New on NBC: Trial & Error

Featuring John Lithgow as poetry professor and accused murderer Larry Henderson, NBC offers up a silly true crime mockumentary in the new series Trial & Error. Serving as his defense attorney in the courtroom/workplace comedy is straight man with the funny lines, Nicholas D’Agosto (Masters of Sex, Gotham).

The series takes aim at trial by media, celebrity obsession, small town life and southern absurdities. And it’s the last one that stuck in my craw. Why trot out the trope of The Southern Stereotype: a bow tie-wearing guy named Jeremiah Jefferson Davis, toting guns in the courthouse, general stupidity, cousin-dating, gay-hating, death by bear, invoking 1789 buggery laws? Laziness.

For viewers of The Office and Parks and Recreation, Trial & Error will feel familiar but flat. While there are some genuinely funny moments (mostly from Lithgow), Trial & Error is working that funny bone awfully hard for the laugh. Here’s hoping they work through the weaker comedy and hit their stride sometime before the end of their 13-episode run.

Really, really short review: Less funny that it should be.

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