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Funny Trial & Error debuts; This Is Us finale airs

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NBC's comedy Trial & Error, featuring the incomparable five-time Emmy winner John Lithgow, premieres at 9 p.m. today, with a second episode following at 9:30.

In subsequent weeks, the network has double episodes planned each Tuesday from 8 to 9 p.m. until April 25.

Trial & Error has the later starting time today to take advantage of viewers hanging around after the season finale of the hit drama This Is Us (see below). The earlier starting time next week will be following The Voice.

NBC will repeat the same hourlong comedy block formula when the sitcom Great News debuts at 8 p.m. April 25 following the run of Trial & Error. More about that show as time nears.

But first, let's look at Trial & Error.

NBC is presenting the series as a spoof on true-crime documentaries and labeling it an "outrageous fish-out-of-water comedy."

This is one of those shows where the characters talk to an unseen camera crew.

At the center of the sitcom is fresh-faced junior defense attorney Josh Segal (Nicholas D'Agosto, Final Destination 5), who is dispatched by his fancy New York firm to the small town of East Peck, S.C., for his first big case.

Segal's assignment is to defend Larry Henderson, an eccentric poetry professor (Lithgow) who is accused of the bizarre murder of his wife, Margaret, who was killed by going through a plate glass window.

Segal sets up shop in a makeshift office next door to a taxidermy shop. His team consists of a ragtag gaggle of wacky local misfits. Segal's job isn't made any easier because Henderson is making himself look seriously guilty by saying and doing things to undermine his case.

Jayma Mays (Glee) plays prosecutor Carol Anne Keane. She's running for district attorney, so she needs a death penalty conviction for the publicity.

Steven Boyer (Broadway's Hand to God) is Segal's loopy investigator Dwayne Reed; Krysta Rodriguez (Smash) plays Henderson's daughter, Summer; and Sherri Shepherd (The View) steals every scene she's in as legal assistant Anne Flatch.

While the ensemble works well together, it's Lithgow who makes the series. The 71-year-old actor won a Tony in 1973 for The Changing Room, but I remember him first from his best supporting actor Oscar nominations for The World According to Garp (1982) and Terms of Endearment (1983).

Most TV viewers know Lithgow from the NBC comedy 3rd Rock From the Sun (1996-2001). He won three Emmys for his role as the alien expedition leader, High Commander Dick Solomon.

It was during his 3rd Rock run that I got to chat with Lithgow on a press tour and ask the crucial question, "Is it Lith-gow (rhymes with cow) or Lith-go?" He laughed at first and said it didn't matter, but when pressed answered definitively, "Lith-go."

There you have it, straight from Dr. Emilio Lizardo, exiled leader of the Red Lectroids from Planet 10 of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

NBC (with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek) boasts that Trial & Error is "America's next great crime series." If not that, then maybe it's the next highly amusing comedy that's worth checking out.

The series is rated TV-PG for adult dialogue and language.

This Is Us. As mentioned above, the first season of the surprising hit comedy/drama comes to an end at 8 p.m. today on NBC. If you are counting, that's 18 episodes.

The series stars Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore as Jack and Rebecca Pearson, and Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley as their present-day children, Randall, Kate and Kevin.

Starring in flashbacks as the trio at age 9 are (in order) Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak and Parker Bates.

Ron Cephas Jones plays Randall's biological father, William Hill, who abandoned him at birth.

The series, which bounces between the 1980s and present day, has won a number of awards, including a People's Choice as Favorite New TV Drama, and supporting actress Golden Globe for Metz.

The best thing about This Is Us is that it's a heartfelt family drama about interesting people and there's not a murder of the week, cop, perp, conspiracy or apocalypse in sight.

In tonight's episode, "Moonshadow," NBC informs us that Jack heads to Cleveland to make things right with Rebecca on the night of her first big gig with the band and Randall, Kate and Kevin "make big decisions about their futures."

The best news: Thrilled with the ratings (more than 15 million viewers per episode), NBC already has ordered two more 18-episode seasons of the TV-14 series.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Style on 03/14/2017

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