Trial & Error is back with 2 new episodes tonight at 9p on NBC and they have an arm up on the competition. You will find out what that means in the first episode where you will also see Anne (Sherri Shepherd) and Summer (Krysta Rodriguez) do a mock trial and question Larry Henderson (John Lithgow) on the stand. How does it go? He decides not to testify and you can totally understand why. On the second episode, some new shocking evidence is unveiled that leads to Henderson taking a lie detector test on live televison. Will he pass? All I will say is don’t pass on the hilarious comedy to find out.
Want to know more about your newest obsession? A few weeks ago at the NBC TCA Summer Press Day Executive Producer Jeff Astrof and John Lithgow revealed some interesting tidbits about the Mockumentary.
How did Trial & Error come about?
Astrof: So the genesis of this was around five years ago in the writers’ rooms across Warner Bros, and probably across the sitcom world, a documentary called The Staircase was going around. And I remember I watched it with my wife, and at the time I wish I had said John Lithgow for this story to work. I said, “If this guy was played by Steve Carell, this would be the funniest comedy I’ve ever seen.” And my wife gave me as much encouragement as any time she ever has, and she said, “Yeah, maybe.”
And so I went and I ran and I pitched it to Warner Bros, and I said, “I want to do a show about a guy who is accused of murdering his wife. It’s a documentary.” They said, “You have to do a comedy.” I said, “It’s going to be a comedy. And they said, “How about a multicamera about your family?” And I went back to the well, five times, and then, finally, they said, “You can do it if you hook up with a drama/comedy writer.” And they introduced me to Mr. Matthew Miller over here, and the two of us, it was a match made in Hebrew school.
It was fantastic, and the timing was really great because right at the time everybody was watching The Jinx and Serial and we had handed in our script. And that’s when Making a Murderer came out, and we were just, like, if we don’t do this now, someone else is going to do it. Then once we got this cast, I just have to say writing is only good casting, and I’ve never worked with a cast like this. They are unbelievable, top to bottom.
Was Trial & Error the original title for the show? Astrof told me on Twitter, “The original title was The Trail.” Then he followed up with, “It was based on Anne writing The Trail on the board. People thought it was confusing.” Then they came up with Trial & Error. That name stuck on the murder board and they also love the name we know it as today.
How does Trial & Error get that documentary look and feel?
Astrof: I should mention Jeff Blitz, who is an unbelievable documentary [director]. We hired a documentary director for this. So everything in the show seems like it’s an actual documentary, which is why we have no coverage. But it’s really filmed, you know, beautifully in that way. As long as people keep interested in the genre and these characters and we’ve created a whole world in East Peck, we hope this continues at least seven years.
On that note, what are the plans for season 2?
Astrof: If there’s a second season. That’s up to you guys to a large extent and NBC, but the plan is that, at the end of this season, we start with the arrest of Larry Henderson, and the final episode we do the verdict and a “Where are they now?”
When it comes to the verdict, the only cast member who knew who the murder was was Lithgow.
Litgow: This is the second time this has happened to me. When they hired me for The Trinity Killer, they pitched it by telling me the whole story of that entire season. I was the only actor who knew, and I had to keep it to myself.
I want this in my contract for now on. I always want to know things that nobody else knows.
Talking about things Lithgow knows, did he know how to roller skate before Trial & Error?
Lithgow: I did try, and then I was, oh, Gd, it was so pathetic. I used to be able to roller skate. I don’t know what happened. And I was determined to spend, you know, three rigorous weeks becoming quite extraordinary on roller skates, and then I was told not to because well, I think first they saw my first attempts. But also, the insurance company covering the show would not allow me to be on roller skates.
While insurance wasn’t willing to take a risk on Lithgow wearing roller skates, I think everyone needs to take a risk on Trial & Error.
