Eric Review: A Commendable Yet Flawed Drama

When Ambition Overshadows Execution

In 1980s New York City, acclaimed puppeteer Vincent Anderson is grappling with the sudden disappearance of his young son Edgar. As Vincent plunges into the city’s underbelly, seeking answers, he becomes increasingly dependent on Eric, a giant, foul-mouthed monster puppet brought to life from one of Edgar’s drawings.

We’re introduced to Vincent on the set of his popular children’s TV show, Good Day Sunshine, where he oversees colorful puppet antics but struggles with personal demons. When Edgar vanishes one morning, Vincent’s life unravels as he struggles with alcoholism and spiraling mental health. Detective Michael Ledroit puzzles over the case, connecting it to other missing people and uncovering systemic corruption.

What follows is a gritty yet surreal exploration of pain, obsession, and justice. Vincent loses himself in his puppets as the city’s shadows seem to engulf him. But Eric, voiced sensitively by Benedict Cumberbatch himself, provides solace and a mirror to the soul. Their bond evolves as Vincent searches for answers, traveling from the polished TV studio to New York’s darkened streets.

Throughout it all, challenging questions are raised about society’s monsters—those we create and those we ignore. Eric is a mystery that morphs into a heartfelt character study, carried by nuanced performances and its dreamlike ability to confront hard truths through a layer of fanciful grit.

Weaving Complex Tapestries

In 1980s New York City, acclaimed puppeteer Vincent Anderson sees his world fall apart following the disappearance of his young son Edgar. As Vincent descends into the urban jungle on a desperate search for answers, Eric unravels multiple complex storylines across its six episodes.

The series opens by introducing Vincent and his troubled family life, establishing the mystery of Edgar’s disappearance. From there, it follows Detective Michael Ledroit as he investigates both Edgar and a similarly unsolved missing black teen case from months prior. As Vincent spirals into madness and dependency on his hallucinated monster puppet Eric, the show delves deeper into matters of homelessness, corruption, racism, and the AIDS epidemic.

Tightly-written and boasting standout performances, particularly from Benedict Cumberbatch and McKinley Belcher III, Eric succeeds in bringing these difficult topics sharply into focus. But with so many moving parts, does it pull too far in too many directions at once?

While the premiere hooks viewers with its foreboding missing child intrigue, subsequent episodes pivot between pockets of suspense and more expositional dives into complex issues. This shift in pacing gives the material room to breathe, yet it risks losing some in the constantly shifting scope. Further, attempts to offset the harrowing drama with Eric’s surreal antics occasionally clash in tone rather than balance each other out.

By the tense and emotionally charged conclusion, however, Abi Morgan’s vision comes together resoundingly. Loose threads wind together, and the city’s festering wounds are dragged into stark light. If the journey feels winding at times, Eric arrives at its destination with poignancy and power, leaving audiences much to ponder long after the final credits roll.

Exploring the Cracks Beneath the Surface

Vincent Anderson is undoubtedly the central figure driving the haunting drama of Eric. As the desperate father whose greatest fears are realized with his son’s disappearance, Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a tour-de-force performance that holds the viewer in a vice-like grip.

Eric Review

We first meet Vincent amid the chaos of his career and crumbling marriage. Cumberbatch imbues him with an erratic energy and narcissism that immediately alienate those around him. Yet beneath the bravado lurks vulnerability, with his devotion to Edgar seeming to be one of the few soft spots. As the story progresses, we witness Vincent’s steady unraveling in all its gut-wrenching agony.

Cumberbatch brings an unflinching intensity, making us ache with each new low the character plummets to. His spiraling substance abuse and unhinged behavior have become impossible to look away from, despite their repulsiveness. Perhaps most impressive is how the actor finds pockets of light even in Vincent’s darkest moments, reminding us of his inherent humanity, however deeply buried. The character’s redemption, when it comes, feels hard-won yet utterly earned due to this grounded portrayal.

