Monday, June 22, 2009

“The Listener”: Don’t Be A Watcher

In my desperate attempt to fill the void as many of my favorite shows are off for the summer, I’ve been watching a lot of new shows that are airing as summer replacements. There have been a few good shows like ”Raising the Bar” on TNT and ”Royal Pains” on USA, but there have also been a few shows worth missing. One of the latter is ”The Listener”, currently airing Thursday at 10:00 PM ET on NBC.

The series is an export of Canada, having already aired on CTV earlier in the year. It is a drama about a paramedic, Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik), who has the ability to listen to people's most intimate thoughts. Toby did not know his father and spent much of his young life in foster homes. He has kept his special skill a secret, but an old friend and counselor Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore) knows about it, and he later confides about it to his ambulance partner Osman "Oz" Bey (Enis Esmer). The show is set in the streets of Toronto, and I actually find that very enjoyable, as Toronto is a city I used to visit quite often and always enjoyed myself there.

But, the show gets dull and repetitive when Toby’s skill becomes a one trick pony. The supporting cast also doesn’t inspire interest. Toby frequently provides tips for solving a crime to the attractive Detective Marks (Lisa Marcos), with Toby often later telling her "she’s" wrong about the person or the lead he’s given her only after he has read or re-read the suspects’ minds. Personally, I wouldn’t listen to the guy after being jerked around so many times, but Marks continues to do so, being somewhat intrigued, yet the same time suspicious about Toby. It has already gotten old. Likewise with the “dance” he is doing with his former girlfriend Olivia (Mylène Dinh-Robic), who is an E.R doctor. His friend “Oz” wants to use Toby’s gift to pick up girls, now that Toby has confided his secret skill to him.

Toby wants to help others with his skill, but so far, the scenarios seem repetitive and there is nothing that is creating any real interest with Toby’s past. Craig Olejnik does an adequate job in his role, but I have to say that somehow I an distracted by how “pretty” he is and how his hair looks almost too perfectly coiffed. There is also a CSI Miami-like warm orange light that seems to be shining on everyone, as if the color saturation is turned up a little too high. Of course, they take the color in the other direction when Toby reads someone’s mind, with the colors seemingly looking cooler and washed out. I guess Toby’s brain can’t see in full color when he “listens.”

This show is probably OK for you if you are looking for something to just fill the void and you just can’t find anything else better to watch. In my opinion, it is a notch better than watching reality TV, but that is not saying much, seeing that I consider reality TV the lowest on the totem pole, just above paid infomercials. I would love to see a crime show based in Canada, but “The Listener” just isn’t the one I was hoping for.

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