Last week, we fell in love with Trial & Error and tonight it is back with 2 all new episodes on NBC at 9p. Did you miss out on this mockumentary about a man who is accused of killing his wife in the small town of East Peck, then you missed the best new comedy of the season. The residents of the small Southern Town and one Yankee attorney are all involved in ever aspect of his trial and the multiple errors that go along with proving Larry Henderson innocence. Get why it is called Trial & Error now?
What makes this witty comedy so smart, besides the writing, is the cast of charterers that live in this small quiet town that just got noisier. Recently at the NBC’s TCA Winter Press Day, the actors from the show talked about the important roles they play to
First there is Larry Henderson, who is accused of killing his wife. Even though you want him to be innocent, every few minutes we get new evidence that makes it seem like he is guilty. Here’s how John Lithgow described Henderson.
My character, I loved the challenge of playing a part who, at any given moment, is completely could completely plausibly have committed or not committed this crime. This seemed to me a wonderful kind of magic trick to pull off, and I love challenges like that. They created a character for which this trick can work. He’s completely driven by his ID. It’s completely unedited. He has no sense of priority or proportion. The tiniest things have absolutely as much importance to him as the crime of murder, and you see it in the very first moment of the series in that 911 call. The cable guy and the death of his wife are equally are equal emergencies. This is the stuff of just fantastic comedy, very much like Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun. He was driven by his ID too, and yet they are very, very different characters.
Next up is Anne Flatch, she helps to run the temporary office where Northerner Josh Segal (Nick D’Agosto) has set up shop to prove Henderson’s innocence. She has multiple disorders. Just when you think they have run out of things to give her, they come up with another one. Sherri Shepherd talked about all the ailments they gave her.
She’s lovable, but she has all of these disorders. She has prosopagnosia, which is facial blindness. She’s born with no tear ducts. She’s dyslexic. She has alien hand syndrome. She sleeps, and she talks when she’s sleeping, and she walks backwards. She talks like Adele when she has a flu shot. I mean, she has Scindo syndrome. She faints when she sees beautiful artwork.
And there are even more than just that.
With all of those disorders, she needs some help in the office/taxidermy shop. She gets that from Dwayne Reed. He is former cop in East Peck, who could not handle the job. He is a bumbling idiot, but sometimes he gets things right. Granted to be accused of another murder puts a wrench in things. Steven Boyer gave some insight into his Dwayne Reed.
Well, I think that we’ve all known the person who is sort of misunderstood, who might be a little smarter than he appears at first. I mean, I like to think that Dwayne is the brains behind the operation in spite of all of his foibles. But, yeah, I knew guys like that growing up. I mean, it’s hard not to. I kind of lived in between the city and the corn fields, and so, you know, you drive five minutes outside the suburbs, and it’s all farm in Ohio. So I knew Dwaynes growing up, guys who had never left their small plot of land. And, yeah, I think Dwayne has a brilliance that people have yet to really notice. So maybe this case will bring it out of him.
While he might not the brightest, opposing counsel Carol Anne Keane is very smart and determined to prove Henderson guilty. Jayma Mays talked about playing a character much different than the one she played on Glee.
I’m tough as nails and sexually aggressive, pushing for the death penalty. No. Yeah, she’s really good at her job, and her main goal in this, she wants to be DA of this small Southern town in East Peck, and she’s going to do whatever she can to get Larry Henderson to fry by the end of this show. Yeah, I think she’s competent and refined.
Finally, there is Summer, who is Larry’s daughter. Maybe because she is adopted, she doesn’t really seem like someone who is from East Peck. How does Krysta Rodriguez see her character that is a real smash.
Summer is lovely. She’s so fiercely devoted to her dad. And I love that I got to have such a clear objective. He is, in my mind, completely innocent. There could not be a world in which he did this. And to be able to crusade for somebody, especially somebody as lovable as John and his character, Larry, to just kind of feel like I get to be his advocate and fight for him and our family. In this script, he adopted me when I was young and I think that bond carries somebody for a long time when you feel maybe not wanted and you become wanted by somebody. And we take on the world. Now it’s just he and I and the dog. And it’s been a great experience to get to kind of really fight for somebody, really believe in somebody. And then the things take crazy turns and being sort of tossed to and fro in the middle of this, this something that you would never imagine would happen in your life, and now you’re having to navigate it, and absurdity becomes your normal life and what that means for them in the family and for her being in this town. She’s a transplant in the town as well and the town is such a backwards place in some ways. And so it’s been it’s fun. It’s fun navigating all that.
