The Warner Archive January 16, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 first season of the NBC comedy "Trial & Error" provides current fans a chance to catch up before the S2 premiere in a few months and gives folks who who have never seen it another bite at the apple. Bringing John Lithgow back to an NBC comedy and successfully combining two clever television concepts compete for being the most notable aspect of the series.
"Trial" additionally seems tailor-made for DVD in that the season-long story-arc complete with cliffhangers calls for the seamless marathon viewings that this format facilitates. Getting caught up in the plot and suddenly realizing that you have watched eight episodes is very easy. One can assert that this is the "OJ Syndrome."
The following YouTube clip of a "Trial" promo. tells you everything that you want to know about the series that you are not afraid to ask.
The element of "Trial" chronicling the efforts of the defense team in the high-profile murder case in which small-town poetry professor Larry Henderson is prosecuted for the death of second wife Margaret from crashing through a plate-glass window is an homage to the 2004 dramatic series "The Staircase" that documents a similar real-life case.
The mockumentary style of having the characters record video interviews throughout the series evokes strong thoughts of the NBC comedy "The Office," which introduces that concept to American audiences. However, setting "Trial" in the quirky small town of East Peck, South Carolina makes it more like "Office" follow-up series "Parks and Recreation" than the Steve Carell workplace comedy.
Considering "Northeastern" attorneys to be the chosen people prompts Larry brother-in-law/local tobacco tycoon Jeremiah Jefferson Davis to hire a New York law firm to represent Larry. That white shoes corporation sends young untested Josh Segal (who is "Northeastern" on the side of his father) to provide that counsel. Nicholas D'Agosto plays this legal professional fresh off playing District Attorney Harvey Dent on the Fox drama "Gotham."
A "Green Acres" element (complete with a New York attorney finding himself living among small-town rubes) is evident when Segal quickly discovers that his dream team consists of dim-witted investigator Dwayne Reed and essentially office manager Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd of an eponymous sitcom and several other series), whose many afflictions include a complete inability to recognize anyone no matter how often they meet or how many times that their paths cross.
This group finds themselves squaring off with ambitious prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays of "Glee"), whose primary goal is to execute someone in order to advance her career. Her secondary goal is to examine the briefs of Segal.
Much of the best humor comes relates to Segal and his team planning the defense. Like Oliver Douglas of "Acres," Segal largely accepts the lunacy in order to avoid going crazy himself. Memorable segments include childlike excitement each time that the murder board is updated and the support staff suggesting absurd theories.
Lithgow is surprisingly sedate; he mostly seems more like a befuddled senior than a quirky intellectual or a pompous ass. He still plays his role well, but more always is better regarding Lithgow-style zaniness.
Veteran showrunners Jeff Astrof and Matthew Miller additional obtain comic silver from the absurdity of changing the persons-of-interest in the primary case and associated crimes that follow just as frequently as a cannonball is shot off in the East Peck town square. These "unusual suspects" include virtually everyone other than the main cast and even a couple of members of that ensemble. Including a one-armed man in that rogue's galley is particularly awesome.
The inevitable "30 Rock" mini-reunion is a "Trial" highlight. Astrof and Miller choose wisely regarding whom they bring back. Seeing Lithgow interact with this guest shows that they still have it and should get co-star in another series. Learning if Team Henderson discovers a Tommy gun requires watching.
"S1" ends on a cliffhanger that also can serve as a series finale that is typical for a show that is on the bubble; Segal still gives a hoot about Lithgow after his trial concludes, and this legal eagle takes on another ripped-from-the-headlines case that likely seems open-and-shut and almost certainly involves a great deal of baggage.
Just as is the case in a legal proceeding, judging the quality of "Trial" requires considering every relevant circumstance. The underlying satirical elements of the series are solid; each cast member does a respectable job with his or her role; America always love a trial that involves numerous scandals, and this show is much better than most sitcoms on broadcast and cable channels.