High-stakes Flashpoint ends season on the cliff


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THERE'S truth to the tuneful old cliché that says breaking up is hard to do.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/02/2011 (4502 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THERE’S truth to the tuneful old cliché that says breaking up is hard to do.

Saying goodbye is never easy. It’s even tougher when the decision to split isn’t yours.

And when the breakup is forced by an uninvolved third party with no real investment in the relationship, well, that’s really too much to take.

But that’s the situation the SRU team could be facing in the tension-filled season finale of Flashpoint, which CTV is airing in the coveted post-Super-Bowl slot on Sunday night (the game’s U.S. broadcaster, Fox, is stunt-scheduling Glee in that spot, but that show’s Canadian rights belong to Global).

As season-ending sendoffs go, this one’s got it all — high stakes, interpersonal friction, a touch of nostalgia, a special-guest villain with a knack for shaking things up and, of course, a stomach-twisting cliffhanger that will make the show’s fans crazy about having to wait months to find out what happens next.

The episode opens with the strategic-response squad in a rare moment of professional down-time; the good news is that there’s no current crisis that requires its special problem-solving skills, and the bad news is the team members have been ordered to go through a series of requalifying drills that will test their physical capabilities and assess their psychological fitness.

It’s the second point that proves to be a bit sticky, because the testing is being conducted by Dr. Larry Toth (guest star Victor Garber), a military psychologist whose confrontational style has earned him a reputation as a “team breaker.”

One by one, the SRU members are seated face to face with Toth, hooked up to an old-school polygraph machine and subjected to a barrage of word-association, situation-recall and deeply personal queries designed to reveal whatever deep-rooted demons each of them is battling.

It’s an intriguing and effective plotline, partly because it allows Flashpoint‘s producers to embark on a casual case-file retrospective, but mostly because it gives Garber — a delightfully gifted song-and-dance man who also happens to be able to play the menacingly creepy villain as well as anyone in the on-screen business — a chance to strut his stuff.

Garber is terrific in this guest appearance, and what’s even better is that the Flashpoint regulars — Hugh Dillon and Enrico Colantoni in particular — are more than up to the challenge of staring him down.

As it bids farewell to its third season, this gripping Canadian-made cop drama delivers all the evidence necessary to justify returning for a fourth.

— — —

Is anyone Listen-ing?: In TV, as it the real world, it’s all about the cycle of life — endings and beginnings, life, death, departure and renewal.

One show ends, another begins — after all, those timeslots aren’t going to fill themselves, you know.

The finale of Flashpoint is followed closely by the return of another homegrown CTV drama — The Listener, which has its season premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Unlike Flashpoint‘s exit, The Listener‘s re-entry isn’t exactly edge-of-the-seat stuff.

The series, which stars Craig Olejnik as Toby Logan, a paramedic with extraordinary intuitive powers (he can “hear” what other people are thinking) that lead him into the realm of crime-solving, has never quite achieved the level of gritty, Toronto-street-level realism that makes Flashpoint so appealing.

Tuesday’s premiere, in which Toby helps solve the case of an amnesiac woman with connections to a corporate-crime whistle-blowing case, never quite finds the kind of believable momentum it needs. Simply put, The Listener‘s return likely won’t win it all that many watchers.

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Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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