'Trial & Error' Would Follow A New Case In Season 2

by Kayla Hawkins
Scott Everett White/Warner Bros/NBC

There's a lot to like about NBC's Trial & Error, which takes the murder mystery to a totally new format: the sitcom. And, since the whole series is built around a single, central mystery, if Trial & Error returns for Season 2, it will have to make some changes. But if you've loved the first season, fear not, because there's a plan to keep this semi-anthology series going after the case of Larry Henderson is solved.

According to IndieWire, the first season is heavily inspired by documentary The Staircase and the puzzling case of Michael Peterson, a writer accused of killing his wife in 2001. (After a 15-year legal ordeal including a vacated guilty verdict in 2010, Peterson pled guilty to manslaughter. He has always maintained his innocence, according to a statement made by his lawyer to The News & Observer.) The documentary series gives an incredibly intimate look into Peterson's case and examines the available evidence for other possibilities.

I, for one, am curious to see if the Trial & Error team subscribe to The Staircase's Owl Theory, the suggestion that Kathleen Peterson might have been killed by an owl. (According to The News & Observer, Peterson's defense involved affidavits from experts asserting that an owl attack could have caused her death.) The comedy series has incorporated quite a few bird references into the plot, from the pilot on. But why would Larry confess to killing Margaret, as he does in the preview below? The finale will tell.

But after Season 1 comes to an end on April 18, NBC will have to decide whether or not to renew Trial & Error for a second season. Unfortunately, Trial & Error's ratings have been middling for a network sitcom, according to TV By the Numbers. They could make for a delayed return or a cancellation, unfortunately.

But showrunner Jeff Astrof already has some ideas about where the story would go in a second season. Back in January, he told Deadline that Season 2 would take place in the same town with many of the same characters, though the case at the center would change. And the showrunner told The News & Observer about some specific ideas for a potential second season of Trial & Error, also inspired by famous true crime mystery documentaries. He said:

"We will add a documentarian, a la The Jinx. So it’s a little of The Jinx as far as having a documentarian with an agenda. And we’ll have a female suspect. So it’s not exactly like The Jinx because The Jinx is too well known. I’d say we’re doing an homage to The Jinx but also doing re-creations, a la Thin Blue Line."

So what can be gleaned from Astrof's hints? The female suspect, who is not necessarily a murderer, by the way, could be one of the existing characters, if the show will still be set in East Peck. Could it be Anne, whose collection of tics may make her behavior seem suspicious? It might be interesting if it's Carol Ann. Her relationship with Josh could keep him invested in finding out what happened and if he is defending her, it would be an interesting twist. And there's also Summer, if the extended Henderson family has the bad luck to be subjected to another big trial.

Astrof references the HBO series The Jinx, which features shocking interviews with alleged killer Robert Durst. (Durst is currently awaiting trial and maintains his innocence.) He also references The Thin Blue Line, which is a thrilling doc that actually helped exonerate a man by exposing the faulty police work that led to his conviction for allegedly murdering an officer. In the world of Trial & Error's East Peck, I can easily see the police, prosecutor's office, and jurors catching the wrong killer. Duplicating director Errol Morris' signature style, however, will be a harder task.

Presumably, the Jinx-inspired documentarian would be a new character, since the first season never introduced the auteur behind the footage. However, it has been canonically established that someone is already, in fact, filming a documentary, since the cameras were able to prove Larry didn't kill Roger Bentman.

Finding out who would be curious to document the eccentricities of East Peck and what other crimes are being committed there could be fascinating additions to Season 2 of Trial & Error. Hopefully, NBC loves the true crime genre enough to give this underrated series the greenlight for more episodes.