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Series / Trial & Error

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Trial & Error is a single-camera Mockumentary anthology sitcom starring Nicholas D'Agosto, Jayma Mays, and Sherri Sheppard. Each season focuses on a sensational trial that occurs in the town of East Peck, South Carolina as the core cast of oddball legal experts try to win the case by whatever means necessary.

    Season 1 

East Peck, South Carolina. A backwater hamlet, and home of oddball, rollercising poetry professor Larry Henderson (John Lithgow)who finds himself the prime suspect in his wife's murder.

Enter New York attorney Josh Segal. What seems like a simple defense job is complicated by one thing: Larry is ridiculously bad at not casting suspicion on himself. Combined with his Good Ol' Boy assistant Dwayne and off-kilter receptionist Anne, Josh finds himself in an uphill battle to keep Larry off of death row.

    Season 2 

In Season 2, subtitled Lady, Killer, Segal and Asssociates are hired to defend Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristin Chenoweth), who is accused of murdering her husband. Lavinia is charming and well-liked around East Peck, but the defense team's job is made all the more harder because Lavinia's husbands body was found in the trunk of her car.

The series premiered on NBC on March 14, 2017. A second season was confirmed by NBC as of May 20, 2017.

This series provides examples of:

     Season 1: Trial and Error 

  • Amoral Attorney: Prosecutor Carol Anne, who is gunning for a district attorney job and is not above Courtroom Antics to get a conviction.
    • Subverted with Josh, who clearly cares deeply about Larry, and genuinely believes he's innocent.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Josh Segal's character is commonly thought to be Jewish, but this is never explicitly stated. Just that he's "Northeastern", that his father is "Northeastern", his mother is from Arizona but converted to "Northeastern...ism", and loves bagels so much that he has them regularly shipped to East Peck from his favorite New York deli. Josh's reaction to Carol Anne's joke about their potential pregnancy may imply that he is. Then again, she may be commenting on his actual love of bagels.
    Carol Anne: Don't worry. I don't have a bagel in the oven.
    Josh: That's kind of racist.
  • And the Adventure Continues: As Josh celebrates getting Larry freed, news come out about another murder, and he gets the call to take part on the case.
  • Arcadia: East Peck is a parody of the quiet rural town, with the residents swinging wildly between naive friendliness and open hostility depending on the situation. Also, the local banker is so trusting that when he has to leave early, he simply tosses the keys to Dwayne and Anne and asks them to lock up the bank for him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Bears Are Bad News: "Death by Bear" is still on the books in East Peck and the residents are eager to see one occur.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Josh and Carol Anne are clearly attracted to each other but they are also working the same case from opposite ends and are keen to see the other go down in flames.
  • Bi the Way:
    • Larry swings both ways.
    Larry: Sexuality is fluid, and sometimes my fluids go towards men.
    • Summer openly identifies as bisexual as well, and at the very least Carol Anne isn't above using her wiles to seduce Summer over to the prosecution's side, further adding that the dating pool in East Peck is extremely limited if you consider cousins off-limits. The show also explicitly uses the word 'bisexual', which is surprisingly uncommon.
  • Blind Mistake: Anne is unable to recognize faces, which leads to her making many of these. She's good a recognizing penises, though.
  • Body Horror: Carol Anne eventually develops a stress-induced rash that rapidly spreads from her legs to all over her body, with one eye eventually swelling shut.
    Josh: I literally just saw that rash jump onto your ear. Call a doctor!
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Dwayne, the not-too-bright former cop and Anne, the basket of odd neurological conditions, serve as this for Josh.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Larry's priorities often come across as skewed, often seeming to trivialize big things while blowing minor things out of proportion. Acting on these views often causes more problems. In addition, he often omits damning evidence he should have told Josh about, leaving Josh to find out at the worst possible time.
  • Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Josh is constantly at his wit's end trying to keep Larry from digging his hole deeper and deeper.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: When Larry's male lover Alphonse is brought in to testify, he describes a sexual act that produces about 20 seconds of bleeping. Which is then repeated 5 times to the horror of the court.
    Carol-Anne: Would you describe, in graphic detail, what happened on the weekend of February 11th when Mr. Henderson's wife was away on her Audubon Society getaway?
    Alphonse: As I recall, after our workout, we had a smoothie and then we hit the sauna and then *beeeeeeeeeep* to completion.
    Anne: I'm sorry, I missed that. After your smoothie, did you *beeeeeeeeeep* to completion? Or was it Larry that *beeeeeeeeeep* to completion?
    Alphonse: Oh, it was definitely Larry.
    Carol-Anne: So, to be clear, after the smoothie, it was Larry who *beeeeeeeeeep* to completion.
    Alphonse: Correct!
    Carol-Anne: Edna, could you just read back that last part for us, please?
    Edna: *Beeeeeeeeeep* to completion.
    Carol-Anne: No further questions
    Judge Horsedich: Court's gonna take ten minutes to...just...whoo!
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Exaggerated with Larry, whom even his lawyer's own assistants refer to him as murderer.
  • Couch Gag: The picture at the upper right hand of the title card changes with each episode.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: At the very start of the series, Dwayne suggests "Bird" as the cause of death. Turns out it was a bird, an owl, specifically, that accidentally killed Margaret.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The DNA tester compulsively masturbates when anxious. When he's called as a witness in the trial, his evidence is dismissed because he's contaminated every crime scene he's been in.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Jeremiah Davis said the country club didn't used to let "your kind" in. He points to a sign which says "No Lawyers".
  • The Deep South: East Peck is a little behind the times, and a lot bit off their rockers. Among other things:
    • The local dialect is completely undecipherable to outsiders.
    • The town still believes in witchcraft and has had actual witch hunts as recently as the 1990's.
