Friday, 20 January 2017

The Listener - Telepathic Paramedics FTW! #FanFridays

The Listener

Telepathic Paramedics FTW!

So Rob and I have been re-watching the last two seasons of The Listener and it makes me wish there was more and I so want to share the love.

The premise is that Toby Logan is a telepath and he uses this gift to help people, but it turns into so much more.

So why do I love this show?
  • The characters are awesome.
  • The cast is brilliant.
  • The plots are entertaining and engaging.
  • The scripts are well written.
  • It kept coming back from the dead.
So first a little warning, the show does kind of change emphasis at least twice. Once after the first season because they got canned and then had to come back and more or less start again. I can only guess that whoever marketed the first season completely failed, because it's a great show and they must have let it down.

They do take into account the first season, which is well worth a watch, so it's not a reboot, but the direction of the show does change, then in season 3 they go up a gear again, which they stick with through to season 5.

The show is also in the same universe as Flashpoint which is also set in Toronto. We know this because Spike from Flashpoint made a cameo in one episode of season 3.

The Characters

Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik)

Toby is our hero with something of a tortured past. As the beginning of season 1 he is a paramedic in Toronto's EMS service who spends a lot of his life trying to hide and ignore his big secret: he is telepathic.

After realising his gift might be able to help people he starts to use it. Over and over he runs into Det. Charlie Marks, who comes to realise his insights are incredibly useful. However, she doesn't fully trust him because she has no idea how he knows what he knows.

Brought up in foster homes, Toby has very little memory of his mother, Maya, or family. All he has are scattered recollections of running from something or somebody, until his mother left him to keep him safe. When Toby's past catches up with him it is dangerous for everyone.

By season 2, however, Toby has left his past behind as well as Charlie Marks. He's using his gift more to have fun than help people because of what happened before. Then, thanks to an amnesiac woman he ends up on the radar of Sergeant Michelle McCluskey and her partner Corp. Dev Clark of the Integrated Investigation Bureau (IIB). After telling Michelle the truth, Toby is taken on by the IIB as a confidential informant.

Then at the beginning of season 3, because of a bank robbery, Alvin Klein, Michelle's boss is also brought into the loop and he sets up a special unit with Michelle, Dev and Toby as a special consultant with Toby taking shifts as a paramedic when he has time (we see this about once :)) to take on the crimes no one else can solve.

Osman 'Oz' Bey (Ennis Esmer)

Oz is Toby's best friend and partner in the EMS. Oz is Turkish and very much involved with his family. He finds out Toby's secret near the beginning of season 1 and, rather than being freaked out, enjoys the opportunities it opens up.

He is funny, loyal and very hard working, although he does seem to manage to get into trouble all the time. He is Toby's rock and treats Toby more like a brother than a friend.

When Toby moves on to helping the IIB, at first Oz is worried, but he continues to support Toby and is kind of thrilled when Toby becomes "a real cop" - even if Toby points out he is a special consultant repeatedly.

From season 2 Oz is in love with nurse Sandy Wardwell.

Dr. Olivia Fawcett (Mylène Dinh-Robic)

Liv is Toby's ex-girlfriend and a doctor at St Luke's where they are all based. She looks out for Toby, especially after he tells her his secret. She is highly intelligent, having chosen to work in the busiest E.R. in town even though other hospitals were bidding for her, and she is very dedicated to saving people.

Liv and Toby's on again, off again relationship finally settles into proper friendship and Liv becomes part of Toby's self-made family.

When he has trouble with his abilities she helps him through it and, like all of Toby's friends, constantly worries about him. Liv is Toby's other rock for as long as she can be.

Det. Charlie Marks (Lisa Marcos)

Charlie is a good cop working for Metro Homicide in Toronto. When she first meets Toby she sees him a a wannabe who is going to get himself into trouble, but eventually she comes to trust his insights, if not him completely.

They repeatedly team up, more by luck than judgement, to solve various cases and help the people of the city.She is dedicated to her job and has overcome her own share of hardships, so she comes to an understanding with Toby.

