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Early Roles The Cast Of Night Court Probably Want You To Forget About

Following its 1984 debut, "Night Court" would become one of the decade's most popular sitcoms, running for nine seasons and serving as a cornerstone of NBC's iconic "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup before closing out its run in the early '90s. 

Set in a fictional New York City courtroom run by the amiable Judge Harry T. Stone, the series followed the quirky cases and personal lives of the oddball characters who worked them. Beloved for its offbeat tone and sharp comedic wit, it boasted a roster of talented stars that brought them to life, including Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Richard Moll.

In 2023, "Night Court" returned for a new generation, with a mostly-new cast led by former series star John Larroquette and actress Melissa Rauch. The series was an immediate hit, quickly renewed for a second season, and between the two shows, the franchise has established a wide breadth of talented sitcom stars from two separate eras. 

But, wherever you find a talented actor, you can find at least one project from their past that didn't work out as hoped. Some "Night Court" stars have appeared in TV shows and movies that have been critically panned or flopped hard at the box office. So, which ones might they look back on with regret? All rise, this is a list of roles from the cast of "Night Court" that they'd rather have dismissed.

Charles Robinson battled thugs in The Black Gestapo

Every court needs its clerk, and in the original 1984 "Night Court," Charles Robinson played 'Mac' Robinson, sarcastic assistant to Judge Harry T. Stone. He entered the series in the second season, and became a key part of the show's comedy dynamic, his laid back attitude contrasting with star Harry Anderson's more wacky, over-the-top antics. Though Robinson has had a long and successful career that continues to this day, he'll always be best-remembered as Mac. What he might not want to be so remembered for is one of his earliest movies, the 1975 film "The Black Gestapo."

A sleazy, 1970s Blaxploitation flick, "The Black Gestapo" was based on an intriguing premise that looked to bring the Black Panther Party into the era of John Shaft: A group of militant citizen-soldiers hoping to clean up the inner city streets of Los Angeles start fighting back against their oppressors. Led by Ahmed (Rod Perry), they're called The People's Army, and they run food banks and other services for the community when they're not busting heads of local gangs. Robinson stars as Colonel Kojah, Ahmed's loyal first officer, who goes to war with a group of New York tough guys who come looking for trouble.

Absolutely not for the faint of heart, nor at all safe for work, "The Black Gestapo" would become a minor cult classic in Blaxploitation circles. But given just how vile much of the film is, and the friendly nature of his most iconic character, it's a bit unsettling to see the jovial Robinson gunning people down.

Markie Post in Elmore Leonard's unjustified Glitz

Joining the series in Season 3 of the original "Night Court" was Markie Post as Christine Sullivan, the acerbic defense attorney and constant sparring partner to John Larroquette's Dan Fielding. Though she'd had a regular role on the NBC hit "The Fall Guy," it was her six seasons on "Night Court" that made her a TV star.  But her biggest regret might have been appearing in a long-forgotten TV movie: A starring role in the regrettable Elmore Leonard adaptation "Glitz," opposite future "NYPD Blue" star Jimmy Smits.

Post was cast as a sexy lounge singer in dingy Atlantic City, whose life is thrown upside down with the arrival of Miami cop Vincent Marra (Smits). The gun-toting lawman enters the New Jersey casino town after the death of his ex-girlfriend, who may have been killed by a crook he once put away. When the Florida cop and the Jersey girl join forces to get answers, they fall in love in the process.

A cheap, joyless thriller entirely devoid of the slick charm of later Leonard adaptations like "Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown," or "Justified," the 1988 made-for-TV movie was a poorly staged, wannabe crime noir. Post had little to do but pine for the totally uncharismatic Smits character, even caught in an awkward sex scene that's thankfully interrupted by a violent thug. Regarded as one of the worst translations of one of the legendary crime writer's stories (yes, even worse than "Be Cool"), "Glitz" is one of Post's worst efforts too.

