Eric Review

New York, the 1980s. When his nine-year old son Edgar (Ivan Morris Howe) goes missing, puppeteer Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch) battles substance abuse and other personal demons in a race to bring Edgar home. And he does it all with a seven-foot-tall blue monster in tow.

by David Opie |
Published on

Streaming on: Netflix

Episodes viewed: 6 of 6

Benedict Cumberbatch is back on the small screen. Eric is an original new mystery surrounding the disappearance of a nine-year-old boy; the real mystery, though, is how anyone convinced Netflix to make this show at all. That's not to say Eric is bad — in fact, it's one of the most original Netflix Originals in some time.


Mixing true crime and social realism with hallucinations of a giant blue monster isn't an easy sell, but BAFTA and Emmy winner Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, The Split) deftly weaves in Vincent's delusions, folding in everything from homelessness and systemic racism to police corruption and the AIDS epidemic in an organically realised vision of '80s New York. At times, there's almost too much going on, as if Eric is two shows in one, swinging between family drama and cop thriller on a dime. It's refreshing for a Netflix series to pack in so many themes and ideas.

It’s ultimately an eccentric take on finding home, whatever your definition of that might be.

The cast sell it all brilliantly, too. Cumberbatch is the star draw, flailing between desperate and cruel in admirably unlikeable fashion, while Gaby Hoffmann brings depth to what could have been a thankless role as Vincent's long-suffering wife Cassie. McKinley Belcher III is, arguably, Eric's MVP, playing queer policeman Michael Ledroit with very precise restraint. There's a quiet rage that lies just under that calm, professional exterior, rallying against the prejudice Ledroit faces daily as a closeted gay Black cop.

It's a shame there's not more time to explore these hefty themes — some key plot points are wrapped up too neatly by the end — but thematically, Eric does a wonderful job of interlacing everything together. It’s ultimately an eccentric take on finding home, whatever your definition of that might be: in the arms of family, community, or in a very literal sense. Even the titular Eric finds his place here, and it's remarkable just how well this fuzzy blue monster fits in without detracting from the wider narrative or confusing things tonally. That's the real mystery, in fact. Just how well Eric works across all these different fronts.

Monsters real and imagined are confronted in an ambitious undertaking that successfully balances true-crime realism with child-like awe and wonder. More of this please, Netflix.
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