and counsel to Abby.
Well, sort of.
Abby: Mr. Fielding, it’s not polite to razz the prosecution.
Dan: I wasn’t razzing. I was mocking.
Some part of Dan is always looking to be entertained. He’s so world-weary that something novel is an unexpected delight.
Case in point, Olivia’s Door Pudding story.
It’s the most humiliating moment of her life and the absolute barrel-bottom instance in her career, but it sparks something in Dan.
He sees in Olivia redemption for his own whiskey-and-oyster-fueled downfall.
He builds her up and prepares her to take down her nemesis in a courtroom coup de grâce, only to be foiled by the Devonator’s substitution.
Of course I’m not going to get to go up against Lesley. Because my life has been cursed since the day that I met her. And much like that revolving door, I am now stuck in a sweaty chamber of my own failure.
But Dan rises to the occasion yet again, bolstering Olivia’s confidence (while casting himself as the hero) and propelling her to win the case.
A case which was, admittedly, anti-climactic. Lesley probably sent Devon in because she knew she’d never get her client cleared of stealing an ambulance. Olivia takes the win and feels better about herself for it.
There’s an effervescent high for a moment after Abby rules on the ambulance case.
Dan vicariously vindicates himself.
Gurgs takes the victory lap when Abby lands the apartment.
Even Neil’s strutting around, buoyed by his new bolo-tie look.
But Abby’s all teed-up for a meltdown, and when Rand texts to say he’s had to postpone his visit, it’s the final straw.
With Dan privy to Abby’s personal demons, he’s probably more observant of Abby’s mood changes.
It may even be a skill holdover from the times he saw his late wife deal with pressures that could drive her to the bottle.
Dan: You don’t have to always try and find a positive spin. You’re allowed to be mad.
Abby: I think it’s better to put positive energy out there.
Dan: To each his own. I always try to put medium energy out there. Of course, no energy is the dream.
While the series may have been revived on the pitch of Abby’s transition from upstate to Manhattan as part of her father’s legacy, Dan’s journey back from self-imposed exile is just as compelling.
His head-on attempt to help Abby relieve some of the stress she’s containing under her “It’s fine” veneer would’ve worked if the landlord hadn’t shown up.
As it is, the imagination does the heavy lifting behind Judge Stone’s closed door, bringing to life the thought of 4′ 11″ tall Abby flipping her desk like a pancake.
Sometimes the best sight gag is the aftermath.
I love that she comes back ready to play ball with the courthouse’s give-and-take structure by putting her own twist on Gurgs’s scheme.
Leave it to you to take all the fun out of bending a corrupt system to your will.
The most curious tidbit to drop here is that Abby Stone, daughter of the biggest Mel Torme fan on the planet, believes that Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” is the perfect song.
Remember, you can watch Night Court online and relive the Door Pudding description, Dan recounting why it’s as bad to remove the knife as it is to stick it back in again, and Olivia’s short-lived attempt to “walk the walk.”
Are we settling into the cast and case yet? Who do we still need to dig deeper on?
Bang your gavel and declare judgment in our comments below!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.
You can view the original article HERE.