    • Homosexuality is still illegal and the "Buggery Act of 1785" is still in effect, although rarely enforced.
    • "Death by Bear" is still on the books and the town's residents are eager to see one occur.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: A minor one, but Josh switches from slicking his hair to a softer side part in an attempt to seem friendlier when it comes time to stand before a jury.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Josh goes to confront Carol Anne about hair samples that had been mysteriously removed from his evidence book, leading to this gem:
    Josh: Why did you get rid of the hair?!?!
    Carol Anne: Some men prefer it like that.
    Josh: Not what I meant but...yes.
  • Hollywood Law: The legal proceedings are played for laughs rather than accuracy.
    • Most notably, both the prosecution and the media constantly refer to Larry as "the murderer" when legally they are only allowed to refer to him as "the suspect" or "the accused."
  • Inconvenient Itch: Carol Anne gets a nasty rash during the closing days of the trial, and scratches herself rather inelegantly during her closing statements.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not rollerskating it's rollercising.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Dyslexia is the least of Anne's many neurological disorders. It turns out Margaret was dyslexic as well, a fact discovered when Anne reads one of her notes correctly. This information leads to the unlocking of her phone, and the discovery of how she really died.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Carol Anne plays every possible card to maintain jury sympathy and she won't hesitate to make herself look like a foolish blubbering wreck if it means the jury sides with her over Josh.
  • Mockumentary: The show is staged as a documentary about Larry's trial and cameramen and soundmen are in full view during courtroom scenes.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Josh has trouble discerning the proper pronunciation of Judge Horsedich's name from how it's written. ("Heisendyke", for the record.)
  • Not Helping Your Case: Pretty much everything Larry does and says makes him look guilty.
  • Only Sane Man: Josh is the only person who realizes just how screwed up East Peck is since he's never lived there.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Carol Anne goes on the local news as an "anonymous source". Although she's kept in shadows and her voice is altered, there's no getting around her unique silhouette and speech patterns. Also, she can't help but make a self-serving plug while on air.
    Carol Anne: Carol Anne Keane for DA!
  • Polyamory: Larry and Margaret had an open marriage, agreeing that they could have affairs as long as they were open and honest about it.
  • Punny Name: Several characters have them.
    • Carol Anne Keane is a play on Carolyne Keene, the pen name for the authors of Nancy Drew.
    • Dwayne Reed is a pun on New York drug store chain Duane Reade.
    • The judge presiding the case is named (rather unfortunately) Horsedich.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:
    • Dwayne has a habit of misplacing his gun and pulling the trigger whenever he gets spooked.
    • East Peck fires a cannon at 5am and 5pm everyday to commemorate a Civil War battle that took place near the town (historical records are hazy on whether or not it took place in the morning or the evening). But instead of setting off a powder charge, the town fires actual cannonballs and they're East Peck's third leading cause of death.
  • Red Herring: Pretty much every person picked as a suspect. In the end, the real killer turns out to be an owl that flew through the open front door and hit Margaret, sending her through the glass door.
  • Running Gag: Carol Anne is quick to chuck her high heel shoes at anyone who upsets her.
    • Dwayne gets himself tasered a lot.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Larry is found guilty, and as he rises to make a statement, he decides to bolt out of the courtroom instead.
  • Serious Business: Comas are highly coveted in East Peck and are referred to as "the most noble" of injuries. In fact, the town once had a mayor who spent his entire term in office comatose.
  • Shout-Out: To The Night Of, with Carol Anne Keane's rapidly spreading rash appearing just in time for closing statements directly referencing John Stone's extensive eczema, right down to slathering her legs in lotion, wrapping them plastic wrap, and scratching her rash with a pencil.
  • Skewed Priorities: A Running Gag is that Larry gets more upset about trivial matters than the fact that he's accused of murdering his wife.
    • He puts the 911 call about his wife's death on hold to take a call from the cable company.
    • He becomes more concerned with getting his skate key back from court security than in getting through the trial deposition. Justified in that the key is an inscribed gift from his wife.
    • When he confronts a key suspect (the cable technician who was there when his wife died), it's not about killing his wife, but about not showing up on time to fix the cable.
    • When a witness claims that the person who pushed Margaret would have been the exact same height as Larry, Larry is relieved that he didn't mention his weight.
    • After being sentenced to life in prison, Larry seems more distressed about the fact that the prison is on an island.
  • String Theory: The "Murder Board" that Josh and his team prepare. Also used for the title sequence.
  • Taking the Heat: When his daughter Summer becomes a possible suspect, Larry decides to plead guilty to spare her. Unfortunately, it's too late in the trial for him to change his verdict.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Josh shares an office with the local taxidermist, who is quiet and unkempt in appearance. He becomes a suspect when he was spotted near the crime scene shortly after the murder, so Josh and Dwayne investigate his house. Turns out the taxidermist was retrieving a dead owl found in the premises, which turns out to be real cause of Margaret's demise.
  • True Crime: The series is a parody of the genre and its recent popularity.
  • Truth in Television: All of Anne's odd conditions are actual things.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Carol Anne loves to gloat, especially if it means getting to rub her superior position in Josh's face

     Season 2: Lady, Killer 

  • Artistic License Law: Lavinia poses for a photo with the jury. In real life, it is extremely serious business if anyone involved in the case directly interacts with jurors out of concern for jury tampering.
  • Blue Blood: Lavinia Peck-Foster is considered to be East Peck royalty (she's descended from the Pecks as in East Peck) and the town is so deferential to her that even the trial judge stands when she says: "All rise."
  • New Season, New Name: Season 2 is being called "Trial & Error: Lady, Killer".