Monday, September 20, 2010
Being Erica Deserved A Third Chance
Among TV's stranger couples the twosome on CBC-TV's Being Erica strike me as the most inexplicable.
I'm talking about the bizarre relationship between the nicely titled Erica Strange (played winningly by Erin Karpluk) and her psychoanalyst (another brilliant turn by Michael Riley).
I mean what is this, an evolving romance, a relationship between two unequals, a visit to a psychiatrist.
Or all three of the above.
The hour Canadian drama returns for a rare third try at the brass ring Tuesday Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Given last season's weak ratings CBC sources are saying the series is only back because of its tremendous popularity in the U.S. on the SOAPnet cable channel. CBC took its time in renewing this one but finally the lure of all those American dollars proved too much.
Plus the series is good if starved for Canadian viewers.
I have one American friend wgo is totally obsessed with this series and still refuses to believe it could possibly be made in Canada.
I have another friend here in Toronto who think the time travelling stuff "a bunch of guff" although she continues to watch.
For me the series had a strong second beginning and then got bogged down to the point of ennui. Nobody on the show seemed to be growing, it was the same premise every week.
Viewers noticed by migrating to the strong American competition.
When CBC gave Being Erica a third chance it seemed the series should go off in new directions. And it has although I cannot break my TV critic's oath and reveal plot details here.
Getting a third season out of a series has always been a conundrum for CBC which lacks the promotional dollars to go out and create a blitz of recognition. For that reason CBC series tend to get picked up for a second season in the hope that word of mouth can create a winning formula.
Hey, it worked with DaVinci's Inquest but it didn't work with the excellent Intelligence.
On Riley's last CBC series This Is Wonderland season 3 proved to be the killer --CBC decided it was a 10 p.m. show and since the network had news at 10 the show got cancelled.
The plot does deepen this season as Erica enters Phase Two of her therapy. I'm just asking but why does she think she needs therapy anyway.
She's so danged nice that everybody else around her always beats up on her and Dr. Tom especially likes to play mind games. Being so nice she always defers to his requests.
In group therapy the other patients seem to gang up on her.
And after Phase Two Dr. Tom warns she'll then to Phase Three and become a doctor herself.
Visuals are splendid --Toronto as Toronto is really on display here, the supporting cast is attractive and this is on CBC series that doesn't look stodgy.
But having a great product doesn't guarantee Canadian TV success. If it did The City, Power Play and half a dozen other series would still be running. And most of these aren't even available in DVD boxed sets.
And the fact that Americans really dig Being Erica more than we do is something pretty substantial. If only more Canadians would watch then the series might yet become a deserved hit.
THE THIRD SEASON PREMIERE OF BEING ERICA IS ON CBC-TV TUES. SEPT. 21 AT 9 P.M.
MY RATING: ***.