Following 2023’s strike-filled summer, NBC’s “Night Court” was one of the first TV shows to get back to set once the labor dispute between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP was resolved in mid-November.
Having previously shot one Season 2 episode prior to the onset of the strikes, production on the comedy reboot’s new episodes sprung into action the week after Thanksgiving, affording “Night Court” a quick yet achievable turnaround for Tuesday’s premiere. The show also aired a holiday-themed installment on Dec. 23.
While a number of broadcast series faced a lag in pre-production time before returning to filming, stars Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette credit the NBC series’ quick return to finished scripts and built sets that awaited the cast during the work stoppage.
“Our sets were built [and] they had weeks in the writers’ room to gear up for Season 2,” Rauch, who also serves as an executive producer, told media while on set in December. “Even though we did have to shut down the fact that the strike ended and we were back up almost immediately … I was really grateful for and excited that we could get the ball rolling as soon as possible for everyone.”
The “Night Court” writers’ room reconvened in late September, after the WGA and the AMPTP came to a resolution on their strike. Those weeks allowed for the team to write several episodes before the actors’ return, enabling production to “hit the ground running,” according to Larroquette.
“As the strike drug on by the middle of July, it’s like, ‘alright, let’s just live and see what happens,’ because there wasn’t much work we could do,” Larroquette, who also serves as a producer, told TheWrap. “Luckily, the production was being held, the stages [were] held — everything is there. We didn’t have to rebuild all of that, which sometimes happens — they need the space, so they strike stuff — but we didn’t have to do that.”
For Larroquette, who notes he is not a producer “by profession” despite tallying up EP credits for “The John Larroquette Show” and “Payne,” preparation on behalf of “Night Court” staff and writers was the key to swiftly picking up where they left off.
“The staff stayed. The writers’ staffs came back a little early to punch up scripts,” he said. “We knew that we wanted to do a Christmas episode, so we had written that. It was easy just to step back on stage and get going because Pixie [Wespiser], our UPM, and Frank Pace and all the people at Warner Brothers [TV] were just ready. Everything [was in] place.”
Though “Night Court” succeeded in making the quick return to set work ahead of the looming December holidays, Lacretta, who stars as bailiff Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous, recalled the strike as a “nerve-wracking” time as several shows faced reverse cancellations, including Prime Video’s “A League of Their Own” and “The Peripheral” as well as Peacock’s “Bumper in Berlin.”
“It was … scary. There were some shows that didn’t make it back after the strike,” Lacretta said. “I was prepared financially for that to happen, but not mentally. I just had to keep the faith and to know that we were supported.”
India de Beaufort, who plays sassy yet endearing prosecutor Olivia Moore, noted she felt an “overwhelming feeling of gratitude for what we get to do for a living” as she stepped back on stage following the SAG-AFTRA strike.
“Having just had the pandemic and then the strike, we’ve had that reminder pretty regularly over the last few years,” de Beaufort told press. “There’s a silver lining in that. I’m grateful for what I get to do, and I don’t mind being reminded once in a while.”
“Night Court” Season 2 premieres Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 8 p.m. on NBC.