Supporting the central tour de force is Gaby Hoffman’s heart-rending turn as Edgar’s mother Cassie. From her first scenes, Hoffman brings Cassie’s fortitude and care for her family alive. We feel her enduring strength chipped away slowly by Vincent’s unraveling and Edgar’s absence. Cassie never wavers from her compassion, even as her situation grows hopeless, thanks to Hoffman’s understated emotional prowess.

McKinley Belcher III is the steady anchor as Detective Ledroit. Battling both personal demons and a corrupt system, Ledroit carries the audience’s hope as he diligently pursues the truth. Belcher breathes empathy and grit into what could’ve been a stock role. His grounded performance lends Ledroit a three-dimensional gravitas as one fighting uphill for justice.

While these roles feel fully realized, some characters fall short of their potential. Cassie’s fraying support system and personal backstory feel underexplored. Marlon’s mother and ongoing racism could also have sustained deeper analysis. Overall, Eric excels at peeling back its players’ layers, but sometimes opts for plot over psychological nuance. Its strengths lie in smashing stereotypes through realistically messy characters who stay imprinted long after the closing credits.

Piercing Social Insights

Eric does not shy away from weighing in on heavy issues. While some shows allude to such topics, Abi Morgan’s miniseries places them front and center. From rising homelessness to AIDS to racial injustices, Eric tackles it all with piercing insight.

The show’s unflinching depiction of 1980s New York rings horribly true even today. Viewers see firsthand how those without housing or means were left to fend for dangerous streets. We understand the city’s corrupt measures that prioritized profit over people. Through it all, Eric maintains its human focus, highlighting real people over faceless statistics.

Similarly impactful is the paralleling of missing persons cases. The disparity between media coverage for a white child versus one of color shows an ugly prejudice that still persists. But Eric does not stop at simply naming injustices. We feel the profound grief and frustration of Marlon’s mother as she fights a broken system. Her impassioned advocacy moves us in its very real rage.

Other storylines, like police corruption and the AIDS epidemic, are handled with equal care. We meet fully-dimensional characters, not just representations of issues. Their humanity grounds even the most troublesome of topics in shared human experience. In this way, Eric finds a meaningful balance. Serious themes are explored without losing personal intimacy.

While some critics note too many plotlines, I felt they knitted together cohesively. Each was both informed and provided the necessary context for others. Far from distraction, their convergences highlighted systematic oppression with stark, striking clarity. Ultimately, Eric pierces the heart with a clarity and care rarely achieved by shows tackling our world’s deepest hurts. It brings light to shadows we’d rather not see, and in that process, it begins guiding us to answers that are harder to win.

Capturing the City in Crisis

Eric immerses viewers in 1980s New York through exquisite direction and craft. From the opening frames, Lucy Forbes pulls us deep into the city’s gritty underbelly. Run-down streets feel startlingly real, from graffiti-lined alleyways to crowded subway stations. Here, a vast urban crisis festers just below the surface.

Forbes finds beauty in the backdrop’s decay. Shadowy noir lighting bathes decrepit buildings and sidewalks choked with unhoused people. Yet rather than depicting them as mere set dressings, each space tells its own desperate story. We view a city choking on inequality, with corruption swelling like a rising tide.

The image perfectly echoes the theme. The show’s raw, grainy cinematography gives an intimate lens to its characters. Shots linger to drive home humanity in even small gestures. Clever blocking places powerless figures literally looking up at those in control. Nothing feels superficial—each frame tells its own chapter in a sprawling dystopian novel.

Perhaps most memorably, splashes of color burst through the grayscale. Searing pinks and oranges bring a lively puppet to life, heightening the surreal. We glimpse a character’s inner wildness, barely contained. Production design pulls double duty here to shed new light on troubled psyches and troubling times alike.

Under Forbes’ exquisite control, Eric weaves its hard-hitting storyline with visual poetry. Viewers become fully immersed in a definitive portrait of a city and era, seen through a lens that is both truthful and beautiful. Technical mastery serves deep themes rather than distracting from them.

