WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

Larry Henderson absolutely, positively, definitely killed his wife.

Unless, y'know, he didn't.

Oh, sure, the evidence doesn't look all that promising. Larry was home, waiting for the cable guy, when wife Margaret was thrown through a glass window at the house. Those were his roller skate wheels that rolled through Margaret's blood, leaving fresh red tracks around her body. When the police arrived, he did seem just as despondent over the no-show cable guy as he was over his wife's murder.

Oh, and I probably should mention that before all this he was having an extramarital fling with his male fitness trainer.

"I was having sex outside of marriage," he says. "I'd hardly call that an affair."

Of course, there's also the little matter of Larry's first wife, who just happened to die after …. um, crashing through a plate glass window.

But Larry insists he's innocent, and that's good enough for lawyer Josh Simon. After all, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, not the defense. Carol Anne Keane, the ambitious prosecuting attorney, has to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Larry's guilty. And if there's anything Josh has learned in his short time in East Peck, S.C., it's that this whole case is about as unreasonable as it gets.

Order in This Court?

To defend Larry, Josh has assembled the best legal team East Peck has to offer—which, admittedly, isn't much. Investigator Dwayne Reed was kicked off the police force after he plugged his own police cruiser with several bullets. (He thought it was being stolen, but in reality he'd just forgotten to put on the parking brake.) And Josh's assistant, Anne Flatch, has so many strange psychological ailments that she could fill a whole psych ward by herself.

It doesn't help that Carol Anne is gunning to become district attorney and, in order to prove her tough-on-crime bona fides, she's gunning to put Larry to death. For her, it's just a question as to whether she'll settle for execution via electrocution or go for the gusto and insist on death by bear.

But Josh is sure that his client is innocent, and that means something, right?

Thrown Out on Technicality

NBC's Trial & Error spoofs the barrage of true crime narratives we've seen lately in entertainment, ranging from the Serial podcast to Netflix's Making a Murderer docu-miniseries. Indeed, NBC allegedly loosely based this wacky sitcom off The Staircase, a true-crime miniseries that aired in France in 2004.

Our shared cultural fascination with watching real-life murder investigations spool out for entertainment is, arguably, troubling in its own right. So perhaps we should be relieved that the problems with Trial & Error aren't nearly so subtle.

Trial & Error, can be funny, no question. Anchored by John Lithgow as the daffy accused, the show feels a bit like NBC's late, little-watched-but-much-loved Community trapped in an American Crime-like saga.

But the show does dive into some unseemly places.

As we've already mentioned, Larry's either gay or bisexual, and his sexual proclivities are an important part of both the prosecution's case and the show itself. Moreover, just the mere fact that we mention Larry's amorous preferences in this review would mark it—and presumably those of you for whom these sorts of things are important—as in league with what the show views as East Peck's backward, conservative mindset.

Sexual dalliances, though, aren't restricted to Larry. The show, while not perhaps obsessed with sex, is definitely preoccupied with it. Carol Anne is determined to seduce Josh (and not above using suggestive, crass language to do so). Josh's obsessive-compulsive forensics investigator engages in acts of "self-stimulation" whenever the work environment grows too stressful, sending him scurrying to a nearby bathroom whenever something critical happens. And so on.

Violence is rarely a problem in most sitcoms, and Trial & Error doesn't feature a lot of explicit, on-screen mayhem. But an act of violence is critical to the show's whole setup, and it's not uncommon to see pictures or videos of bloody crime scenes. And while the show's language rarely goes beyond the occasional "h---" or "d--n" explicitly, Trial & Error's documentary conceit allows for a whole bunch of suggestive bleeps, many of which obviously conceal f- and s-words.

NBC's sitcom has earned some praise from secular critics, and I get that. But when it comes to family viewing, Trial & Error feels like one long trial and a whole lot of error.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Trial & Error: March 14, 2017 "A Big Crime in a Small Town/A Wrench in the Case"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Nick D'Agosto as Josh Simon; John Lithgow as Larry Henderson; Sherri Shepherd as Anne Flatch; Jayma Mays as Carol Anne Keane; Steven Boyer as Dwayne; Krysta Rodriguez as Summer Henderson

Director

Distributor

Network

NBC

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!