Richard Moll endured a Cataclysm

It's hard to beat the laughs generated by Bull, the dim-witted bailiff on "Night Court" played by the chrome-domed Richard Moll. Like most of the cast, his role in the series is his most iconic, but he had a fruitful career before and after it, perhaps most notably voicing Harvey Dent and Two-Face in "Batman: The Animated Series." He's also had a long list of bad b-movies, from 1987's "Survivor" to 1995's "Galaxis," and it's hard to find the worst one. But when it comes to his earliest, it's not a tough call: it's 1980's "Cataclysm," just his second feature film (he played Mormon founder Joseph Smith in the first).

In "Cataclysm," sometimes called "The Nightmare Never Ends," Moll — credited under the name "Charles Moll" — appears alongside schlock icon Cameron Mitchell. The film centers on a gruff detective (Mitchell) who decides to help an old Holocaust survivor and friend on his mission to hunt down escaped Nazis. Their latest target is Olivier (Robert Bristol), a blood-thirsty demon who may just be the devil himself. Moll turns up as James Hanson, an accomplished author and anti-theologian who hosts a talk show to spout his atheistic views.

The only reason Moll may not regret this one might be the shocking locks of hair he sports. Because otherwise, the film is exactly the kind of low-rent garbage that most actors lament doing early in their careers.

Marsha Warfield left the courtroom for Caddyshack II

Thick-headed Bull wasn't the only bailiff on "Night Court," as he always had a faithful partner. The series cycled through several different actors — including Selma Diamond and Florence Halop — before landing on the one who made the most memorable impression, Marsha Warfield as Roz, the impenetrable, no-nonsense, court bouncer. Outside of "Night Court," she might be best known for her own single-season talk show, "The Marsha Warfield Show," but she does have a few movie roles she might want fans to forget about. The most significant being the infamous cash grab "Caddyshack II."

A sequel to one of the best '80s comedies, "Caddyshack II" failed to bring back most of its original cast — gone were Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and others — with the returning Chevy Chase limited to a minor role. Though the film tries to find suitable replacements, the likes of Jackie Mason, Robert Stack, Dyan Cannon, Brian McNamara, Randy Quaid, and Warfield simply couldn't recapture the magic. The film returns to the Bushwood Country Club, where this time the snooty members meet their match in Jack Hartounian (Jackie Mason). A crass but lovable real estate magnate, Jack buys Bushwood and transforms it from an elite social club into a family fun park called Jackie's Wacky Golf. 

A legendary flop, the cast of "Caddyshack II" — including original star Chevy Chase, who was reportedly disgusted by how bad it was — have struggled ever since to live the film down. 

Brent Spiner was almost stuck in Paradise

The original "Night Court" was about more than just the men and women who worked in the courtroom. What made it so special was its array of eccentric, recurring guest characters who'd pop up as repeat offenders on trial. This included the eccentric vagrant Phil Sanders (William Utay) and of course, perpetually unlucky simpleton Bob Wheeler, played by Brent Spiner. Though Spiner went on to establish an iconic role as Commander Data on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" shortly thereafter, just a year before, he almost missed his shot at stardom when he appeared in the ill-fated sitcom, "Sylvan in Paradise."

Shot as a pilot for a series that mercifully never came to fruition, "Sylvan in Paradise" was planned as a starring vehicle for TV legend Jim Nabors ("Gomer Pyle, USMC"), who played the title character. Sylvan Sprayberry worked at a Hawaiian resort, and Spiner played the hotel's manager, Clinton C. Waddle, an uptight, high-strung fussbudget. Notably, Courtney Cox also had a role as Lucy, the daughter of Polly, who runs the resort's gift shop.

Bad even by '80s TV standards, "Sylvan in Paradise" would be entirely forgotten if not for the magic of YouTube, where it's available for all to see. But Spiner is undoubtedly thrilled it never went anywhere, because if it had he might never have found his place as sci-fi's greatest TV android.

Karen Austin partied at the Ladies Club

For the first season of "Night Court" in 1984, it was actress Karen Austin who filled the role of court clerk, starring as Lana Wagner, who was also a romantic foil for Judge Stone (Harry Anderson). In her career, Austin appeared on screens big and small, in terrific TV shows like "St. Elsewhere," "L.A. Law," and "Murder One," to flop films like "Summer Rental." There may even be more than a few roles she'd want swept under the rug if she had a say, but the worst one might be the cringe-inducing 1985 revenge film, "The Ladies Club."