When Toby's past comes back to haunt him she puts her life on the line the save his.

Sergeant Michelle McCluskey (Lauren Lee Smith)

Michelle has had a meteoric rise to her position in the IIB. As a rookie she managed to catch Magnus Elphrenson, a genius who made off with 50mil in stolen money, who had eluded all other law enforcement agencies. She is humble enough to say it was partially luck, but it boosted her career.

When she meets Toby and he helps her save an informant, she becomes interested in his past with Charlie Marks. She needs because one of her undercover operatives may be in danger and Toby tells her he's a face reader. She uses him on the case and he reveals the truth to her to save lives.

More interested in making sure dangerous criminals cannot hurt people than the letter of the law, Michelle uses Toby's cover story as a face reader to bring him on board, only telling one other person the truth, he partner Dev Clark.

Michelle's personal life is not completely uncomplicated, especially when she runs into her soon-to-be ex-husband, Adam, on a case. They split because of Adam's gambling problem, but Adam has quit now and is running a successful up market bar. There is still chemistry between them and they begin to reconnect.

Michelle's father was also a cop, dishonourably discharged in what looks very like a fit up. She is that most dangerous of police officers to any who would go against her: she is strong, intelligent, honest and she cannot be bought. Threaten her or those she cares about and you will go down.

Corp. Dev Clark (Rainbow Sun Francks)

Dev Clark is a hacker genius with a badge and a gun. Once he was on the other side of the law, but he switch sides and now uses his skills for the IIB after coming up through the RCMP.

He is a geek of the first order and can perform what seem like miracles to mere mortals on computers. Toby might read minds, but Dev has an almost  mystical link with all things electronic.

His skills are invaluable when tracking down suspects, creating efits of the people Toby sees in suspects' heads and tracking down who they might be. He's also handy in the field and more than capable of taking down bad guys away from his desk as well.

Alvin Klein (Peter Stebbings)

Alvin Klein is a lawyer and there to advise the IIB on all things legal. He is also a consummate politician and when he sees the chance to create an elite unit within the IIB he does so.

This is the man with the contacts and he will support his team with everything he has. He knows how to play the game while they get on and catch the bad guys. He smooths over their contact with Metro and other agencies. He calls in the top brass when they are needed. He is basically the fixer.

He trusts Michelle to do the police work while he deals with everything else.

Tia Tremblay (Melanie Scrofano)

Tia is a reporter and Toby's girlfriend as of the end of season 3. They meet on a case and Tia almost manages to get Toby fired, which might not be a great start to a relationship, but Tia has something Toby finds fascinating: he cannot read her at all.

While Toby loves Tia for her sparkling personality, her integrity and her intelligence, he finds the fact he never knows what she's thinking amazing. He's never met anyone who was completely a blank wall before her and he loves it.

When Toby finally tells her the truth it almost breaks their relationship, but in the end makes it stronger. Tia helps Toby with leads she gets through her work and he helps her by giving her the exclusives when the cases break. They make a truly powerful couple.

Adam Reynolds (Kris Holden-Ried)

Adam is Michelle's husband. His gambling problem almost destroyed their relationship, but it is clear they are both still very much in love with each other.

He supports her in what she needs to do and, although their relationship has rocky moments, they become a very solid couple.

George Ryder (Arnold Pinnock)

Ryder runs his ambulance station with an iron fist. He takes no crap from anyone and seems to have a special interest in making sure Oz walks the line. He's tough, but fair, and mostly keeps Oz and Toby from doing anything stupid.

When Oz decides to go for his supervisor exams, Ryder is there to support him all the way and make sure he is very serious about the whole thing.

Sandy Wardwell (Tara Spencer-Nairn)

Sandy is one of the nurses at St Luke's and she is very good at what she does. She also finds Oz adorable.

Her relationship with Oz is sometimes up, sometimes down, but she is always there for her friends and to do her job.

Staff Inspector Brian Becker (Anthony Lemke)

Becker, when he was a Det. Sergeant was Charlie Mark's boss and sometimes partner. He completely blamed Toby for what happened to Charlie.

