Murder in the real world is never funny however, for one reason or another, audiences are intrigued by murder. One of the ways in which audiences express their strange interest in murder and murder trials is through the success of real crime documentaries. As a regular viewer of true crime documentaries and television programmes, I was instantly intrigued in NBC's new mokumentary series titled Trial & Error which aims to satirises true crime documentaries and television shows, such as Making A Murderer which never seem to be unpopular.
The show's plot is as follows:
Josh (Nicholas D’Agotso), a bright-eyed New York lawyer, heads to a tiny Southern town to defend Larry Henderson, an eccentric poetry professor (John Lithgow) accused of the hilariously bizarre murder of his wife. Josh's optimism never ceases despite his legal team of unqualified local misfits including Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd) and Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer) and a makeshift office behind a taxidermy shop. Winning his first big case isn't going to be easy, especially when his client continues to unwittingly say and do things that make him look guilty. Despite being complete underdogs, he and his ragtag team continue to take two steps forward, one step back to keep his client from stepping into death row.
As stated, murder is never funny in the real world but in the world of sitcoms, Trial & Error does a pretty good job at poking fun at a murder trial. The show is clearly inspired by the likes of Arrested Development, The Office and Parks & Recreation which all fused irreverent and wacky comedy with a shaky cam set up. Furthermore, Trial & Error has a stellar ensemble cast which includes Nicholas D'Agostoo (Masters of Sex), John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun), Sherri Shephard (Less Than Perfect), Jayma Mays (Glee), Krysta Rodriguez (Younger) and Steven Boyer (Orange Is The New Black) who all portray their mostly fully formed characters extremely well from the first episode. While most sitcoms take a while for their actors to settle into their character's comedic boots and to gel with their ensemble, Trial & Error does so very well and very early into its run. The humour of the show is extremely silly and outrageous as it shoots a dozen jokes a minute which makes each episode go by in a whirlwind, but for a show which tries to find the funny in murder, this approach works well. Some viewers may be put off by the provocative plot and the silly jokes and I do not expect the show to garner huge ratings.
Trial & Error has all the components to be a low rated but critically acclaimed and cult followed sitcom which largely flies under the radar but stays consistently funny. Trial & Error is undoubtedly one of the best pilots and one of the most successfully ambitious sitcoms of the current season despite being one which is clearly influenced by and aspires to be like other cult comedy series.