Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Melissa Rauch On Upholding The Night Court Legacy And Her Time On The Big Bang Theory - Exclusive Interview

Melissa Rauch made a name for herself by starring in the hugely popular "The Big Bang Theory," in which she played Howard's love interest, Bernadette. It was a breakout role that lasted for 10 seasons, until the series ended in 2019.

Now, in her first major endeavor since "The Big Bang Theory" wrapped things up, Rauch is presiding over a new series, a revival of the hit 1980s sitcom "Night Court." Rauch plays the daughter of the late Harry Stone (Harry Anderson), Judge Abby Stone, who now sits on the same bench her father did as part of the night shift at the Manhattan Criminal Court. Starring alongside her is original cast member John Larroquette, who reprises his role as attorney Dan Fielding.

Ahead of the series premiere, which airs tonight on NBC, Rauch sat down with Looper for an exclusive interview in which she discussed the "Night Court" legacy, working with Larroquette, and what she learned from "The Big Bang Theory."

Rauch hopes fans view the Night Court revival as an homage

What a fun revival. What drew you to this series? Were you a fan of the original?

I was a big fan of the original. I remember very vividly watching it growing up. I even had some of my favorite episodes recorded on a VHS tape that I would go back and watch over and over again. When "Big Bang" ended, I had this production company at Warner Bros., and we were working on developing projects that focused on multi-cams because I fell in love with the format so much. That was our mission — making sure that we could potentially help in adding more multi-cams to the TV landscape and keeping that format alive, and that's the foundation of "Night Court."

If you're looking for a show, it's almost like looking for a home that has good bones, and that's very much what "Night Court" is. You have the construct of all these cases coming in and out of the door, which is an organic story generator, and then you have the workplace family [aspect]. So it's ripe for a revival. Plus, I feel like after the past few years, we can really use a laugh and want that comfort every week — and inside the walls of a show that I found a lot of comfort in growing up, it felt right.

While it must somewhat feel like a safety net reviving a popular show, it also must be a little daunting to live up to the original. What was the most important aspect for you to get right in terms of bringing this show and your character to life?

Yes to all of that. You have this formula of what the show once was, but then at the same time, you have to get it right because there's a whole fan base that already loves it. I know when I hear "reboot," I'm like, "Ahhh, what are you going to do to this show I like?" So we all came in with [the idea that] we had to pay respect to the original. There are a lot of Easter eggs, and there is an homage to everything that we love so much about it. 

At the same time, there's this fresh new cast of characters. For people who love the original, there's so much there for them. But then people who've never seen the show before could come in without any prior knowledge and enjoy it without having to know anything about what once was.

The Big Bang Theory gave her a love of multi-camera shows

What's it like working with John Larroquette? Has he told you any good stories from the original set?

He's a dream, and I am such a fan of his. I still can't believe that I get to be in scenes with him. He has so many wonderful stories. He's a wonderful storyteller, and I hang on his every word and can listen to him talk for hours because he's not only so charming, but he has a wisdom about him and he's so funny. He was very involved in the development process of the show, so I felt very lucky. We were developing this during the pandemic, and we didn't actually meet until we were on set filming the pilot, and we built this friendship over the phone. He's such a force. He's a wonderful human and a masterclass in this format.

You mentioned "The Big Bang Theory" earlier. What did you learn on that show that you brought with you to "Night Court"?

That's a great question. The [experience with] multi-cam — I had never done it before I got the part on "Big Bang," and it is a different beast in the muscle that you're working in front of the camera. I came from a theater background, and the first time that I had a live taping at "Big Bang," I was like, "This is the best of TV and the best of theater all mushed together into this amazing platform." It was working that multi-cam muscle that I learned on "Big Bang," learning what those ropes were, because there's a different rhythm to it and there's a different pacing. 

I was grateful that I had that training ground there because working on that show was a dream come true. I feel very lucky that I had almost [a] sitcom-college experience as far as the best education I could possibly get.

What was your favorite part of being on "The Big Bang Theory"? Do you have a favorite memory you can share?

It's such a family, and I loved coming to work every day, as I do now. I remember the first time that I got to sit on the couch eating Chinese food with the cast. I had started as a guest star on the show, and it was supposed to be just one episode. Once they started bringing me back more, I didn't know how long I was going to be there. Then, I very vividly remember the first time that it was in the script and I was going to eat Chinese food with the cast. My parents were fans of the show for the years leading up to it, and I remember calling them and saying, "I'm going to get to sit on the couch with everyone!" 

That moment was very exciting. It was meta in the sense that I was getting to sit with my new workplace family, and then also on the show, it felt like I was being more integrated and it was the start of what was to come.

Melissa Rauch thinks a Big Bang Theory reunion might be in the future

Here's a fun theoretical question for you: Have you given any thought to a "Big Bang" revival possibly happening decades down the line, à la "Night Court"? What do you think that might be like?

The only way that I had the thought was when I was talking to John about him coming back [to "Night Court"]. I did think about what that would feel like if someone was coming to me 30 years from now asking me if I would come back. We had those conversations because I wanted him to know that the same way I would want someone to protect the legacy of what I had done with this group of friends years ago, I would want that done for him as well.

But at this moment, I'd be like, "Ah, no, it ended so perfectly." I would never want to tamper with that. However, I think doing something like a reunion special like the cast of "Friends" did may be in the cards down the line. I could see that happening. A revival right now — I'd be like, "Nah, I don't think so." But 30 years from now, if someone came knocking on my door the way I did to John — never say never.

Speaking of legacies, what kind of legacy do you hope this "Night Court" revival leaves?

The beauty of the original was the laughter that it brought to people, and we're hoping to do the same thing. The original also had these beautiful moments of heart that were sandwiched in between this vaudevillian-esque comedy, and that was something that I was always drawn to, the ability to make people feel something along with the laughter. It would be a real honor if we were able to do the same.

The new "Night Court" premieres tonight, January 17, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

This interview has been edited for clarity.