TV

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

5th season of 'The Listener' features 'a new boss, new baby and a new bar'

  • Print

Every TV series evolves over five seasons. "The Listener," however, has gone through more changes than a set of quintuplets.

The CTV drama, about a special forces cop who uses his intuitive powers to solve tricky crime cases, returns for a fifth season on Monday.

It wasn't always so easy to describe lead character Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik). Even in the new press kit, he's called a "telepathic former paramedic." This new season, we are told, is all about "a new boss, new baby and a new bar."

The new boss is really an old boss, Insp. Brian Becker (Anthony Lemke). He's returning to the Integrated Investigative Bureau (IIB) after a four-year absence. He's not exactly Toby's biggest fan, still blaming him for the death of his police partner and never sure what the deal is with his crime-fighting "spidey-sense" — even though Logan is now a full-fledged and trained police officer.

The new baby belongs to Sgt. Michelle McCluskey (Lauren Lee Smith), on maternity leave from the IIB as the season starts. She's also now married to Adam, played by Kris Holden-Ried ("Lost Girl").

The bar belongs to Osman (Oz) Bey, played by Ennis Esmer. When the series started, he was Toby's best friend and good-natured paramedic partner. Now he's switching careers from hospital administration to bartender/owner of the popular gastropub Pasazade.

It's on the large and modern Pasazade set — housed in the new home of "The Listener," Toronto's mammoth Pinewood Studios — where the cast and producers have gathered to promote season 5.

Esmer is literally working the bar. The 35-year-old points out that only one of the many bottles of liquor behind the bar contains real booze — and he knows which one. A native of Turkey, he also recommended the west-end Toronto caterer who had Turkish delight spread out on the bar for visiting reporters.

Canadian TV actors tend to have comedy mixed with drama in their resumes — it's their only way to make a living. Esmer definitely plays both sides of the fence, training at Toronto's Second City and stand-up comedy clubs, hosting the short-lived local music/variety series "The Toronto Show" and eventually specializing in comic relief roles on dramas such as "The L.A. Complex." He's received more attention for his role in last year's indie production "Sex After Kids."

An ever-changing role and a schedule on "The Listener" allowed Esmer to juggle his day job with these other projects, including one stint as comic co-host (with Jonathan Torrens) of "Wipeout Canada." He hopes this left turn into the bar is a "Listener" move that will stick. "I'm basically in 'Cheers,'" he says. "It's great."

His character has always been a little detached from the show, he says. "It's like this soft science-fiction police procedural," he says, "and then I'm in, like, a little bar comedy."

The Shaftesbury producers put the new bar set to good use this season. Toronto's brutal winter forced the cast and crews back indoors as scenes were rewritten to escape the snow. As a result, season 5 finds several cast members sorting out their police and private life back at Oz's bar.

Executive producer/showrunner Peter Mohan — whose own credits range from gritty cop shows like "The Bridge" to genre shows such as "Lost Girl" and "Blood Ties" — says having a versatile actor who can juggle drama and comedy is a big plus on "The Listener." He finds Esmer "can hit the dramatic beats that bring tears to your eyes and two seconds later he can be wickedly funny and goofy and hilarious. When you've got a resource like that you use it to the nth degree."

Mohan says the light touch brought by Esmer and others helps "The Listener" not become "as earnest as Canadian stories sometimes do." Allowing his drama "to be goofy and let some air into the thing" is what Mohan believes keeps bringing viewers back to "The Listener" — no matter how many times cast members switch jobs or CTV switches time-slots.

———

Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google