Night Court Episode Review: "Pen Pal"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 6 television episode that first aired in April 1989.

Synopsis: Christine’s (Markie Post) prison pen pal, James (Dennis Haysbert) comes to visit her after being released and Roz (Marsha Warfield) falls for him. However, as their relationship begins to get serious, the Night Court staff learns James wasn’t released from prison, he escaped. Meanwhile, Art (Mike Finneran) is in the fight of his life as the courthouse becomes infested with cockroaches.

Review

I recorded this episode yesterday evening and ended up watching it this morning before work. When I first read the description, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. But, it was actually a pretty decent episode.

I think the most memorable part of this episode had to be the roaches and the way the popped up everywhere, whether it was to ruin lunch for Christine and the rest of the staff or to ruin Dan’s (John Larroquette) chances at wooing a young woman (I liked this part the best because of the way he accidentally ends up chasing her with the cockroaches in hand, as though she wasn't terrified enough).

The part with Roz and Christine’s pen pal was also somewhat interesting, mostly because of the way she became a completely changed woman when she was in a relationship and was nice to everyone instead of being rude to everyone. However, that part of the episode was also admittedly a bit predictable and it wasn’t too hard to figure out, once it was revealed James had escaped, what was going to happen to that relationship.

Even the scene toward the end, with Bull (Richard Moll) leaving James and Roz alone on the roof was somewhat predictable. Granted, I wasn’t really sure of the exact way that was going to end. But, I kind of figured they would find some sort of common ground that resulted in him going back to prison but keeping the relationship still intact.

I think the only real surprise was Harry (Harry Anderson) having to intervene to prevent James from being punished too harshly for the escape. That part, unfortunately, was kind of short and really didn't make that much of a difference.

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Final Opinion

As I said before, the main story with Roz and Christine’s pen pal is a bit predictable and, because of that, is somewhat forgettable. And, had that been the only reason to watch this episode, I probably wouldn’t have scored it as high.

The saving grace for this episode, in my opinion at least, has to be the scenes with the cockroaches. Yes, it’s a simply plot. But, the roaches also result in a lot of memorable jokes and the episode is worth watching as a result.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/17/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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