Monday, March 13, 2017

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Trial & Error - Premieres Tuesday (March 14); CBS Makes Schedule Change, While CW Orders Season 5 of The 100

Trial & Error
Trial & Error - Tuesdays at 9:00PM ET/PT on FOX
Premieres Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 10:00PM ET/PT


by Skees

Poetry professor Larry Henderson's wife has just been murdered by being tossed outside of a window, and he is the prime suspect. But did he do it? He couldn't have done it. John Lithgow stars in Trial & Error, NBC's newest series, where he is arrested and charged with the death of his late wife. If you get to know him, you learn that there is no way that he is the type of person who could be a murderer... but then all of this evidence that says otherwise keeps falling into place. It's going to take a solid team of a high priced attorney (a northeastern one!) and his team to find him not guilty against an overzealous prosecutor who "knows" he is guilty, and is willing to make a plea bargain to let him choose the method by which he'll be executed.

Cast Details:

Nick D'Agosto as Josh Simon
John Lithgow as Larry Henderson
Sherri Shepherd as Anne Flatch
Jayma Mays as Carol Anne Keane
Steven Boyer as Dwayne Reed
Krysta Rodriguez as Summer Henderson

Nick D'Agosto (Josh Simon) is best known for his recurring roles in Masters of Sex and Gotham. Additionally, he has appeared in ER, Boston Public, Cold Case, Without a Trace, and The Office, among other series.

John Lithgow (Larry Henderson) is an award winning actor who has found success on stage, the big screen, and the small screen. One of his first roles on Broadway, as a supporting actor in The Changing Room, ended with him earning a Tony Award. He has had film roles in Twilight Zone: The Movie, All That Jazz, Footloose, Harry and the Hendersons, The Manhattan Project, and many others. On television, of course, his best known role was 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Sherri Shepherd (Anne Flatch) is an actress, comedian, and talk show host who is probably best known for her role on ABC's The View. But this is far from her first time appearing in a sitcom, as she previously appeared in Less Than Perfect and the final season of Suddenly Susan, and had recurring roles on other series, such as Everybody Loves Raymond. She also briefly had her own sitcom, Sherri.

Jayma Mays (Carol Anne Keane) found her success in playing Emma Pillsbury on Glee. She has also appeared in Heroes and was among the regular cast on the CBS series The Millers.

Steven Boyer (Dwayne Reed) has mostly been a Broadway actor, but he has also been appearing on series for over a decade, beginning with a 2004 guest role in Ed. He has also appeared in Louie, Orange is the New Black, and Mom.

Krysta Rodriguez (Summer Henderson) is an actress and singer who has sort of a sitcom connection, having played Wednesday Addams in the Broadway musical, The Addams Family. On television, she has appeared in Gossip Girl, Smash, and even appeared in the pilot that was never picked up for How I Met Your Dad.


Pilot Plot:

"A Big Crime in a Small Town" (Airs March 14 at 10:00PM ET)

The pilot begins in a small town in South Carolina, where Professor Larry Henderson's wife has died at his home. And given that her death came after falling out of a window, foul play is suspected. Specifically, it is suspected that Larry killed his own wife. His brother-in-law, a wealthy tobacco baron, believes that there is no way that Larry killed her, and puts all of his resources together to hire a "northeastern" (he sort of admits that what he means is "Jewish") attorney to put together a team to prove his innocence. Before the big attorney comes in, though, attorney Josh Segal (Nick D'Agosto) arrives on the scene for preliminary hearings and nothing more. But when the first piece of incriminating evidence comes out against Larry, plans start to change for everybody.


"A Wrench in the Case" (Airs March 14 at 10:30PM ET)

In the second episode of the series, Josh continues to work hard (though without the financial support he arrived on) to help Larry prove his innocence. But as always, there are many wrenches in the case, specifically a skate wrench. While facing serious murder charges, Larry is more concerned about a missing skate wrench than he is about his own wife and charges, and the obsession is certainly not helping his case.



