Skip to content Skip to footer



Benedict Cumberbatch plays a master puppeteer who loses himself in his work while frantically searching for his missing son in Netflix’s harrowing, peculiar new thriller

Some know him as Sherlock Holmes, others know him as Doctor Stephen Strange, and with this latest project, Benedict Cumberbatch is, in a sense, blending those two career-launching roles. Eric is a drama that finds him unravelling another mystery, Sherlock-style — but one set in a world where the fabric of reality seems to be unravelling, albeit only in our protagonist’s mind.

In Netflix’s new limited series, two-time Oscar-nominee Cumberbatch stars as Vincent Anderson, a well-known puppeteer on the fictional children’s TV show Good Day Sunshine. Also a devoted dad, Vincent finds a new use for his puppets after his young son disappears.

Eric on Netflix. Pictured: Increasingly desperate and delusional after the abduction of his son, Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch) forges an unlikely alliance with the boy’s imaginary monster, Eric.

Created by Emmy-winning writer Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady), the six-episode character study “follows a desperate father as he battles his demons on the vibrant, dangerous and intoxicating streets of ’80s New York in a race to bring home his missing son.” Moreover, as further described by Netflix on its press site Tudum, Eric is “a fantastical story rooted in very real terror. When Vincent’s nine-year-old son, Edgar (Ivan Howe), goes missing while on his way to school one day, the puppeteer’s entire life is thrown into disrepair. Distressed and blaming himself for the tragic disappearance, Vincent finds hope in a drawing Edgar had once created of a large blue monster named Eric, who supposedly lives under Edgar’s bed. So lost in his grief and helplessness, it isn’t long before Vincent comes up with a plan: If he can get Eric on TV, then Edgar will come home.”

And thus begins our hero’s tragic, absurd infatuation with the imaginary Eric.

Eric on Netflix. Pictured: Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent Anderson, a well-known puppeteer on the fictional children’s TV show Good Day Sunshine.

“As Vincent’s progressively destructive behaviour alienates his family, his work colleagues and the detectives trying to help him,” reads the article on Tudum, “it’s Eric, a delusion of necessity, who becomes his only ally in the pursuit to bring his son home.”

Highlighting a terrifying time in New York history, the show is set when the AIDS epidemic was reaching its peak, crime was still on the rise following a string of serial killers in the city during the 1970s and the disappearance of six-year-old Etan Patz helped spawn the “Stranger Danger” movement many still reference today.

Although it has not explicitly been stated that the events in Eric are based on this real-life case, there certainly are similarities. Patz vanished on the way to his SoHo neighbourhood bus stop in 1979, never to be seen again. Despite this hardly being the first child abduction in NYC, Patz’s story became a catalyst for change, prompting discussions around citywide safety, and ushering in new laws aimed at protecting youth.

Eric on Netflix. Pictured: Newcomer Ivan Howe plays Vincent’s missing son, nine-year-old Edgar.

As Patz was one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, his case saw national attention and remained in the public eye until its resolution nearly four decades later when, in 2017, former convenience store clerk Pedro Hernandez was convicted of murdering the child. Patz and other young victims like him are remembered each May 25 (the date Patz went missing) since 1983, when then-President Ronald Reagan proclaimed it National Missing Children’s Day.

Eric, meanwhile, gives viewers an inside look at the trauma, grief and layers of hardship caused by such a tragic event.

“It is rooted in a lot of real-world issues,” Cumberbatch told The Hollywood Reporter, “looking at parenthood, looking at marriage, looking at mental health, looking at the AIDS pandemic, but also the ongoing crises of homophobia [and] of racism in institutions.”

“When Abi first pitched Eric to us, it gave us goosebumps,” executive producers Jane Featherstone (MI-5) and Lucy Dyke (The Split) told Tudum. “It is an extraordinary piece of writing, inspired by Abi’s experience of New York in the mid-1980s, a city rotten to its core but on the cusp of change.”

Eric begins streaming on Thursday, May 30 on Netflix

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Ritatis et quasi architecto beat

Whoops, you're not connected to Mailchimp. You need to enter a valid Mailchimp API key.