Review: Being Erica 2×1

The therapist is in

Being Erica 2x1

In Canada: Tuesdays, 9pm, CBC
in the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT, Soapnet. Starts January 20th 2010
In the UK: Season 1: Mondays, 10pm, E4. Starts September 28th. No word on season 2

Being Erica is one of the new breed of Canadian TV shows that are actually very good – good enough to compete globally and even be better than those from the US and Britain. Kind of like “Quantum Leap for girls”, it sees 30-something Erica Strange taken back in time by mysterious therapist “Dr Tom” to fix those parts of her past that made her the fabulous call centre operator with an MA in English Literature that she is today.

While it wasn’t the grittiest show in existence and answers about who exactly Dr Tom was or why he wanted to help Erica weren’t exactly forthcoming, season one was smart, emotional, made a decent stab at depth despite the fantasy element of its set-up and was genuinely moving at times.

Get watching UK viewers: it starts on E4 on Monday.

The first season saw Dr Tom’s unique, quote-laden therapy help Erica to get a decent job and a decent boyfriend, and to fix her relationships with her friends and family. By the end of it, Erica seemed pretty much fixed. However, she seemed to have broken ‘Dr Tom’ by breaking the rules he’d laid down for her therapy. As we go into season two, she has a new therapist, Dr Nadia, whom she doesn’t want, as well as a new mission.

More importantly, it’s time to pay for her therapy because she’s built up quite a bill.

For anyone worried that Being Erica would have nowhere to go this season, doubts should be assuaged by this season premiere, which is at least as good as season one’s episodes. Indeed, if it could have dropped its teenage girl view of what publishing is like – something that would fit in a whole lot better in Sophie than a show that’s trying to say something important – this would have been an all-round knockout of an episode.

Although it looks very much like a one-off rather than a true change of format, this was a Quantum Leap proper, with Erica ‘leaping’ back into herself 10 years earlier to Tom Wexlar – the man who will one day become Dr Tom. While she ultimately can’t help him that much, the episode answers many of the questions raised about Dr Tom during the first season, while raising others. Is he an angel or something else given that he’s seen to commit suicide by jumping off a building? Will Erica one day end up a therapist as well to pay off her debts? And why are Dr Tom and Dr Nadia so interested in her and so keen on her having therapy? I’m more confident than I was that one day these questions might get answered than I was, and that the answers when they come will be interesting.

It’s also interesting to see this world of ‘therapists’ who can take people out of time at a whim, jump back themselves whenever they want and clearly have an agenda themselves. It’s a surprisingly menacing quality to the show that I hope they develop.

Next episode looks like it resumes with Erica’s therapy – apparently, there are still a lot of regrets and issues she still has to come to terms with, despite her apparent happiness. But if it maintains this quality, everyone should be watching it.

  • I only found out about this show last year because of this blog and loved it. Very happy it’s back again. Thank you !

  • bob

    Thanks for the reminder Rob- I admit I had forgotten Being Erica would be starting again.
    This episode was so strong. The series relies on the acting abilities of Erica and Dr Tom so much (as it could otherwise be too fluffy) and this episode show-cased them both so well. I love the extension of the mythology and I hope it goes further in this season. (Though I was surprised how well my interest was sustained in season 1 without them changing the formula…).
    The book editing scenes are atrocious though.

  • I’m glad the blog proved useful – it makes it all worthwhile! Hope you enjoy season two as well

  • SK

    Yes, it was good. However, I am confused: was Erica really occupying her own body in the leap back? She’s been a lot of things but I’m not sure I saw her as a table dancer. And there are clues both ways: she says ‘I don’t even know what year it is’; surely she’d remember when she was dancing to pay for her graduate school course! And it’s a bit of a coincidence that she, Julie-Ann, and Dr Tom would all have been in the same place at the same time (Julie-Ann & Tom, I can buy as a coincidence, if she was taken there; the three of them, though?). But then she goes ‘home’ to use the internet (and I loved the ‘hurry up’ line). And her days as a graduate student have so far remained unvisited, haven’t they?
    But in general very impressed. Though I remember you being less enthusiastic about the rest of the series…

  • MediumRob

    “Yes, it was good. However, I am confused: was Erica really occupying her own body in the leap back? She’s been a lot of things but I’m not sure I saw her as a table dancer.”
    I think she was herself, IIRC.
    “And there are clues both ways: she says ‘I don’t even know what year it is’; surely she’d remember when she was dancing to pay for her graduate school course!”
    Depends if she did it for more than one year or not.
    “Though I remember you being less enthusiastic about the rest of the series…”
    IIRC, the first few are fine, it gets a bit samey for about three or four episodes, then it really picks up again towards the end of the season.