THE LISTENER premieres tonight at 9pm/8c with two episodes on NBC. Moves to regular timeslot next week, Thursdays at 10pm. Also airs new episodes on CTV and Space in Canada every Thursday.
Summer is very much considered a network television wasteland. The broadcast nets burning off of failed series, airing repeats of various programs, with the occasional new offering here and there.
Recently though, cable has managed to take over the summer spotlight with many of their series scoring big in the warmer months.
That in turn has pushed the broadcast nets to maybe take another look at actually putting in an effort in programming summer. NBC, which really doesn’t have anything to lose and everything to gain at this point, has set up an ambitious summer slate of original programming.
One of NBC’s new series is The Listener. And if NBC can find more shows like The Listener for summer, it’ll be a win-win, more choices for summer TV.
The Listener tells the story of paramedic Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) who has a special gift, he’s a telepath. He’ll catch the thoughts of a girl walking by admiring his good looks or an elderly man wishing he had some extra change, but he tries to set his “gift” aside.
Until one day, the thoughts come rushing to his mind without even trying. In the first episode, he sees a woman in a car accident just a block away.
He doesn’t want to tell anyone about his gift, but he doesn’t hate it and from there, he realizes he can use this gift for good.
“All my life I told myself ‘turn it off, shut it down, make it go away.’ Today I broke the rule, I stopped looking the other way and I saw the truth. This isn’t a curse. It’s a gift,” he says after a long day.
But he doesn’t completely understand this gift. He has flashbacks to his childhood and his mother who had the same gift. He doesn’t want to go mad like his mother did, and seeks the advice of the only person who knows his secret, Dr. Rey Mercer (Colm Feore). With his help, Toby tries to understand this power all while helping people with it.
Toby is joined by his best friend and fellow paramedic Oz (Ennis Esmer) and regularly interacts with his on-again/off-again girlfriend Olivia (Mylne Dinh-Robic), a doctor at the ER.
Using his power helping people in trouble and solving crimes has him often crossing paths with Detective Charlie Marks (Lisa Marcos) who is suspicious of Toby, but will take his help.
The Listener manages to do a good job at balancing the procedural, “case of the week” aspect and the “mythology” of his gift very well.
The mythology doesn’t take over the show, but each episode builds to an exciting climax at the end of the 13 episodes where questions about his gift and his path are addressed.
In the mean time, the cases each week are engrossing enough to keep you tuned in.
The show itself looks and feels great, showing off a lot of Toronto, Canada where it is set and produced. They take advantage of the location and the show keeps a very distinct look from other crime procedurals on primetime.