BEING ERICA returned for its second season on SOAPnet this week, and I thought the premiere (called “Being Dr. Tom”) really opened up the concept in an entertaining way that expands on the concept without compromising what has already been established.
The most important development saw Erica (Erin Karpluk) reunited with Dr. Tom (Michael Riley), but it was not easy. I enjoyed seeing Riley flesh out Dr. Tom. Hell, just giving him more to say than recycling quotations was a win. And, okay, so having a dark past is not the most original (or surprising) development, but it was well-handled. And his disconnect from daughter Sarah will no doubt connect with BE’s target audience. The seeds have been planted for an intriguing mystery — just what is the deal with Dr. Tom? Is he dead or alive?
We also saw that Dr. Tom (and his brusque, cold replacement, Dr. Naadiah) can wield their time powers casually, and with great precision, no matter where they are. So what, precisely, is the nature of Erica’s jaunts into the past? Are they actually happening, or are they all in Erica’s mind? When Erica returned to the present, she saw a news story that Dr. Tom had been talked out of jumping all those years ago. Had Erica not only gone back in time but jumped to an alternate reality? The very end of the episode confirmed that there are other therapists with their own patients, as well.
Speaking of which, I fervently hope that we do not see much more of Dr. Naadiah this season — because she is a strikingly awful therapist. The ethical violations she engaged in were stunning! Not only did she violate Dr. Tom’s privacy, she trampled all over Erica’s! She was co-opting Dr. Tom’s history to “help” Erica. The idea of sending the untrained Erica into Tom’s personal past to improvise “helping” him is extremely irresponsible. She could have done serious damage — especially because Erica has demonstrated a willingness to defiantly flout the rules of time travel. Not to mention the fact that Erica was dispatched to watch Tom contemplate suicide! If he turns out to be dead after all, that means Dr. Naadiah forced Erica to watch her friend kill himself. That’s a malpractice lawsuit waiting to happen!
The use of Train’s “Calling All Angels” during the scene in which Erica wondered if Dr. Tom was actually dead was a nice touch, but a bit too on-the-nose; it has to be misdirection. At least, I hope it is. Making Dr. Tom a guardian angel would be too facile. I think he’s dead, but his mind won’t let his spirit move on until he has paid some imagined debt, and the way he works it off is by serving as a time therapist.
We shall see. The season has already completed its run up in Canada, but I have been careful to dodge spoilers. I am looking forward to experiencing this series as it unfolds.