In this D-grade, low-budget thriller, a group of women — all victims of sexual assault — decide to form their own vigilante group called the Ladies Club to hunt down men who attack women, and then castrate them. Sometimes going by the alternative title "Violated," it's exactly the kind of garbage you'd expect, and it proved so bad and horrendously offensive that even the talent involved tried to distance themselves from it when it was released. Director Janet Greek was so incensed by how the film was marketed that she had her name changed in the credits, ultimately going by the pseudonym "A.K. Allen."

Karen Austin, meanwhile, expressed disgust at the final product too, reportedly upset by the movie's groan-worthy tagline: "Men who attack women have two big problems. The Ladies Club is about to remove them both."

Lacretta's first bomb was Second Act

The new "Night Court" in 2023 added a whole new cast of actors to the world of Harry T. Stone. In place of bailiffs like Bull and Roz was Donna 'Gurgs' Gurganous, played by Lacretta. 

The actress worked all over the New York acting scene in the 2010s, from theaters to comedy clubs, and even a handful of TV guest appearances, before landing the gig as star of the "Night Court" revival. But even though she had just five prior acting appearances, she too has a skeleton in her filmography: the 2018 Jennifer Lopez bomb "Second Act."

A coming-of-middle-age story, "Second Act" sees whip-smart retail manager Maya (Lopez) fed up with her life. Taking the bull by the horns, Maya leaves her job, forges a false identity, and pursues a corporate career after faking a degree from Harvard. With grit and determination, Maya proves that anyone can get ahead with enough moxie... if they lie about their credentials. Although the movie's message feels debatable, it really isn't worth the effort.

"Second Act" found a way of succeeding at the box office thanks to a minuscule budget; dollars or not though, the movie falls flat on its face. The Chicago Tribune praised its likable cast but tore into its "nearly hopeless script," which it called "preposterously coincidental, outrageously contrived."

Kapil Talwalkar had no fun in Prep School

Stepping in to fill the shoes of "Mac" Robinson as the court clerk for the reboot is actor Kapil Talwalkar as Neil. A relative newcomer, Talwalkar has just a few projects to his credit; it could \ be his very first on-screen role that he might want to erase from the collective consciousness (and his IMDb page). That would be the 2015 indie drama "Prep School," written and directed by Sean Nichols Lynch ("Red Snow"). 

Predictable to the point that it will get your eyes rolling, "Prep School" explores the personal lives of a handful of students at a prestigious academy. When one of them is injured and can't compete in the big rugby match, their fragile male egos all respond in kind to the fallout. Talwalkar plays a student bullied for his ethnicity, and unfortunately the script didn't deal with the issue to his satisfaction. Back in 2015, the actor had little leverage as a fresh-faced young actor, but years later he would chat with CastingSociety.com about how the film frustrated him.

"I played a high school kid being harassed for being Punjabi," he told the outlet. "It was tough, and I'm glad the writers took a risk to talk about that subject, but looking back I would have handled it differently and have been more vocal on getting the scene more accurate. I've since learned how to be more of my own advocate in those scenarios."

John Astin took a ride in a Wacky Taxi

A rarity for "Night Court," the character of Buddy Ryan was played by a Hollywood veteran who already had an iconic TV role under his belt: John Astin. Former star of "The Addams Family" in the 1960s and films from "The Wheeler Dealers" to "National Lampoon's European Vacation" to "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," Astin returned to sitcom life in the recurring role of Ryan, Harry Stone's endearing dad. Astin is no stranger to bad movies and TV shows (he did, after all, play "Professor Gangreen" in "Killer Tomatoes Eat France!"), but when it comes to ones he would probably take back if he could, it's not a tough call. His absolute worst outing, "Wacky Taxi" from 1972 takes the cake.

A saccharine G-rated monstrosity, "Wacky Taxi" starred Astin as family man Pepe "Pepper" Morales. Pepper is a Mexican-American who struggles to support his growing household, including four kids and wife Maria, who's got another bun in the oven. Pepper always has some wild, cockeyed idea up his sleeve to make money, and his latest is to quit his boring office job and start a taxi cab service. He invests every penny he has in a beat up old Cadillac and gets to work, but nothing ever goes right, in typical madcap movie fashion.

