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It's complicated: loving and loathing Erica Strange

Ask about Erica and me and the best answer is, "It's complicated."

That's Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) on Being Erica I'm talking about. The bad-luck babe. Bad luck with jobs, men and sometimes even the weather. Erica's been around for some time now. The third season of Being Erica (CBC, 9 p.m.) started last week. Erica is still not having much luck. And my feelings about Erica are still way-complicated.

It's not just me, of course. The other day, I saw this headline in the online Jerusalem Post: "Hit Canadian series portraying a young time-travelling Jew deals with romance, family, psychotherapy and religion." According to the piece, Erica's Jewishness is much discussed and debated in Canada. I did not know that.

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Meanwhile, reading about Erica recently in the online Winnipeg Free Press, I read this: "A Scottish remake of Being Erica is now in the works." What? My Erica wandering the wet Highlands in her Wellingtons, not her cute heels, muttering, "Oh, aye. I'm nae at home to mister heartbreak today."

It's not that I'm doing online stalking of Erica. No way. It's just, you know, when you like someone and then the feelings get weird and the person seems to drift away (and they're just not being the person you thought they were!), you like to keep up with their doings.

By the way, that Toronto Life magazine, which studies Erica a tad closely, was mean to Erin Karpluk's red-carpet appearance at the Toronto film festival. Some nasty person wrote this: "Our Being Erica is being kinda boring in this dress that we're pretty sure we wore to a Grade 9 semi. Nice colour, though." Like, magazine writers get to walk the red carpet at TIFF? Jealousy, that's what it is.

Anyway, last season Erica was a bit ditzy. Suddenly she seemed less mature than her years, and it took her ages and ages for her to see that that guy Ethan (Tyron Leitso) was just limiting her potential. I like Erica being strong, not a helpless, hapless female, a bit whiny. And her relationship with that Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) was way too confusing. I stopped caring enough. Erica wasn't for me. Or so I thought.

Now, I just don't know what to think or feel. On last week's first episode it emerged that Erica is now in group therapy. These people, none very interesting, sit around and discuss their emotional problems. They learn from each other. That's the idea, anyway. Meanwhile, Erica and Julianne (Reagan Pasternak) started roaring ahead with their publishing start-up business. Even though that guy from their old job was sneering at them. I hate him.

And Erica can't let Ethan go. Which I don't like. There was even a scene (it took place, like, a block from where I'm writing this) which had Erica calling Ethan from a pay phone just to listen to him saying, "Hello? Hello?"

This bothered me a bit. See, it's Ethan that should be all moody and mooning over Erica. He's not special, she is. I mean, if all of Jewish Canada is constantly debating Erica and there's going to be Scottish version of Erica, you'd think the guy would grasp that Erica is unique, adorable and an absolute doll.

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On tonight's episode, stuff happens. Erica and Julianne get a bank loan for office furniture, I think. There's a scene in which Erica is involved in some pole-dancing class, I think. Can't be sure because that's when the disc sent by CBC's outsourced PR company disintegrated and crashed my computer. It's probably a good thing that I didn't see too much more. My Erica doesn't need some pole-dancing routine. She hot. She's a doll.

The thing is, Erica is a bit different now. There used to be whimsy in Being Erica. And sometimes rough humour. Erica was smart, unpredictable and strong. Her own woman. That's the woman I fell for. Now Erica has more baggage than a pack mule and is about as interesting to watch. Group therapy? Please. All those people talking therapy-talk. Just let Erica get on with her life. And bring her back to me.

Also airing tonight

No Ordinary Family (ABC, CTV, 8 p.m.) is very perplexing. First, anyone familiar with The Shield and Dexter will take some time to adjust to this one. That's because Julie Benz, who was Dexter's gal on that blood-soaked show, plays a mom, married to an ordinary guy. But that guy is played by Michael Chiklis, who is best known - and always will be known - for his work as the terrifying, corrupt cop Vic Mackey on The Shield. Here, the family is terribly mundane. Then, on a plane trip, they acquire superpowers. Yes, they do. That means their lives are different but not easy. And one thing you'll notice is that Chiklis always looks uneasy in the role. No Ordinary Family is a sort of Heroes-for-family-viewing, or a live-action version of The Incredibles. This is breezy family TV, utterly without depth. If that's your bag, enjoy. Just don't expect more.

Check local listings.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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