The Listener: the paramedic who reads your mind

The broadcast on Fox Italy (my country) of this Canadian series was preceded by a lot of advertisement that pointed to the fact that it was a world premiere. Actually “The Listener” was broadcast in Italy and other countries a few days after its Canadian premiere (3 March 2009), but a few months before its premiere in the United States.

I don’t know why, because I’m not generally crazy about the series that have to do with paranormal stuff, but I still found myself watching it from the first episode to the last one in 2014.
The series had as its protagonist a paramedic, Toby Logan (played by Craig Olejnik) with telepathic abilities. Toby could read what was in other people’s minds, whether it was sound, images or words, and because of this talent he found himself involved in solving murder cases.

The first season showed him interacting with a detective, Charlie Marks (played by Lisa Marcos; the first on the left in the last picture), but this was done in an almost fortuitous way, since Toby during his ambulance service was often to intervene where a crime had occurred and read the minds of the victims, before they died, or others involved. Parallel to each case there was a subplot on Toby’s past and the origin of this ability.

I must say that the series was not extraordinary, but I watched it with pleasure, thanks to the setting in Toronto, certainly less famous than others, and the presence of a good cast of little-known actors. Being a Canadian series made it distinctly different from US ones in the way some topics were treated, presenting less clich├ęs and more original elements. The dramatic aspect was then diluted by the presence of an ironic character: Osman Bey (played by Ennis Esmer), called Oz, who was Toby’s colleague in the ambulance. The subplot, finally, was intriguing and pushed to watch the next episode.

After the first season, the series underwent a revolution, because the scriptwriters were replaced and its creator, Michael Amo, stopped working on it.
Instead of finding himself by chance involved in the crimes, Toby was called by an IIB sergeant (from a special investigative unit), Michelle McClunsky (played by Lauren Lee Smith, whom I had already seen in the ninth season of “CSI” and later played an important role in the science fiction miniseries “Ascension”), so that starting from the third season he stopped being a paramedic and began working in the team as consultant. Only a few (though their number was increasing) knew about his ability and officially he was considered an expert of facial micro expressions able to tell if a person were sincere or not.

Because of that the subplot completely disappeared giving way to an episodic trend that made the series become almost procedural. “The Listener” lost its originality, but acquired rhythm and action. The intention was probably to attract a wider audience and seemed to work, since it went on until its conclusion programmed with the fifth season.
In the US, the series didn’t do particularly well, while in Italy was actually the second most watched series on Fox.