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In its first season, the NBC sitcom criminally (pun intended) skated under the radar despite featuring John Lithgow as an earnest accused murderer in a sharp parody of the “The Staircase” true crime documentary. Hopefully, its very solid second season – featuring Kristin Chenoweth as an eccentric heiress in a sharp parody of “The Jinx” – will get more people to realize what they were missing.
East Peck, South Carolina, the fictional town at the heart of “Trial & Error,” feels like a bizarro world Pawnee, Indiana with a heavy drawl. Its citizens are fiercely loyal to the strange idiosyncrasies of their beloved town, and woe betide the stranger who tries to suggest they might know better. “Trial & Error” initially highlighted East Peck’s oddities by bringing in Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto), an optimistic rookie lawyer sent from New York to cover a murder case whose “Northeastern” roots earned him widespread skepticism. His wide-eyed bewilderment at his surroundings could have easily turned into one-sided mockery of Southern quirks, but not only did D’Agosto make Josh a genuinely kindhearted straight man, but the show made the “Peckers” he encountered wonderfully strange in their own ways. In season 2, “Trial & Error” has Josh fully embrace the challenge of becoming a **** himself, and in turn, doubles down on the town’s quirks to prove the power of its singularly absurd voice.
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Take the “Lady Laws,” a newly revealed archaic set of East Peck bylaws that, among other things, requires women drivers to make their way through traffic with the help of a man warning everyone else that there’s a “LADY DRIVER!” on the road. Or take Anne (Sherri Shepherd), the pluckiest and unluckiest citizen of East Peck, South Carolina. As she tells the camera with a pleasantly blasé expression...
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