Comic turns in the court­room

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Trial & Er­ror,

In the de­cep­tively bu­colic South Carolina town of East Peck, ec­cen­tric po­etry pro­fes­sor Larry Hen­der­son (John Lith­gow, fresh off his Golden Globe win as Win­ston Churchill in The Crown) has been ac­cused of mur­der­ing his wife by throw­ing her through a plate-glass win­dow.

Brought in to pre­pare his de­fence is young New York at­tor­ney Josh Se­gal (Ni­cholas D’Agosto, He­roes). He’s given an of­fice in the back of a taxi­dermy shop — “just past the al­bino muskrat” — and a sup­port team that in­cludes sickly re­cep­tion­ist Anne Flatch (Sherri Shep­herd, a long-time co-host of The View) and not-too­bright lo­cal Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer).

This all sounds rather se­ri­ous but in fact Trial & Er­ror is a com­edy, and an out­spo­kenly funny one at that. A mock­u­men­tary spoof of re­al­ity tele­vi­sion with a touch of the fish-out-of-wa­ter dy­namic that made North­ern Ex­po­sure such an en­dur­ingly pop­u­lar show in the early 1990s, the Trial & Er­ror 13-episode run was cre­ated and is ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by the vet­eran team of Jeff Astrof (the great It’s Like, You Know) and Matt Miller (the equally great Chuck).

They’ve in­fused the pro­ceed­ings with the same en­er­getic spirit, at once an­ar­chic and un­err­ingly dead­pan: when out­spo­ken and un­for­tu­nately named trial judge Horsedich (Pa­tri­cia Belcher) hears some­thing she doesn’t like she tells Josh, “I’m im­par­tial, but, damn, man”, while pros­e­cu­tor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays, Glee) can’t de­cide be­tween press­ing for a con­vic­tion and bed­ding her le­gal op­po­nent. There are two chap­ters an episode of this fast­paced farce, and if the first pair are any in­di­ca­tion, this will be the fun­ni­est credit on Lith­gow’s CV since 3rd Rock from the Sun ce­mented his sta­tus as a com­edy main­stay. Sun­day, 10pm, Seven

John Lith­gow plays a po­etry pro­fes­sor ac­cused of killing his wife in

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