When Klein is poached by the foreign office for another assignment, Becker becomes the head of the special unit in the IIB. This causes a lot of friction since he doesn't trust Toby at all.

In the end, however, he has to admit Toby gets results and they come to an understanding of sorts: they might not like each other, but they can work together.

Ray Mercer (Colm Feore)

Ray is a psychiatrist who helped Toby when he was first brought to Toronto. He knows about Toby's gift and he knows that Toby was hidden to keep him safe. While he supports Toby's need to help people, he can also see the dangers.

He gives Toby good advice from time to time and helps with a few cases.

Alex Kendrick (Natalie Krill)

Alex is a forensic specialist assigned to the IIB. She can get DNA from sources no one else would even try and she is incredibly good at puzzles. She's also a bit of a geek.

Her and Dev hit it off immediately and have an adorably awkward will-they-won't-they romance while solving crime.

Alex is the best in her field and becomes an essential cog in the workings of the IIB's most successful unit.

The Cast

The cast are a brilliant group of actors. I think Canadian TV is very like British TV in that there are a stable of awesome actors who keep showing up in everything. Even the bit parts do their job well and the main cast are superb.

Ennis as Oz was clearly brought in as the comic relief, but he becomes so much more so quickly. Craig as Toby is very human and plays at being slightly broken beautifully. I loved Lisa as Charlie in season 1 and I have no idea why they wrote her out, whether it was because they were canned so she moved on to pastures new, or they wanted a slightly bigger name in Lauren Lee Smith, but they both carry their parts so very well.

There is no one who lets this cast down - they are brilliant.

They are also diverse with plenty of female characters to balance the guys, and characters of various ethnic backgrounds. This show is not just white guys saving the day.

The Plots

This isn't Lost or The X-Files, it just has a whiff of the supernormal in Toby's abilities. They brought in a bit of Toby's past as an arc in season 1 and they let it linger in the background through the rest, but this is, at its heart a police show with a telepath, and that's what makes it so great.

This is just like Unforgettable or Lie To Me where it's all about solving cases and bringing the bad guys to justice, but with an unusual edge to it. Luckily this one does not go off the rails like Unforgettable did in season 4.

If you like police procedurals you like The Listener.

The plots are well thought out and clever and will keep you guessing, even when seeing flashes of Toby's telepathic reads.

The Scripts

This is a well written show. Yes there is a voice over at the begining of season 2, but I think that was just to make sure everyone remembered what had happened and that everything is new after such a long break.

I did not have to sit and cringe my way through an episode ones.

The geek speak is well thought out and not as incredibly unbelievable as some shows I have watched.

The writers of The Listener know what they are about.

It Rose From the Dead

Whoever marketed the first season was an idiot and it was canned on NBC after only 7 episodes. It almost never saw a season 2, but foreign markets saw it rise from the dead to go on to five seasons. From the way it changed pace again at the end of season 2, I suspect it almost sank there too, but it survived.

I am sure it had a sixth season in it as well, but clearly TV producers are not as forward thinking as I am. I keep hoping they may resurrect it for some reason, but it is a faint hope.

How to Watch

The biggest problem with this show is how to watch it. It never took off in the US because of time slots etc, so they have never released any of it on DVD in region 1 and I'm not even sure the whole show has been shown. The only way to see it is to catch it in re-runs (or y'know Google 'watch the listener' and check out what comes up) because TPTB have yet to release anything except season 1 on DVD and, as I mentioned above, only in region 2. I don't know if it's available on Netflix, but it doesn't seem to be on Amazon Video.

I so wish they would release the rest - I want it badly, especially if they would release on Blu-ray. Since there are 13 eps a season and 5 seasons they could do a box set of the whole show really easily. Why won't they take my money? *pout* If this was a US show it would all be out there by now.

Anyway here are the links to the season 1 DVDs for any who are interested in purchasing them. They are the cheapest in the UK.

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA

Somebody else has to watch The Listener - have you?

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