Analysis:

Honestly, aside from John Lithgow, who has proven himself to be a quality sitcom star in the past with 3rd Rock from the Sun, I kind of expected this series to be a dud. But in watching the first four episodes of it, I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, it is actually a bizarre and somewhat quirky comedy. It was pretty clear from the previews that Lithgow's character of Larry Henderson (side note: it's interesting that his last name is Henderson, given his role in Harry and the Hendersons) was going to be a quirky character, and that didn't seem like quite enough. But as it turns out, pretty much every character on the show has some serious flaws. Sherri Shepherd's character, Anne Flatch, deals with a number of obscure disorders that tend to always cause problems as the case progresses. I feel it is worth pointing out here that this really is one of the best roles I've seen for Shepherd. It isn't the first time that she has appeared in a sitcom, but this is finally a role that fits for her. Steven Boyer's character, Dwayne Reed (he fantasizes about visiting this place in New York that bears his name), is a very inept investigator who just keeps making things worse than they were in the first place. And Jayma Mays' character, prosecutor Carol Anne Keane, is refreshing, as it portrays the prosecutor as being the opportunistic attorney who's willing to do anything at any cost to achieve her goal of becoming the chief prosecutor... although this may be a little more extreme than in the real world, as her only goal is to figure out a way to get Larry Henderson executed by any means necessary, with little regard to ethics.

What I really like about the series, though, is that it sort of keeps us in mystery. In watching it, I didn't initially think Larry killed his wife. But much like those Dateline NBC true crime stories with Keith Morrison, there is always something happening in this series that plants doubt in your mind. And they're very careful, perhaps due to the mockumentary style of the series, to not lead you in telling you exactly what happened. It's not clear that anybody truly knows, for that matter.

It's important to point out that the series is really a serial series, in that you can't just sit down and pick an episode and enjoy it. You really do need to watch the episodes in order, beginning with the first episode, to follow the story line and understand what is going on. It's not exactly impossible to jump in on one and find things funny, but it seems like it would be challenging to fully understand what is going on otherwise. Which leads to another point: the serial nature also makes the viewer curious as to what will happen next, and leads one to want to binge watch the episodes rather than having to wait to see what comes next. That would make it a more natural show for a streaming service like Netflix, but is sort of problematic for linear networks like NBC, where you'll have to wait a week between pairs of episodes (though all six of them, most likely the entire first season, are scheduled to air over the next three weeks).

One problem with the series, though, is that it is centered around this one murder case. It's a good story line, but if the series survives, eventually Larry Henderson is going to have to go to trial and be found guilty or not guilty. It's not quite clear where the series would go from there, but unless the writers are really creative, it seems pretty obvious that he'll need to be found guilty of the murder for the series to have any future (and then the case would have to go to appeals), because otherwise the series would have to be retooled into something very different. And when series get retooled, it rarely works out for the best.

One more thing to point out that is sort of an aside: the second episode featured a few very brief appearances from Marla Gibbs, who plays one of Larry's neighbors. It's great to see Marla Gibbs is still continuing to make appearances on TV shows rather regularly, and if this show manages to survive past the first six episodes, I'd love to see at least a little more of her. Being the neighbor could potentially make her a good witness in the case, especially for the prosecution.


Conclusion:

Who knew that a comedy series about a man who is accused of murdering his wife could actually be funny? I like the series, but considering that it is not exactly a traditional sitcom and seeing how NBC seems to be eager to burn off six episodes (likely the entire first season) within three weeks, it's unclear what sort of future this series could have. This is definitely another one of those series that probably would have worked better on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but it's happening on NBC, so they'll just have to make the best of it. I hope that they can. If not, these six episodes make a nice short series to enjoy for the time being.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 10:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Trial & Error Photo Gallery



  • Preview:






