Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Time keeps ticking for Lavinia as Trial & Error kicks the craziness up several more notches

Illustration for article titled Time keeps ticking for Lavinia as Trial & Error kicks the craziness up several more notches

“The following documentary tells the story of the People v. Lavinia Peck-Foster.”


If we accept as a truism the musing by noted British wordsmiths David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel that “it’s such a fine line between clever and stupid,” then Trial & Error spent its first season riding that line like an elephant on a unicycle, only to return for season two with the elephant wearing a tutu: having already impressed the audience with its balancing act, it’s now focusing specifically on the percentage of spectators who are howling, “Holy shit, now the elephant’s wearing a fucking tutu!

Has this new development made the elephant wobbly? That’s a question better asked of those who are focusing on the unicycle. Me, I’m still laughing at the tutu.

Trying to prove that Lavinia couldn’t have killed her husband Edgar remains first and foremost in Josh’s mind, but it’s still proving harder than herding cats to get his team to focus on finding the necessary evidence to prove her innocence. (Dwayne’s ineptitude as an investigator is only matched by his incompetence as a police officer, but damned if he doesn’t consistently manage to find the balance between the two.) If it wasn’t for Anne’s crazy condition of the week – this time it’s random dog-level hearing – it’s likely that they wouldn’t have stumbled upon Edgar’s clock workshop until Lavinia felt that it was in her best interest for them to do so. The result of the stumbling, however, was the discovery of a logbook, which led to various other discoveries, including Edgar’s affair, Edgar’s $50 million insurance policy, and Edgar’s beneficiary: Ronnie del Mundo, a.k.a. Lavinia wearing a trucker’s cap and a fake mustache.

It’s hard to imagine how this season would’ve played out with anyone other than Kristin Chenoweth playing Lavinia, given how successfully she plays the various facets of the character’s personality. Of course she’s skilled at playing the diva, but she’s particularly impressive when delivering a quick bounce between emotions. When she’s giving the tour of the house, she remarks on “the unused nursery for the children we never had” and “the playroom for the very same children,” after which she makes note of a table filled with picture frames for children which are “empty, like my womb,” only to abruptly dismiss the observation by shrugging, “What’re you gonna do?” In regards to her aforementioned disguise, that’s what she’s wearing when she’s arrested for shoplifting, which she explains away as her way to keep from being photographed. There’s clearly more to it than that, though, and as contrived as as it sounds that there was actually a real Ronnie del Mundo who was an employee of her family, I won’t be at all surprised if it turns out to be true.

Over the course of this week’s pair of new episodes, we got a number of completely ridiculous additions to the list of East Peck’s eccentricities, the most insane of which was arguably Moose Day, with its “wait, what?” premise involving Mickey Moose seeing his breath and telling them how many Saturdays they’ll have in a month. Also of note: the fact that students who attend East Peck Community College can apparently study both Air Conditioning and Repair. The “Lady Driver!” flagman returned twice – once in “The Murder Clock,” once in “A Hole in the Case” – so those who you who said you’d be just fine if we got that joke in every episode, congratulations. In the midst of seeing Josh’s domicile, which looks like the home of someone’s grandmother (because that’s right about where Josh’s sensibilities sit), we also got a reminder of East Peck’s daily cannon firings, which have been going on since the Civil War despite having caused “death by cannonball” to become the city’s third leading cause of death.


The Josh / Carol Anne / Nina love triangle still hasn’t taken off in full force – right now, it still feels like Nina’s presence is less about possible romance and more about her comedic worth as the host of a true-crime podcast – but I’ll allow it for the moment because of Josh’s efforts to keep a lid on his past (and present) dalliances with Carol Ann, which have been equal parts awkward and hysterical. It seems unlikely that the series will allow him to settle down with either of his possible romantic interest until the end of the trial, however, so my expectation is that Nina becomes a much more important player sooner than later. It’s just a matter of seeing whether it’ll be in the bedroom or the courtroom. As for Carol Anne, her pregnancy storyline took a hard left turn toward Crazy Town this week, what with the OBVIN and all. And what was with that jump she made while running through the woods? I have a feeling that we’ll learn more about that in the very near future, too, and given that getting a lot of charley horses doesn’t normally make you capable of jumping like a horse, I’m a little frightened to find out what’s going on.

To jump back to the courtroom, even Josh’s razzle dazzle in the courtroom can’t initially save Lavinia’s claims about Edgar’s insurance policy from being torn apart by handwriting expert Michael Poisson (guest star Jim O’Heir), but after Josh accepts a personal invitation to spend an evening, if not the night, with Lavinia, he’s able to salvage the situation. Not that it lasts, of course: just before the closing credits of “A Hole in the Case,” we find out that the titular hole is in the wall of the pool room, and it leads to an escape tube that suddenly makes it quite plausible for Lavinia to have transported Edgar’s body and gotten back to her gala in a timely fashion…and that’s no matter which Peck time zone the murder clock was set for.


Yes, craziness abounds, but even in the midst of the craziness, I’m still not sure whether Lavinia did it or not. As far as I’m concerned, that means the unicycle is just as steady as it ever was.

Stray observations:

  • Call me crazy, but Lavinia’s remarks about her cat Fluffy make me wonder if cloning might play into this season somehow. That, or he really is immortal. (With this show, it could go either way.)
  • “You carry a plate in your purse, but no wallet?”
  • “I knew the case would eventually take a turn in our favor. Well, I didn’t know it. But, man, I hoped for it really hard.”
  • Apparently Edgar was quite the clocksman.
  • I don’t need a subscription to Furtility Magazine. Just knowing that there’s a fictional publication of that name is enough for me.
  • I’m going to need my own t-shirt that says “My Other Shirt is Pants.” If I could get a 2XL, that’d be great, thanks.
  • “Ronnie died doing what he loved the most: screaming in front of a car.”
  • I laughed very, very hard at the one-two punch of Dwayne describing his penis hat as “a perfect conversation starter” being followed by his co-worker saying, “They want to talk to you in H.R.”
  • Clocks for Kids: “What would you like to say to Mr. Foster?” “I’m so hungry!
  • Two words: John Lithgoat.

You may remember me from such features as Random Roles, or my oral histories of Battle of the Network Stars and Airplane!