Canadian TV

Review: Being Erica 1×1

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.

Continue reading “Review: Being Erica 1×1”

Canadian TV

Season finale: The Border (season two)

The Border finale

Pay attention, UK readers: this may be about a Canadian show, but it’s going to be on FX (aka “The channel that gets all the good stuff but no one can get and no one watches”) in the UK soon, so it affects you now.

The Border is Canada’s good TV programme. An atypically conservative take on world affairs, it’s a look at terrorism, crime, international relations, spies and other nefarious activities, all set to the backdrop of Canada’s Immigration and Customs Security (ICS) agency. It does what 24 and Spooks does – except better and with a smaller cast.

So popular did it prove when it aired during the American writers’ strike last January that it was re-commissioned for a second season while it was still airing, and a third one is on its way soon.

But since most of y’all won’t be watching it for a while, I’ll continue talking about it after the jump – and specifically, the second season finale.

Continue reading “Season finale: The Border (season two)”

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Review: The Border 2×1

The Border

In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CBC

Not so long ago, there was a writers’ strike in the US. Faced with the unthinkable prospect of watching British television, I decided to have a look at some of the programmes available from other countries – in particular, Canada. CBC’s The Border was one such programme and to my incredible surprise, it turned out not just to be a good programme “by Canadian standards”* but a good programme, full stop.

Seemingly intended not just to demonstrate that Canadians easily have what it takes to make good TV but to show that they’re not all the liberals stereotypes would have us believe, The Border is a cross between Spooks and 24, right down to the shaky cam, with Canada’s heroic Immigration and Customs Service (ICS) defending the country against all kinds of threats – all of which seem to be American or Muslim.

Although by no means the best action-thriller series ever made, it was reasonably clever, albeit a touch low budget, and didn’t dumb itself down like Flashpoint did to attract an international audience. The inter-departmental conflict with Canada’s CSIS – the country’s equivalent of MI6 and the CIA – was interesting, even if it was cast in strictly black and white terms, with CSIS boss John Bennett (Forever Knight) almost twirling a moustache during every appearance. And the usual conclusions to stories were a touch, ahem, Canadian, with the villains either misunderstood or American.

But now it’s back after just six month’s absence – it was that popular – and changes are afoot.

Continue reading “Review: The Border 2×1”