Review: Being Erica 1×1

A Quantum Leap in therapy

In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CBC

UPDATED 9/1/9: With new pic and vids
UPDATE 2: Apparently, the BBC is going to acquire this, although no airdate is fixed

There’s kind of a golden rule in time travel stories: never interfere with your own past. Don’t go meet your parents because your dad or mum will fall in love with you and you’ll never be born; don’t try to save a relative’s life because the wee timerous beasties will start eating you while you’re trapped in a church. That kind of thing.

The other golden rule is that you’re travelling in time to make a difference to the world. Let’s stop war being averted, aliens invading and taking over, or the future president of the United States from being killed by assassins.

Being Erica laughs – it is a dramedy after all – at that kind of jessie talk. It’s a time travel show in which the heroine does nothing but interfere with her own past, all because her life’s a bit of a mess and she’d quite like a decent job or boyfriend for a change.

Erica Strange is 32, lives in Toronto and her life has gone to pot. She has a Masters but works in a call centre – or should that be worked? She’s cute but always gets dumped or treated badly by rubbish men. Everyone she knows seems to be married and successful. If only she didn’t keep making such bad decisions.

After she wakes up in hospital after an allergic reaction to a nut-infused coffee, a mysterious, saturnine man called Dr Tom (Baker?) turns up at her door offering her therapy that’s guaranteed to fix her life. What he doesn’t tell her is that it involves travelling into her past to points in her life when she made bad decisions to see if she’d make a better job of things with the gifts of hindsight and maturity.

First ‘leap’: Prom Night.

Is it any good?
It’s actually quite fun. A little predictable, but still fun, even moving at times and also a little dark.

We know, even before it happens, for example, that Prom Night – which once ended with Erica getting drunk, dancing with the wrong men, getting dumped by her boyfriend, passing out on the dance floor and being called a slut and Prom Night-ruiner for the rest of her High School life – will still end up with Erica messing things up and behaving stupidly in a Lost in Austen kind of way. Which does indeed come to pass.

Yet it’s edgier than its chick lit tendencies might suggest. There’s the darkness of a dead brother she can now meet again in the past. She does quite adult things as a teenager, and others – particularly her boyfriend – find it hard to come to terms with that. Indeed, part of Erica’s ‘therapy’ seems to be about coming to terms with her mistakes and who she is, discovering she’s a better person than she thinks and becoming a more confident person as a result.

There’s also the little issue of Dr Tom, who sends her on her way and joins her in the past at select moments. He has a mysterious disappearing office and no last name. He doesn’t want money and doesn’t say why he wants to help, but he does want total commitment to the therapeutic process. He might be Al to Erica’s Sam Beckett but he could also be the devil, what with that beard n’all, and Erica’s completely at his mercy.

At the moment, the show’s all about Erica, who’s pleasing enough in a non-threatening sort of way, so few of the supporting characters have had much of a look in yet. Fingers crossed, they’ll get fleshed out in the coming weeks to become more than people who frown a lot and cast disparaging comments at Erica. In particular, her brother-in-law might turn out in interestingly different ways, if the events of the first episode are followed through.

One to stick with for a while, I reckon, if only to spot lots of actors from The Border popping up: so far, Zoe the daughter as a drunk Prom Nighter.

Here is a trailer for the show and some clips on YouTube. ‘Erica’ also has a blog and a video log if you’re interested.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.