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.