But fans of the East Peck, S.C.-set true crime parody, currently in the middle of its second season, are holding out hope that one of the streaming networks — Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime — will pick it up for a third.
(And if Netflix is lucky enough to snag the show, there’s a great opportunity to market it with “The Staircase,” for which it has exclusive rights. Come on, Netflix!)
“Trial & Error” has been praised by critics for its absurd comedic treatment of the true crime documentary genre, and for the brilliant performances by John Lithgow, Kristin Chenoweth, Sherri Shepherd, Jayma Mays, Nick D’Agosto and others. But the show received minimal promotion and support from NBC, and word-of-mouth from the small but passionate fan base hasn’t been enough to boost the ratings. (Plus, the show isn’t owned by NBC — it’s produced by Warner Brothers — which means less money for NBC, even if it’s a hit.)
‘Trial & Error’ loves the Triangle
The show’s co-creator Jeff Astrof is on record saying that the first season of “Trial & Error” is based on the French documentary “The Staircase,” which covered the trial of novelist Michael Peterson for the murder of his wife Kathleen. Kathleen was found at the bottom of a staircase in the couple’s Durham home in 2001. “The Staircase” was recently released with new episodes on Netflix, putting even more attention on the case.
In Season 1, Lithgow played poet Larry Henderson, who went on trial for murdering his second wife by throwing her through a plate-glass window (which was situated at the bottom of a staircase in the couple’s home). There were other similarities to the Peterson case: Henderson’s first wife died under very similar circumstances and Henderson was having an affair. And of course, an owl and a blowpoke made appearances.
Season 2 had a few throwback references to “The Staircase” (the first episode was called “The Suitcase” and Episode 9 has the Freda Black-inspired DA saying “pure-T filth”), but its inspiration comes from the HBO documentary “The Jinx” and the podcast “S-Town.” Chenoweth’s Lavinia Peck-Foster is the murder defendant this time, and she plays the eccentricity of the part with such zeal that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.
We’ll get another Triangle connection in the Season 2 finale, by way of some narration by Eryk Pruitt, co-creator of the Durham-based true crime podcast “The Long Dance.”
And if we’re lucky enough to get a Season 3, Astrof has said he plans to partially base the plot on a pretty well-known unsolved Durham murder (the Pruitt involvement in the Season 2 finale should serve as your giant hint).