    The Amazing Race

    Long-running reality series The Amazing Race will now premiere in its new time period Thursday, March 30 at 10:00PM ET/PT, replacing the previously announced date on Friday, April 21, on the CBS Television Network. As a result, new drama Training Day will move to Saturday at 9:00 PM ET/PT, beginning April 8, with all seven of the season's remaining episodes broadcast on consecutive weeks following new episodes of Ransom, which airs thru April 8. Undercover Boss returns with four original episodes beginning Friday, April 28 at 8:00PM ET/PT following the season finale of MacGyver on April 21. CBS's Thursday primetime lineup is pre-empted on March 16 and March 23 for coverage of The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Meanwhile, The CW Network has renewed its acclaimed hit sci-fi drama The 100 for the 2017-18 season. The 100 stars Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Isaiah Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Zach McGowan, Bob Morley, Marie Avgeropoulos, Devon Bostick, Lindsey Morgan, Ricky Whittle, and Christopher Larkin.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, October 18

    The Big Bang Theory - "The Planetarium Collision" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When Amy doesn’t have time to work on super-asymmetry, Sheldon goes to great lengths to ensure she’s available to work with him even it if means accidentally sabotaging her career in the process. Also, Koothrappali doesn’t want Wolowitz to join him in hosting a show at the planetarium. Emmy Award winner Bob Newhart returns as Arthur Jeffries.

    Young Sheldon - "A Research Study and Czechoslovakian Wedding Pastries" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Dr. Sturgis (Wallace Shawn) recommends Sheldon and Missy for a university research study on twins, and Mary is unhappy when the test results go to Sheldon’s head.

    Mom - "Big Sauce and Coconut Water" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Christy is certain that Bonnie is in over her head when she invites a freshly paroled Tammy (Kristen Johnston) to stay with them.

    Murphy Brown - "Three Shirts to the Wind" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Murphy and the team weigh the pros and cons of accepting the offer to have the first interview with a headline-grabbing former White House senior advisor (David Costabile) who wants to promote his divisive book and agenda on “Murphy in the Morning.” Also, Avery moderates a lively political discussion on his show with locals in Buffalo, N.Y.. Original series cast member Charles Kimbrough returns as Jim Dial in his first of three episodes, and Merle Dandridge guest stars as the team’s arrogant network boss, Diana Macomber.

    Superstore - "Toxic Workplace" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) get combative to keep their new relationship hidden from their co-workers. Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) spirals when he learns Kelly (Kelly Stables) wants to transfer to a new store, and Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) struggles to organize a Cloud 9 carpool.

    The Good Place - "Jeremy Bearimy" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

    Will & Grace - "Tex and the City" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack (Sean Hayes) visit Jack’s grandson, Skip (guest star Samuel Faraci), in Texas to watch him perform at his church’s talent show. But when Jack learns Skip plans on singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” he becomes afraid for his grandson’s safety. Karen (Megan Mullally) tags along to check out the portion of the border wall she sponsored, only to discover that Beverley Leslie (guest star Leslie Jordan) has claimed it as his own. Back home, Grace (Debra Messing) and Noah (guest star David Schwimmer) try to figure out if something is wrong in their relationship because their numerous attempts to have sex have failed.

    I Feel Bad - "I'm Vain A.F." (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    An upcoming launch party at GamePunch throws Emet’s vanity into overdrive. Intent on scrubbing a bad picture off the company website, Emet is dead set on redeeming herself and getting the perfect photo at this year’s party – that means getting her hair done, professional make-up and toning up a problem area: her husband.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 15)

    Thursday, October 18

    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Laura Benanti (The Detour/Go On/Starved) - Laura stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • John Mulaney (Mulaney) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Meredith Hagner (Search Party/Men at Work) - Meredith is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Maya Rudolph (Forever/Up All Night) - Maya drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Stockard Channing (Out of Practice/The Stockard Channing Show/Stockard Channing in Just Friends) - Stockard visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Jenna appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • John Stamos (Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House) - John talks about You on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Michael Fishman and Maya Lynne Robinson (The Conners/Roseanne) - Michael and Maya Lynne are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET. Michael and Lecy Goranson can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM.
    • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/The Trouble in Normal, Ohio) - John talks about The Big Lebowski reunion on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Bailee Madison (Trophy Wife) - Bailey talks about Hallmark Channel's Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

    The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

    09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
    09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
    09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
    09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
    09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
    09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
    10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
    10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
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