When it comes to comedies, I normally prefer old school family sitcoms. Then every now and again, a different type of comedy comes along and surprises me. Trial & Error is that comedy and you are going to want to watch the hilarious, well-done 1-hour debut tonight at 10p on NBC.
Trial & Error is a mockumentary about a man, who is accused of killing his wife, and the trial to prove his innocence or guilt in a small Southern town. Doesn’t sound like it would be something you would laugh at, but you do multiple times a minute? It is just so witty; you have to pay attention to get all of the jokes. It is not that the jokes that are hard to get, it just that there are so many of them. In addition to that, the cast is so spot on the way they deliver the writers’ brilliant words.
Larry Henderson’s (John Lithgow) wife has been murdered and he is the #1 suspect. His wife’s brother thinks he is innocent, so he hires a Yankee lawyer to represent his brother in law. Henderson is so lovable because he has a childlike innocence. You think there is no way he could have done it, but the evidence keeps stacking up against him.
Josh Simon (Nick D’Agosto) works for a big North East law firm and he is used to things being done a certain way. Down in the South, he is stuck working in a taxidermy store with two people who don’t know what they are doing. Dwayne (Steven Boyer) tried to be a cop but it didn’t work out. He is a blithering loveable idiot, but every now and again he gets something write. Anne (Sherri Shepherd) is their assistant and she suffers from more disorders than there are in the medial books. They really aren’t much help to him and he really needs it because Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays) will do anything to convict Henderson. She knows being a woman in the South makes it tough for her to get ahead, so she plays harder than any man. And boy does she need a man.
Each week Henderson’s case goes through a lot of twists and turns, just when you think you figured it out, something happens that completely throws you. It is just so much fun to watch this show unravel. I am six episodes in and I can’t wait to find out if Henderson did it or not. Everything points to the fact that he did, but like OJ you just don’t want that to be the case. Well at first, you didn’t want that to be the case for OJ.
I am not detailing too much about the episodes because I want you to enjoy the show as much as I am. There is an innocence to this show that just makes it so delightful to watch. Plus, every episode makes me laugh and laugh until it hurts. I sincerely, can’t sing the praises of Trial & Error enough. This is a comedy we have been waiting for, we just didn’t know it until now.
Shades of Blue is back for a second season on NBC Sundays at 10p and the show is even more intense this year. Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta recently talked about what’s coming up on the good cop, very bad cop drama at NBC’s TCA Winter Press Day and you are not going to want to muss a single second this season.
What is coming up for Jennifer Lopez’s character Harlee this season?
Lopez: I mean, the mess just becomes even bigger. And the moral lines and ethical lines are pushed even further, and the struggle becomes even more intense for her because of her daughter, because of who she is as a person and her beliefs. I think what people respond to in Harlee’s character is that, at the end of the day, she’s not, she may have been a cop who, you know, they went around the neighborhood and they collected money and stuff, but they weren’t, in their minds, bad cops. They were really holding the line to what it takes and pushing those areas of black and white and getting in the gray areas there of what it takes to maintain justice and to keep neighborhoods safe. But she was pushed into a further conundrum of what her moral and ethical lines were, and this year, I feel like it goes even further into what she believes is right and wrong. And why people like her is because I think my job is to always keep her truthful but, beyond that, that they feel like she’s still even though you are seeing her do the most outrageous, heinous things, that you still believe that she’s a good person. If I can do that, if I can show you that heart, if I can show you that humanity, then I’m doing my job as far as Harlee is concerned. And I think that we were able to do that this season even with all of the things that this one came up with for me to do that were awful, and for him, too.
