Trial and Error Episode Review: Series Premiere

Trial and Error Review: Neither a Trial to Watch nor an Error to Schedule

I was interested to see how the NBC replacement show, Trial and Error, would play out, once it finally aired. I had high expectations for the show, owing that to the caliber of the cast, more than the premise of the show. To put it in a nutshell, I was not disappointed.

Actually, the good people of NBC gave us, not only the show’s pilot, but the following episode, so that we would be an hour into the series (which seems to be slated for 13 episodes), right off the bat. Further shows will still air on Tuesdays, at an earlier time and at only 30 minutes a pop.

For all of my expectations, I was a little anxious when the show started because it seemed to invoke a number of trial-related clichés. Was this to be a shabby tribute to My Cousin Vinny? It certainly seemed that way. A murder suspect (John Lithgow at his zaniest) in a backward Southern town, being defended by a seemingly clueless New York lawyer. Hmmm… Well, it turns out that these two episodes are a world apart from that excellent film, even if we are rooting for Lithgow’s character (local poet Larry Henderson) to achieve the same happy end as the “two youts.”

Jayma Mays as the ambitious, tight-sphinctered prosecutor seems to be another cliché, but turns out to be anything but. Helpful hint: whatever you thought of Glee’s Emma Pillsbury, this rendition of Ms. Mays in almost exactly 180 degrees apart, even if both characters are somewhat deranged.

Sherri Shepherd and the people who wrote her part deserve special recognition for the top-notch comedy in these episodes. In a landscape where all black women must be portrayed as bright and empowered (whether for good or evil), Ms. Shepherd bravely takes on the role of the ditz and owns it absolutely. Her character has other issues that, as you would imagine, make life yet even more difficult for the aforementioned New York attorney Josh Simon, played admirably and necessarily low-key by Nicholas D’Agosto. He has to be low-key, because almost everyone around him is bat-guano crazy. That said. D’Agosto does have his comedic moments, such as the first time he addresses the judge. Her last name may be subject to different pronunciations and the hapless defense attorney chooses the most completely embarrassing one, thereby getting his case off to a particularly unfortunate start.

Other characters of note are Simon’s somewhat dim assistant Dwayne (Steven Boyer) and the suspect’s daughter from a previous marriage, Summer Henderson (Krysta Rodriguez). Both turn in very entertaining performances. There is a possibility that Summer may turn out to be a romantic interest for Josh, but we are a very long way from that destination, as is the case with any worthwhile romance in any medium of entertainment.

Let me say one other favorable thing about the writing for this show. The setting is small-town South Carolina—a locale that could open itself up to a lot of hateful politically-motivated jokes. The writers somehow manage to portray the place as backward without hating. Any people that adroit (and witty) deserve a great deal more of our attention.

If you missed these first two shows, find a way to catch up. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.


Trial and Error, NBC, March 14, 2017

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Thomas Cleveland Lane

Thomas Cleveland Lane is a semi-retired freelance writer for pay and a stage actor for nothing more than the opportunity to make a fool of himself. Well, he does get a small stipend from the Washington Area Decency League, after playing the role of Hinezie in The Pajama Game, to never, ever appear on stage in his underpants again. When he has not managed to buffalo some director into casting him, Thomas can often be found at his favorite piano bar, annoying the patrons with his caterwauling. Thomas is the author of an anthology called Shaggy Dogs, a Collection of Not-So-Short Stories (destined to become a cult classic, shortly after he croaks). He is also the alter-ego to a very unbalanced Czech poet named Glub Dzmc. Mr. Lane generally resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and was last seen in the mirror, three days ago.


  1. Pam

    March 15, 2017 at 11:17 am

    It seems that TV networks are flooding good family TV shows with the gay, lesbian, and fluid characters. Can’t we get a better choice of shows without having to see that? Where are the good God fearing TV shows that are better for our kids and families to watch? Very disappointed in Trial and Error, will never watch it or suggest anyone to watch it.

    • Nate

      March 15, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Right, because that’s worse than murder… the premise of the show. I’ll watch a show that revolves around a murder plot, but if the main character is gay then cancel that garbage. lol.

      • max_beta

        March 16, 2017 at 5:38 am

        Go watch a wholesome family show like 7th Heaven then. I’m sure the dad on that show will be a good role model for your kids.

  2. Price Of Without Insurance

    March 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm

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  3. Susan Sullivan

    March 29, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Everybody get over yourself this is the year 2017. This show is very funny gay or straight its funny and Sherri Sheppard who would have know she could play a character so delightful. Maybe it takes some one with a certain sense of humor to watch this but it is funny