My Take On…NBC’s smart, funny TRIAL & ERROR

TRIAL & ERROR — Pilot — Pictured: (l-r) Nicholas D’Agosto as Josh, John Lithgow as Larry — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Absurdly hilarious and hilariously absurd, that’s the simplest description of NBC’s latest comedy, the true-crime-parody series TRIAL & ERROR that starts tonight with a back to back post-THIS-IS-US (10/9c) preview.

Starring John Lithgow as Larry Henderson, a roller-skating, er, roller-cizing poetry professor who maybe murdered his wife, represented in court by Nicholas D’Agosto’s Josh Legal, a “NorthEastern” lawyer from New York trying his first murder in the fictional East Peck, SC, the show provides an inside look at the case in a documentary setting.  Loosely based on “The Staircase,” a French documentary that looked at a similar real-life case where a writer’s wife was dead and there were questions surrounding whether he pushed her or she fell, TRIAL & ERROR takes a satirical look at small town murder.

Comparisons to PARKS & REC and THE OFFICE are likely, and fitting, as we’re introduced to a wacky bunch of quirky characters, with Josh acting as the straight man (the Ben or the Jim, if you will) to the lot.  With their team set up in the local taxidermy office (hello Dave Allen Gruber), they set out to prove Larry’s innocence. Investigator Dwayne (his last name is one of the funniest reveals), played by Steven Boyer, is a former East Peck cop (having spent, oh, a day, on the force) and Josh’s right hand man; their bromance makes me smile.  

Sherri Shepherd’s Anne, the team’s “assistant, and head research, and intern,” is afflicted with some amazing ailments, each one better than the last, including but not limited to facial recognition blindness. Krysta Rodriguez plays Larry’s daughter Summer, one third of the off-beat love triangle made up of Josh, Summer, and Jayma May’s severe, buttoned up, and sexually frustrated Carol Anne Keene. The lawyer for the prosecution, Carol Anne needs a death penalty conviction to secure herself a spot running for DA, and she doesn’t care who gets in the way. 

With sight gags, quiet humor hidden in glances to the camera, sharp writing, and jokes that had me laughing out loud, creators Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller have given us something unique, silly, smart, and hilarious in TRIAL & ERROR; do yourselves a favor and check it out!

TRIAL & ERROR premieres at 10/9c on Tuesday, March 14. A rerun of the pilot airs Thursday night in POWERLESS’ timeslot, before it claims its 9/8c home next Tuesday with back to back episodes.