An embarrassingly unfunny affair, "Wacky Taxi" fails at every level, from nonsensical plot points to sloppy editing. Easily Astin's worst (and keep in mind, this is someone who appeared in "Body Slam" alongside Rowdy Roddy Piper), it's lucky he had a few famous roles to tout when his career came to a close, or people might just remember this one.

Melissa Rauch in Kath and Kim

The star of the 2023 revival of "Night Court," Melissa Rauch plays Abby Stone, daughter of legendary New York judge Harry T. Stone. For many, Rauch may be most recognizable for her role as Bernadette on "The Big Bang Theory," where she starred for almost a decade. Before she joined that series though, she almost starred in a different TV sitcom, "Kath and Kim," which saw release for a single aborted season in 2008. It had a lot of stellar talent involved, with a cast that included Selma Blair, Molly Shannon, John Michael Higgins, and Mikey Day. 

A remake of a classic Australian comedy of the same name, "Kath and Kim" revolved around an upbeat mom (Shannon) and her prissy daughter (Blair), with Rauch starring as Kim's friend Tina. With "The Office" proving a huge hit as an American remake of an overseas original just a few years earlier, NBC surely had high hopes that "Kath and Kim" could be the next big thing. Unfortunately, the results were so phenomenally terrible, the season was cut short, with the network chopping off five episodes from its run due to low ratings and abominable reviews.

As far as those reviews go, the San Francisco Gate called the series "a contender for the worst remake ever" while labeling the first two episodes "jaw dropping in their awfulness." Reaction from audiences was no better.

John Larroquette can't unsee Second Sight

"Night Court" wouldn't be the same without Dan Fielding and actor John Larroquette, who made the ill-tempered, snippy, and sarcastic prosecutor one of the best funnymen of the '80s and a TV legend. But while the comic actor is never not funny in the role, you might be surprised to learn he's had several duds in his career, from 1999's critically lambasted sitcom "Payne" — a remake of the British classic "Fawlty Towers" — to the brutally bad 1994 live-action adaptation of comic character "Richie Rich." But none were quite as terrible as the 1989 movie "Second Sight."

Pairing the "Night Court" vet with fellow sitcom star Bronson Pinchot, of "Perfect Strangers" fame, "Second Sight" is a limp, lifeless comedy. Larroquette plays Wills, a private eye who runs a detective agency with his weird and wacky sidekick Bobby (Pinchot). But this is no ordinary team of super-sleuths, because Bobby has psychic powers, and together they investigate paranormal crimes and vaguely weird mysteries.

Maybe if it had been a weekly series, "Second Sight" could have worked as the duo tackled different cases each week, in a mix of comedy, horror, and crime procedural. But as a one-off movie it just doesn't work, and the two TV icons just don't elicit the laughs you'd expect, mostly thanks to a dull, insipid script.

Harry Anderson was caught up in Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs

Rising to stardom thanks to his wacky magic acts, comedian Harry Anderson made a name for himself as a family-friendly stage comic at a time when edgier names like Eddie Murphy and Roseanne Barr were rocking the roof off clubs. Following a string of appearances on "Saturday Night Live," Anderson got the gig as Judge Harry T. Stone, cementing his legacy as one of the most famous TV gavel-bangers ever. But in 1988, amidst the height of his sitcom career, Anderson starred in a TV movie that might be the low point of his entire filmography.

A woeful spoof of spy movies, "Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs" sees Anderson take on the role of Freddie, a government agent out to stop a presidential assassination. But his unlikely recruits turn out to be Alan (a U.N. translator, played by Ed Begley Jr.) and his schoolteacher wife Beverly (played by Linda Purl). Embroiled in the high stakes world of international espionage, Alan and Beverly are suddenly confronted with all kinds of crazy schemes, double-crosses and shocking reveals that might be interesting if it they weren't so cheap and boring, with gags that wouldn't make a toddler chuckle.

Part slapstick, part... well, who knows what... "Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs" doesn't seem to even have a reason to exist. It's not a good spy movie, it's not a good spoof, and it doesn't seem to understand how to use its otherwise talented roster of actors.