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TV Theme Songs: Night Court

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you." This time we will cover the theme song for Night Court. Night Court debuted in January of 1984 and ran nine seasons and 193 episodes. The show was set during the night shift of a Manhattan, New York municipal court presided over by "Judge Harry Stone" played by Harry Anderson and featured an outstanding ensemble cast including John Larroquette who won four consecutive Emmy awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series from 1985 to 1988 (before he withdrew his name from the ballot in 1989). The theme song is one of my favorite instrumental television theme songs of the decade. The jazzy, bass-heavy theme was composed by Jack Elliott who had previously co-written another awesome instrumental theme song for Barney Miller. Night Court was created by comedy writer Reinhold Weege, who had previously worked on Barney Miller in the '70s and early '80s, so he had that connection to Elliott. Jack Elliott was first brought out to Hollywood by Judy Garland to become an arranger for her television show in the '60s. He later co-wrote the themes to Barney Miller as previously mentioned as well as Charlie's Angels with Allyn Ferguson. Ernie Watts was chosen to have his saxophone featured on the Night Court theme song. Watts had played alto saxophone with The Tonight Show Band under Doc Severinsen for twenty years and was a featured soloist on many of Marvin Gaye's albums on Motown during the 1970s, as well as on many other pop and R&B sessions during his twenty-five years as a studio musician in Los Angeles. Not sure who played that funky bassline, but that deserves some credit as well. Here are the opening credits for season 3 of Night Court with the theme song featuring Ernie Watts...

It's not on this video, but you may remember that following the end credits theme music, a distinctive laugh can be heard dubbed over the logo for producer Reinhold Weege's Starry Night Productions. This same laugh can be heard coming from the studio audience throughout numerous seasons of Night Court because it was actually the laugh of Chuck Weege, Reinhold's father, who attended nearly all of the tapings in person. If you watched the show regularly back then or in syndication, you've heard that laugh many times and now you know who it belongs to. I generally prefer television theme songs with lyrics/vocals, but there are definitely a handful of them that are just instrumentals which I also consider truly special. Night Court is one of those in my opinion. Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!


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