Breaking Boundaries with Benedict

There’s no denying that Benedict Cumberbatch is one of today’s most versatile actors, constantly diving into new creative waters. Yet even for him, Eric must rank among his most daring and difficult roles to date. As both troubled father Vincent and his lively puppet, Eric, Cumberbatch transcends expectations at every turn.

Vincent alone would challenge any performer, requiring an uncomfortable nuance between empathy and revulsion. But Cumberbatch immerses us fully, ensuring we feel Vincent’s very real pain beneath his unstable actions. Vincent’s downward spiral rings tragically true, from self-medicating breakdowns to fleeting moments of clarity.

If carrying dual roles wasn’t demanding enough, one is also a giant blue monster. Yet Cumberbatch commits just as deeply to Eric, bringing wit and whimsy that balance Vincent’s darkness. Their scenes together subvert the surreal with raw emotion, as when Eric calls Vincent’s bluff during grief-fueled rants. Across makeup and puppetry, Cumberbatch’s voice infuses Eric with heart.

One can only marvel at his chameleon abilities, disappearing into distinct presences that somehow complement each other. As separate characters, both elicit complex reactions, yet together, they form a more profound whole. Cumberbatch bridges the absurd and the achingly human in a way few could.

Notable is a late sequence where a despondent Vincent seeks comfort at the puppet’s touch. Stripping away artifice, Cumberbatch strips us raw with a display of paternal desperation and loneliness that cuts to the soul. It’s a towering achievement for any actor, let alone one performing two interwoven roles of such depth and dimension.

With Eric, Cumberbatch has handed us a modern landmark—proof once more that with dedication and daring, there are still boundaries left to break. His genius ensures we won’t soon forget the haunting dance between this father and son and the monster who was both more and less than he seemed. It’s a dual triumph deserving of the highest praise.

Weaving Too Many Threads

Eric had all the makings of a gripping drama: a star-studded cast, an unnerving premise, and societal issues woven into its story. But did it bring these elements together cohesively? That’s a more complicated answer.

Beneath its surface, Eric tackled heavy themes with care. The racism, corruption, and oppression faced by many were deftly woven into its mystery. Yet in devoting time to multiple moving parts, the heart of its story was sometimes lost. With so many plotlines introduced, the missing child at its center took a backseat at times.

Characters were often fascinating, thanks to performances that brought them vibrantly to life. But some seemed to branch off without resolution. And the puppet’s comedic presence, while creative, could jarringly undercut the show’s darker tone.

There’s no denying that Eric swung for the fences. Its ambitions were admirable—perhaps too vast for six condensed episodes. But it also hit some home runs. Moments that blended their elements seamlessly, like Vincent’s heartbreaking descent, showed their potential.

Ultimately, Eric bit off more than he could fully chew. But those drawn in by its compelling cast or eager to explore its thorny themes will find much to appreciate. Just don’t expect a tidy story with all loose ends tied. Sometimes the threads became too tangled to follow to the end. But its attempts at starting hard conversations still deserve recognition.

So while it may frustrate rewatches, Eric offers enough glimpses of greatness to merit a watch. Just be prepared for an imperfect but thought-provoking ride.

The Review


7 Score

Eric was an ambitious series that sought to tackle complex social issues and intertwine multiple storylines. However, the dense plot sometimes overwhelmed its character-driven core and muddled the overall experience. With a talented cast and thought-provoking themes, it demonstrated potential. But flaws in balancing its moving parts held it back from fully realizing its vision.


  • Complex exploration of social issues like racism, homelessness, and corruption
  • Strong performances from the leads, especially Benedict Cumberbatch
  • A thought-provoking examination of real-world problems
  • Ambitious scope and interweaving storylines


  • Plotlines sometimes overwhelm the central missing child storyline.
  • The tone was inconsistently light or dark due to the puppet subplot.
  • Underdeveloped characters and unresolved storyline arcs
  • Pacing issues from cramming many plots into a limited episode count

Review Breakdown

  • Overall 7
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