Wish I had Erica Strange's magic therapist so I could be sent back in time to meet deadlines to report on second season premieres of shows like Being Erica. But I don't so this quick catch up will have to do.
Being Erica's second season premiere Tuesday may not have been a ratings grabber (less than half a million CBC viewers), but it was the best episode, in my opinion, since the pilot. There are spoilers ahead, so if you`ve PVR`d this and haven`t watched it yet, skip to the next post.
The episode--"Being Dr. Tom"--opened exactly where the series left off last spring, in new therapist's Naadiah’s cold white office. We find out that mysterious Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) has given up on Erica after she defied him and meddled in her late brother's fate in an earlier episode. That was a cosmic no-no, and an angry Dr. Tom has said to hell with being Erica's magic mentalist.
A much more mature and together Erica rejects the concept that she's been ditched by her therapist. So the new shrink sends Erica into Dr. Tom's world, circa 1998, to discover just how screwed up he is. It always comes right back to Shakespeare: "Physician, heal thyself."
John Doyle at the Globe and Mail lost interest at this point but I beg to differ. I've always been more interested in Dr. Tom than Erica. Any excuse to give Riley more screen time is okay with me.
Doyle finds Erica has gone all whiny and shrill but, for me, Erin Karpluk has taken it down a notch and the character seems to be finally acting her age. There was even a welcome bit of self effacing humour in Tuesday`s premiere, when new doc Naadiah gives Dr. Tom a taste of his own medicine by throwing a quote (“Fear is the mind killer”) in his face. “Yeah—its annoying, isn’t it?” she says. Exactly.
Maybe it was too soon to turn this series inside out like this, to make the hunted the hunter, to move Beyond Erica. Is season two more about Dr. Tom’s past? Are we bored already with all the regrets Erica had left to stare down?
All I know is that this is the first episode of this series where I wasn't looking at the clock and thinking, damn, this would have made a great half hour show. There was stuff going on all the time, plenty of story. Erica just revisiting past regrets every week was getting old anyway, so why not let Karpluk grow the character in a mature new direction.
The challenge, of course, is now what? You just played the Ace. The writers will have a difficult task to keep the original fans keen and grow the show in a new direction.
It looks like there will be plenty of B story ahead about Erica’s new sex book assignment. Her home and work life are both too good right now and that's no fun. Whatever. Bring us back inside Dr. Tom’s messed up world, please, and let Erica lead the way.