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Canadians continue to listen to The Listener

- July 22nd, 2013

the-listener_promo-poster

In a recent episode of The Listener, a snooty FBI agent visiting from the United States was questioning the seemingly miraculous instincts of Toronto special police consultant Toby Logan.

This got under the skin of Toby’s partner, Sgt. Michelle McCluskey.

Michelle snapped, “This unit has the best ‘solve ratio’ of any federal police agency.”

Good lord … I sure hope so!

Toby can read minds, after all!

Then again, I understand there is that whole burden-of-proof thing that Toby, played by Craig Olejnik, and Michelle, played by Lauren Lee Smith, have to worry about. It’s one thing to know what went on, it’s another thing to have enough evidence to make it stand up in a court of law.

And besides, it isn’t as if a clear 3D movie with surround-sound plays inside Toby’s head. He gets a foggy “read” from people, snippets from their past, that he then has to decipher.

At least, it usually comes across as foggy. Maybe someone just needs to wipe the camera lens.

The Listener, a Canadian crime-solving series with a twist that airs Wednesdays on CTV, is in the midst of its fourth season. It’s not a big “buzz” series, per se, but there is in fact a difference between the buzz business and the broadcast business.

Case in point, The Listener always has been a steady ratings performer in Canada. According to CTV, new episodes of The Listener this season are averaging 1.06 million viewers (not including last Wednesday‘s episode). That essentially is right on par with what the show averaged in its first three seasons. That’s pretty remarkable consistency, actually.

The Listener debuted on both CTV and NBC back in 2009, and NBC yanked it after seven episodes. But sometimes – especially with scripted dramas – Canadians tend to view their own programming with less suspicion if it has been on a big U.S. network, even for a short time.

Either way, the format is consistent and the Canadian audience is loyal.

I find the tone of Toby and Michelle to be sort of refreshing, because their police work isn’t driven by anger, as is the case with so many cop shows. They can be a little blunt and snippy with the people they talk to when investigating crimes, though. Easy guys, you’ve done enough episodes to know that not everyone’s guilty.

If I could change one thing about The Listener, it would be to give a little more time to some of the other characters. It’s a pretty deep cast, with the likes of Ennis Esmer, Melanie Scrofano, Peter Stebbings and Tara Spencer-Nairn, among others. But I get it, The Listener essentially is a police procedural, and an hour (with commercials) gets used up pretty quickly.

Heck, I know people who watch The Listener specifically for Olejnik’s eyes. But Smith’s eyes are pretty special, too, just sayin’. Mind-reading notwithstanding, what criminal has a chance against that dreamy four-eyeball onslaught?

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

What gift would every CFL fan want? Glen Suitor delivers on The Listener

- August 14th, 2012

Glen Suitor and Craig Olejnik

TSN broadcaster and former CFL player Glen Suitor guest-stars in a new episode of CTV’s The Listener this week. In the same episode, the main character gets a new love interest.

Hmmm. Okay, just to be clear, those two developments appear to be unrelated.

The Listener stars Craig Olejnik (pictured above right) as a man named Toby who can read people’s thoughts and now is working for the police. In the episode airing on Wednesday, Aug. 15, Toby meets a pretty crime reporter named Tia, played by Melanie Scrofano, and sparks fly.

Meanwhile, Suitor (pictured above left) appears as himself. After Suitor has a medical emergency and is rushed to hospital with the help of Oz, a paramedic played by Ennis Esmer, Suitor decides to thank Oz with a gift that definitely will get the attention of all CFL fans.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv