NBC’s newest sitcom has a coveted spot on primetime TV with its Tuesday night time slot. I was unaware of John Lithgow’s latest venture and just happened to be too lazy to turn the channel after watching the Blind Auditions on The Voice. Little did I know, this mockumentary comedy series is one of the few I’ve ever enjoyed enough to record new episodes on the TiVO.

The people behind Trial & Error have worked on comedy favorites such as The Office and Chuck, so rest assured the writing is in good hands. In the era of true crime addiction, from documentaries like The Jinx and Making a Murderer to podcasts such as Serial, this new series has no lack of inspiration when it comes to material that’s ripe for parody. Here’s why you should be watching.

5. It Helps Fill the Void Left by Parks and Recreation

First Steve Carell stepped away from The Office, leaving behind a string of episodes that lacked the blissful cluelessness of Michael Scott. Then Parks and Recreation left a massive hole in our hearts by wrapping up and bidding farewell. Fortunately, the blend of star power and little known talent, plus a healthy dose of dry humor and a dash of meta self awareness combine to make Trial & Error a recipe to fill the void Leslie Knope left behind.

Although it’s unfair to compare the two series in regards to quality, the similarities are small town hijinks and and quirky characters. You’ll still miss Parks and Rec, but this show will make it hurt just a little bit less.

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4. You Can Never Have Enough John Lithgow

John Lithgow is at his best since, well, since the last time he played a serial killer on television. The actor has some experience when it comes to murderous tendencies since he faced off with Dexter on the lauded Showtime series, and fans largely consider Lithgow’s performance to be why season 4 of that show is considered the best. 

Recently riding the high of awards season recognition for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the Netflix series The Crown, Lithgow gets the opportunity in Trial & Error to let loose and have fun with a character. The tone and demeanor of his character in this show aligns most closely with his celebrated role in 3rd Rock from the Sun, and who would ever turn down some more Dick Solomon?

3. It Confronts Real-World Issues

Small town southern stereotypes, residual north and south tensions, and unreliable media coverage are just a few hot button issues Trial & Error takes on in the first few episodes. In the pilot episode of the series, main character Josh Degal travels as a novice attorney from New York City down to the small fictional town in South Carolina to represent suspected killer Larry Henderson. The victim’s family had requested a more senior member of the firm, but decide to keep him because he fits the stereotype of being “one of them.” 

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It takes Degal half of the episode to figure out whether he’s being typecast as a northerner or a Jewish person, but both digs set the tone for the type of controversial one-liners that are in store for this series. Sit back, relax, and try not to be offended too easily.

2. The Show Is an Actual Whodunnit

Although the odds are stacked against Larry Henderson and the uphill battle his lawyer and team of investigators have ahead of them to clear his name, it remains uncertain whether or not Henderson actually killed his wife. If nothing else, the desire to find out who the killer is should hold the interest of any viewer. The uncertainty of guilt is always what makes a case so intriguing, and Trial & Error succeeds in keeping you guessing every step of the way. Plus, the adorably awkward chemistry between Larry’s lawyer and the town’s prosecuting attorney, Glee favorite Jayma Mays, is a hilarious mystery in itself. Will they or won’t they?

1. We Get a New Case Every Season

The show’s creators announced during the promotion for the pilot that similar to popular crime shows like True Detective and American Crime Story, Trial & Error will feature a new murder case each season. It’s unclear so far whether John Lithgow will make any other appearances, but the setting, and therefore the rest of the core cast, will be returning each time. One of the biggest upsides to this news is that we can guarantee the resolution of each case by the end of the season, so there will be no drawn-out storylines or exhausting plots. Hopefully, if successful enough, the show will draw subsequent heavy-hitters as the object of scrutiny and comedic relief in seasons to come. 

Have you watched Trial & Error yet? What do you think of the characters? Is this show as funny as Parks and Rec or The Office? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

Trial & Error airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on NBC. For more TV news and articles like this one, like BuddyTV’s Facebook page!


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV