The pilot episode for Night Court kind of set things up, but "Santa Goes Downtown" is really the launching pad for how this show hit paydirt. The unbelievable idea that the case of a drunken wino found in a store could actually present the defendant as truly being Santa Claus is exactly what Night Court is all about. The delightful Jeff Corey is the defendant who claims to be Santa Claus and faces an obvious disbelieving bunch. No matter that he knows their names, little things about their past, seeming to be Santa, Corey faces a group who simply cannot waver at the mere notion he is Jolly St. Nick. But perhaps Santa was arrested and is in this courtroom for a greater purpose: two runaway youths (Olivia Barash (Repo Man) and a young pre-stardom Michael J Fox) who fail to disclose too much information about themselves, arrested for shoplifting, hold the court at bay. While Barash is a bit more mindful of the court's attempts to help them, Fox is angry, bitter, and cynical, his family life, like hers, not all that loving. While Fox presents a young man seething with toxic frustration, underneath he's simply agonizing for just someone to show they care about him. Corey just might be the answer to Fox's dilemma. The final frame where a certain member of Santa's "posse" comes looking for him seems so fitting for such a wacky premise in this particular episode (Selma's line of "I'm not cleaning that up." is priceless!). Corey's "looking for a predecessor" to take his place with Harry really showing a discomfort in being chosen is funny. I loved the tension between Larroquette and Michael J Fox, the way Dan just loathes this "brat", and there's this one moment where Fox stands next to Bull, it's eyepopping the distance in height! Paula Kelly, not bad, replaces Gail Strickland as Public Defender, Liz Williams, and seems to have great timing. I think this is the launch pad for the show in regards to the more evenly timed gags and zingers, and the courtroom presented as a type of sitcom Twilight Zone works so well; it's no small surprise the show persevered and remained a hit for such a long duration. Fox serves notice right here that he was destined for stardom, conveying a kid mad at the world and pointedly targeting anyone who seemed to show that they cared about him, appropriately guarded as he's always felt lied to by others, affection not present in his life. I loved how Corey looks so haggard yet his claim to be Santa seems so genuine.
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