Listener

The Listener cast says goodbye

It’s the end of the road for Toby Logan and The Listener gang. After five seasons on the air, the drama–about crime-solving telepath Toby (Craig Olejnik)–signs off this Monday night. The situation is bittersweet for a cast that includes Lauren Lee Smith, Ennis Esmer and Rainbow Sun Francks; after all, the show is closing down after delivering consistently impressive ratings of over a million viewers each week. Still, the cast realize television is a volatile business and though they’d have loved to see the show go on, they’re not dwelling on it.

Monday’s “In Our Midst” sees Toby, Michelle and Dev investigating possible dirty dealings between Becker and disgraced former cop Curtis Maynard (Noam Jenkins). And while the cast were mum on the details, they were more than willing to reveal their thoughts on The Listener, their message to the loyal fans and hinting as to what’s next for each of them.

Lauren Lee Smith (Michelle McCluskey)
Thoughts on playing Michelle

“Michelle has grown so much. Every season there have been these crazy changes and the show has really sort of re-invented itself, which as an actor is really fun to play.”

Message to the fans
“The fans are the reason we’ve had any success. The fans are the reason that we make this show. A giant thank you from the bottom of my heart for watching us week to week for the past five seasons. It’s been an incredible journey with them and without them we wouldn’t have had five seasons of a Canadian show.”

What’s next?
“I’m in Montreal doing a show called Ascension [for Syfy and CBC] where I have a five-episode arc as a really dark, dark, dark character. I have a movie coming out called If I Stay and then Ennis and I are doing a movie called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town. The title alone gives you an impression of what that’s all about!”

Rainbow Sun Francks (Dev Clark)
Thoughts on playing Dev
“Dev is one of those characters that could just go and do his job and be a robot. It was a new skill set for me to play a techie guy, so it took me awhile to get his story and bring out his humanity. It was all about the writing and finding those little moments in myself and having the writers see that and give me some more. It was a really interesting journey with this guy. He turned out to be a really likeable, fun character.”

The importance of Twitter and connecting with fans
“I love connecting with my Twitter friends. It’s so quick. The thing about the 140 characters is limiting but a great thing because it doesn’t allow you to be too long-winded. One we did the live tweeting, or ‘twatching’ as we called it, it really changed the effect of the show.”

What’s next?
“I’m having a viewing party on Monday at my [Toronto] bar, Ravage & Rumble and I encourage anyone to come down. It’s not a giant entertainment space, but it’s a quaint little space on Queen Street West and I’m going to set up a big TV and a projector and we’ll have a last ‘twitch’ together and have a really, really good time.”

Ennis Esmer (Oz Bey)
Thoughts on playing Oz
“This is the first time I’ve been a regular character on a series and it’s made my career, basically. That’s something that I’ve always appreciated. We had great people on the set all the time that kept you honest and reminded you that it was a team effort. I will miss everyone.”

Message to the fans
“I have come to fall in love with every fan of The Listener over the last five years. The FanExpo session that we did last year really made me realize what the show meant to people. I got this email from a girl in Slovenia who emailed me to say she was a huge fan of the show and watching you guys got me through some tough times and you were always good for a laugh. I really appreciated that. Even people who come up to me on the street and say, ‘Wow, you look thinner on the show!’ it’s all appreciated.”

What’s next?
“I’m looking forward to the Oz spinoff that we’re working on right now. It’s called Look Who’s Listening Now. Oz moves to Seattle … well, rural Washington … and he starts up a phone-in therapy chat show. Aaron Abrams is playing the studio manager is a real rough and tumble guy sort of producer who clashes with my dainty, refined sensibilities as an on-air therapist. I’m looking forward to it, and we’re breaking scripts next week.” [Editor’s note: he’s kidding.]

Craig Olejnik (Toby Logan)
Thoughts on playing Toby
“I’ve held on to Toby Logan since the pilot and it ebbs and flows and changes. It is still slowly trickling out of me. I said to my girlfriend, ‘I think Toby Logan is dead!’ It’s like I was possessed of something. [Laughs.]”

Message to the fans
“A deep thanks. Thanks for sticking with us and supporting us and watching us loyally every week and for bumping into us and showing joy for the show. It’s been incredibly rewarding. We do these things in closed sets and environments and to have people come out in your day-to-day life in the grocery store or whatever and tell you that they love the show really makes it all worthwhile.”

What’s next?
“I’m down in California laying my roots here to move on to the next level. Once you’ve been the lead on a show in Canada, the next thing is you gotta come down here to go a little higher and then you can reach another threshold in Canada. We’re lucky to be Canadian and have access to the Canadian and American market. I don’t want to really produce or write or direct or anything like that. I just want to be a for-hire actor.

The Listener series finale airs Monday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Do you have a message for the cast of The Listener? Let them know via their Twitter feed! Follow Greg on Twitter.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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6 thoughts on “The Listener cast says goodbye”

  1. After all is said and done, I still do not know why they have stopped production on The Listener. Has anyone said why this is happening? Were the ratings that bad? I know that ratings in the millions are rare on Canadian fragmented TV but, is that the reason?

  2. Publicly this is the most I’ve heard:
    “Jennings says her(production) company was happy to meet their five-season goal with the show and a new regime at CTV indicated it was ready to move on to other projects. ..She feels cast members, including Olejnik, who has given seven years to the project, are also ready to move on. Olejnik himself indicated as much at the start of this season, ”
    http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2014/08/17/the_listener_wraps_with_fifthseason_finale_monday_at_9_pm.html#

    5 seasons in 7 years is a long run here. Ratings were good but shows tend to get more expensive over time and sometimes creatively people just want to move on.

    1. thank you, Diane, for taking the time to reply. I felt yhis show could have gone on for years, just as Murdoch Mysteries has.

  3. WTF☆★☆WTF★☆★WHY WHY WHY ~ Who’s the wise guy that canceled the show?!?!?
    They know nothing!?!?!?!
    ASSHOLES

  4. Very very disappointed that the Listener was cancelled.
    We have so few good Canadian shows and this is one of the best.
    One has to wonder what logic went into this decision as no real indication has been provided. As usual we have to turn to American programming. So disappointing!!!!

    1. There is never any rhyme or reason as to why Canadian shows are cancelled. The Listener is a popular show as the ratings verify. The Listener found a formula that works and, now, in their stride, they are cancelled. Go figure.

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