Tuesday, February 28, 2017


David Pearse as Lawrence.
Lawrence doesn't just play trivia with his mates at the Blue Swan. He lives for it.

His goal is for The Team With No Name to be crowned trivia night champs for 52 consecutive weeks. That lofty ambition is in sight when we first meet Lawrence and his three teammates: his friend Adam (who owns the pub), Cathy (who recently lost her job), and Tony (the pub's chef). However, things become suddenly unsettled when Lawrence "fires" Tony for missing a sports question. Never mind that Lawrence answers 90% of the questions; his expectation is for his mates to know the few answers that he doesn't.

Janet Moran as Molly.
With the team in need of a fourth player, Cathy brings her friend Molly, a single mother whose boyfriend was literally eaten by a shark. To Lawrence's surprise, Molly is his equal when it comes to trivia. Admiration soon turns into something more. Could it be that the socially awkward Lawrence has become smitten with Molly?

Part comedy, part character study, Trivia is an addicting half-hour Irish TV series that aired in 2011-2012. There are other plotlines during the stellar first season, such as Cathy's crush on Adam--which is obvious to everyone but Adam. However, most of the six episodes focus on Lawrence, an intelligent young man with low self-esteem and social challenges that almost rival Doc Martin. Lawrence lives with his parents (who constantly compare him to his "successful" brother) and works as the sole clerk at The Flick Shack (which is almost always empty). His joy at winning trivia night is short-lived; as soon as he gets home, he starts studying again for the next game.

Keith McErlean as Adam.
David Pearse brings Lawrence to life, making him compelling, sympathetic, and cringe-worthy all at the same time. His greatest accomplishment is that he makes the audience root for this shaggy-dog character. Damien Owens' strong writing helps immensely, of course, especially his brilliant idea to forge a bond between Lawrence and Molly's daughter Aisling.

The first season ends on a high note with an unexpected, but very satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately, it sets too high a bar for the second season, which deviates from the weekly trivia contests and eliminates Cathy (who was winningly played by Olivia Caffrey). The series struggles to find its way for the first three episodes, but starts to improve during the latter half of its short season. The second season concludes with a cliffhanger that is never resolved--since the show was cancelled. (Writer Owens has stated it was intended to be a three-season series.)

It's a shame that Trivia lasted for just 12 episodes, but sometimes it's better to leave fans wanting more than for a show to overstay its welcome. Besides, I can just imagine Lawrence answering this question on trivia night: What was the name of the short-lived Irish comedy that took place at a pub called the Blue Swan?

Trivia can be streamed on Acorn TV and Hulu.

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