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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PILOT REVIEW: Trial & Error


Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto, Jayma Mays, Steven Boyer, Krysta Rodriguez, with Sherri Shepherd, and John Lithgow

Created by Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller
Written by Jeff Astrof & Matt Miller, Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

In an era where there is a public fascination with true-life crime stories, it was only a matter of time before a parody appeared. We have that now in Trial & Error, a comedy that clearly draws the most inspiration from Netflix sensation Making a Murderer. Larry Henderson (John Lithgow) is a poetry professor in a small southern town accused of killing his wife. A young lawyer from New York, Josh Simon (Nick D'Agosto) is hired to defend him along with his team of two locals: Dwayne (Steven Boyer) and Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd). Rounding out the main cast is the prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays) and Larry's daughter, Summer (Krysta Rodriguez).

I absolutely love the premise. I'm an unabashed fan of most of these true crime stories (I even watched the Menendez brother special on ABC in January). But even as a fan of those, I appreciate that they are ripe for parody and this show seems to have all the right ideas in place for making a great satire. The problem is it just hasn't come all together and it isn't all that funny.

Unfortunately, it all plays a little too niche for me. I know this has been a criticism of shows I've loved like Parks and Recreation, but right now I'm finding the humor to be lacking. The cast is very strong. John Lithgow is a veteran who needs to be given more to do and allowed to be more eccentric than he's coming across (they seem to want him to be really eccentric but the writing does not seem to match up). I liked Nicholas D'Agosto as the lead and I thought Krysta Rodriguez was promising in a small part in the pilot. Steven Boyer could get on my nerves but had some funny moments. By far the biggest problem in the cast is Sherri Shepherd and I don't think a lot of it is Shepherd's fault. It's a stupidly written character who is nothing more than a series of odd quirks. Even if an oddball show like this, characters can't be straight up cartoons and unfortunately Shepherd's character is and it's very distracting and bad.

I really wanted to like Trial & Error and I'm willing to give it a couple more episodes because shows like this sometimes take awhile to gel. Look at the beginning of Parks and Recreation or The Office, probably two of the three most famous mockumentaries to hit TV. Also the premise is enough for me to be curious to see how the case itself actually resolves (and how will this show keep going if it gets renewed for a second season?). There was more "error" than I hoped for in Trial & Error, especially with a lot of positive reviews but I just wanted it to be better than it was.

Yes, I am watching the second episode now but a lot of the same problems persist. I'll still give it some time because I really want to like it.

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