Is this season more challenging?
Lopez: It was a challenging season. You know, I thought the first season was so challenging because it was just emotionally taxing. I think our characters mostly take the brunt of that in this series, but for this one, I knew when I read the first page of the first scene of this season. I was, like, “Okay. That’s what we are doing. We are going there. Okay. We are burying the body. Okay. Here we go. Wrap him up in a curtain, and then knock his teeth out. Got it. I’m there.” So I knew that, emotionally, it wasn’t going to get any easier for her. I knew that it was going to be more of I call this like a storm is coming this season. …There’s this some story about Hurricane Sandy, and it really does feel like they get caught in a hurricane that they can’t get out of this season until there’s so much so many casualties and things that happen that she just it’s like sliding down a slippery slope, and she cannot get traction the whole time. She’s just looking to the side of her and hoping that it stops. And, like, she’s going to hit the bottom, and it just doesn’t stop.
What is happening between Harlee and Nava (Gino Anthony Pesi)?
Lopez: I think Nava represents for Harlee, like, that life that she could have if she could get out of the mess that she’s in and that she’s kind of created for herself. He’s like the dream. Do you know what I mean? And he keeps coming back to help her. Instead of him kind of rescuing her, she somehow sucks him into her world unintentionally. He just gets caught up in the mess of what happens this season in a really bad way. And I think Harlee is just, you know, again, one of these characters that is so complicated in that she’s so pulled to Woz and she’s so pulled to the loyalty and the code of what they have and what they must do and, at the same time, struggling with her own moral compass as a mother and as a good person and wanting to be a good person after what she’s done, I think, at the beginning of this season, after having killed Miguel at the end of last season, which she felt that she had no choice, that she would never be free of him — to then, at the beginning of this season, say to her daughter, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I promise I’m going to make better choices,” and then to be sucked back in, again, because of the complexities of the relationship she has with Woz and the crew and her loyalty to them.
What about Woz’s (Liotta) love life?
Liotta: No. I think Woz is “tri-sexual.” He’ll try anything.
Yeah. They stayed away from that aspect this season, but the relationship that I have with Anna Gunn is not your everyday, you know, go on a date and with a movie. I mean, we have a scene where it turns into very rough S&M y kind of sex. So this is probably something that Jack is trying to exorcise from himself.
Finally, what about Harlee’s relationship with her daughter Cristina (Sarah Jeffery)?
Lopez: Actually my scenes with Cristina are probably some of the easiest for me to do, and it’s because I am a mom and I do feel such an affinity and an affection toward her and I know our relationship is so clear. The way I feel about her is so untainted. It is what it is. It’s unconditional. It’s fierce. It’s deep. It’s what you have for a child. Everything we play together has that. She’s really the biggest joy in her life and the only joy in her life at the time, really, besides kind of getting to know Nava and following in love with him over this season and getting a little more serious with him. That’s her whole world. So for me, it makes it easy.
NBC announced today that it picked up its hit sitcom Superstore for a third season, and that will be interesting. You see, recently during the NBC TCA Winter Press Day, I got a tour of their cooler than cool set that actually looks like a real store, and they told us that they are changing sound stages because Universal is expanding their theme park over the land where they are now. That means they are going to have to move their whole set that like I said is built like a real store the size of a smaller Rite-Aid or CVS and stocked to the Cloud 9.
How are they going to do that? When I asked the Executive Producer if they were going to do something like Chuck did and blow up the store, all he would tell is to tune in for the season finale which had not been written yet. They had ideas what was going to happen, but nothing was concrete at the time. Now that show is definitely coming back for another 22 episode season, I can’t wait to see how they get themselves out of this mess! I am hoping for complete destruction, but then again I love disaster movies. How do you want them to destroy the store? If they decide to go that route.
Superstore joins This Is Us and The Good Place on NBC’s lineup coming up in the Fall. It is nice to see that NBC got its comedy groove back. Wait until you see Trial & Error next month, it’s the smartest comedy I have seen in a really long time.