Saturday, April 15, 2017

'Trial & Error' gets everything wrong in its pilot.

Almost certainly the worst thing about a sitcom pilot is that it doesn't make you laugh. It's hard to imagine anything more annoying than watching an episode of a comedy series that doesn't have anything funny in it.

A bad sitcom pilot doesn't work because it doesn't have a plausible or a believable premise. A bad pilot episode doesn't hold our attention and lacks interesting or relatable characters that could entertain and that could make us laugh.

Below I'll try to list most of the reasons why NBC's latest comedy series, 'Trial & Error', doesn't work at all. I'll try to point out why the series is so unwatchable and why you probably shouldn't give the show a chance.

1) It's very difficult to make homicide look funny.

Who came up with the idea that a premise where a lawyer defends a murder suspect could be a source of laughs? Who thought that this concept could possibly lead to a show that people could find entertaining and worth watching?

Historically speaking, it's true that there have been quality comedies that have been about lawyers, like Ally Mcbeal and Night Court. There have also been comedy shows that have been about murder cases, like the legendary Police Squad.  

At the same time, this sitcom is pretty much all about the murder and things that revolve around it. I don't see that anyone - regardless of who the writer is - could make the show even remotely plausible, interesting or enjoyable.

2) The 'star' of the show is unlikable and unrelatable.

In the very first scene of the pilot, our murder suspect calls 911. In this 'funny' phone call, the suspect is actually more interested in talking about his cable company than talking about how he found his wife dead on the floor.

Not long after that, when the press arrives and the murder suspect gets arrested, he 'accidentally' kills his dog for the 'laughs'. I found this to be an extremely offensive scene and have no idea what the writers were thinking.

Othan than that, this character, played by the usually wonderful John Lithgow, is incredibly unbearable. I don't see how anyone could be rooting for him or how anyone could care about what was going to happen to the guy.

3) Most of the characters are super incompetent.

How does our defense lawyer. played by Nicholas D'agosto, get things done when you take into account how incompetent his supporting team is? I got triggered by how stupid and utterly inept the rest of the cast is.

I mean, it's not like our main protagonist is the sharpest knife in the drawer, but the rest are beyond hopeless. The secretary can't even write and her 'dyslexia' is played for the stupidest laughs that you could imagine.

In contrast, when it came to characters on a supposedly 'dumb' show like Police Squad, even Frank Drebin was a relatively smart guy. His sillyness was always unintentional and was based on clever dead-pan humor that made you laugh.

4) The pilot has no momentum and the jokes are awful.

It's hard to believe how stupid the pilot was and how it didn't seem to have any direction whatsoever. This was apparent especially when the defense team kept brainstorming about who the real killer could have been.

As you might have guessed, they weren't concerned about the fate of their client and were doing other things instead. Playing hangman on a chalkboard was supposed to be funny and was supposed to make us in the audience laugh.

If that wasn't bad enough, making jokes about how the real culprit was a mexican (food) or a chinese (food) was even more pathetic. It was obvious that the writers of the series had no clue what they were doing.

5) The mockumentary approach is super tired.

Like many others, I've never been a big fan of the 'talking heads' style mockumentary approach to sitcoms. In most cases, it's a fairly cheap stunt to get away with exposition and to make you look hip and cool as a writer.

In reality, any time that you use these talking head 'interviews', you're pulling your audience out of the the story. This mockumentary style disrupts the flow of the episode and makes you uninterested in what's going on.

To make it even worse, this series also uses random 'break the fourth wall' scenes. There's almost nothing that spells desperation more than those moments where the characters look into the camera for no reason at all.

6) The series just doesn't have anything to offer to us.

In the end, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I couldn't stomach watching 'Trial & Error' for more than one episode. I gave up on it, because the sitcom had nothing to offer and because it made me so frustrated and angry.

At least in my opinion, a 'comedy' series about a lawyer defending a murder suspect can't really work. It can't work because the concept goes too much against the fundamentals of comedy and what we can find funny as human beings.

In that sense, I can't recommend 'Trial & Error' for anyone that enjoys watching quality tv. I can't recommend it, because the pilot gets everything wrong and because the series doesn't have any idea what it's supposed to be about.

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