NBC (US), TVNZ (NZ)
March 14th 2017
4 hrs 20 mins
This mockumentary follows Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto), an upbeat and enthusiastic young lawyer from New York as he defends Larry Henderson (John Lithgow), a poetry professor accused of murdering his wife by throwing her through a window.
Larry’s defence is somewhat flimsy to begin within, but keeping the eccentric and naive Larry out of jail becomes increasingly difficult for Josh, especially with the fiercely relentless and vicious prosecutor Carol Ann Keane (Jayma Mays) on his tail.
With the help of Dwayne, Anne, and Larry’s daughter, Summer, Josh refuses to let his seemingly impossible task dull his spirits. As the case unfolds we witness the forging of friendships and an abundance of ridiculousness in the small Southern town of East Peck.
Trial & Error echoes many similar shows that have come before it, most prevalently Parks and Recreation, The Office, and Arrested Development. Set in a place full of well-meaning, although incredibly small minded and archaic people (with a notoriously shallow dating pool), Trial & Error encompasses a classic and familiar scrutiny of small town America, as well as the American legal system (though, in all honesty, much of that went over my head).
It’s also worth noting that the first episode, “Chapter 1: A Big Crime in a Small Town”, was not particularly funny. It unfortunately fell into the trap of introducing characters and establishing the tone before having a chance to do anything particularly funny or impressive. It was watchable, but forgettable.
However, after persevering, I was very pleasantly surprised. Given a chance to get to know the characters more naturally, without being so bombarded with their oddities, Trial & Error provided great entertainment. As Larry’s every move threatens his case, watching Josh and the others scrabbling to do damage control provides some great moments and very clever lines.
Though initially overwhelming, the subsequent references to East Peck’s quirks and irrationality are subtler and really hit the mark. There are still the odd jokes, one or two an episode, that are a little obvious and unfunny, but in the end, a little cringe is worth a lot of laughs.
I look forward to the future of this show and hope, very much like Parks and Recreation, that Trial & Error builds on its successes and continues to improve in seasons to come.