Tag Archives: CTV

Review: Mystery lingers in ‘Listener’ finale

There was a definite sense after last week’s episode of The Listener that the finale would have plenty on its hands—the IIB was faced with one stunner of a weekly case while Tia and Oz still had to provide closure to the series’ longest running mystery. While Becker’s storyline offered up a meaty intrigue, things fell a bit short when it came to Toby’s reunion with his mother.

The Rookie Blue fan in me was excited to hear Noam Jenkins would be appearing in the finale as the Becker-thwarting baddie, although his tense posturing quickly tipped me off that we didn’t actually have two dirty cops on our hands, or even one. But the incriminating evidence Griffin (Bruce Gray, All My Children) was able to build up had me wishing this sort of investigation could have gone on for a bigger lead into the finale, especially when Becker had to negotiate how much he trusted his new team with how important it was to protect an old friend. He and Michelle have been getting closer throughout the season, but despite all his talk it wasn’t until this episode that Becker and Toby finally sorted their issues out.

As for Michelle, after the expectation she’d had at the beginning of the season that she would become head of the unit, it was interesting to see how she ran the team once given orders to investigate Becker. Much as I lost most of my respect for Griffin when he dangled that promotion back in her face, at least she finally got her chance to lead before the show wrapped. And I would not have wanted to be Griffin considering her expression after he threatened her family, guaranteeing that however they might stack the evidence against Becker, Michelle wouldn’t just roll over. Of course, with the way things ended Michelle seems to be going a more traditional route by clocking in two months on the road with her family instead of leveraging her big bust—but after four years of high–intensity work, she’s probably earned that vacation. How long she’ll be able to keep herself in vacation mode is another matter entirely.

In fact, even though this has been Toby’s show from the start—he and Oz being our mainstays over the past five years—the finale felt more like it belonged to Michelle, or even Dev and Alex, more than our teal-sporting lead despite the big reveal at the end. What the episode did show us was how far Toby and Michelle have come as a team as he trusted her when she asked him to read Becker (not to mention a few episodes back when she trusted him to read her). Outside the office offered more as Tia, taking advantage of Dev’s open computer, finally found Toby’s missing mother only to be misled into believing she was dead. After all these years, that couldn’t possibly have been the ending, so Maya’s perfectly-timed reappearance in Toby’s life didn’t surprise me as much as it did him.

But instead of offering the answers about why the pair had been split up for so long, or what role The Institute had to play in everything, the two sat down for tea as The Listener rolled to a close—leaving us with some mysteries still unsolved. Given the way the show changed over the years, it’s entirely possible the writers weren’t interested in going there anymore, but without any resolution that half of the conclusion felt more rushed. Even Dev and Alex suddenly and awkwardly admitting their feelings and running off to the dance floor together at least had enough build to it that Alex’s “that took way too long” came from us as much as herself. Then again, in a world where a mind-reading paramedic can end up cracking the nation’s highest-ranking corruption ring, maybe there are only so many answers we can expect.

What did you think of The Listener finale? Let me know in the Comments below!

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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.

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Review: ‘Amazing Race’ missteps in Winnipeg

Darn it! My second favourite Amazing Race Canada team has been eliminated. Yup, former ballet superstar Rex Harrington and partner Bob Hope were jettisoned from Tuesday’s Leg after they arrived last in front of Jon Montgomery in Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The two admitted to being shocked at their final placing–they somehow believed they might have been in third place because they saw just two other teams at the dreaded Roadblock, where one had to dress up like a rock star and belt out a tune none of them (or myself) had ever heard. I was a little surprised show producers didn’t select a tune by the Guess Who for everyone to perform–you can’t get more Canadian or Winnipeg-focused than that–but maybe licensing issues put the kibosh on it.

As for my favourite pair, Meaghan and Natalie, they’re still in the thick of it. Barely. They were the first team to arrive at the Detour box after matching world coins to their corresponding flags at the Royal Canadian Mint (I had no clue that A) the Mint made coins for other countries, and B) the Mint was located in Winnipeg.), but made a stupid–and arrogant–move by bypassing the Fast Forward. Yup, instead of finding missing words in antique painted advertising on the sides of downtown buildings and skipping forward to the Pit Stop, they opted for the Detour challenging them to shoot hockey pucks through five different targets on a goal net. I understand them wanting to show off the prowess that won them Olympic gold medals, but they should have been thinking of the Race. Rubbing their hands with glee, Meaghan and Natalie plowed through the first four targets before getting stuck hitting the target between the goalie’s legs. They could only look on in shock as brothers Pierre and Michel, siblings Sukhi and Jinder and buddies Mickey and Pete completed the challenge and departed ahead of the hockey champs.

Alain and Audrey, meanwhile, had their game faces on. Realizing the Fast Forward was still up for grabs, the went for it. The test proved to be more challenging than they initially thought, but they still placed a respectable second behind brothers Michel and Pierre, who used the Express Pass to skip the singing on the way to a first-place finish.

Next week the teams fly to the Normandy coast of France, where they take some time out to remember the Canadians lost during world wars. I’m really enjoying the producers’ decision to use Canada as the main focus of Season 2 while spending time in other countries too. It’s brought a nice mix to the season so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if CBS tried something similar to keep their own version of the Race fresh.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

What did you think of this latest Leg of the Race? Will you miss Rex and Bob? Comment below to let me know! Follow Greg on Twitter!

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Review: The Listener goes undercover

There was plenty going down in this week’s The Listener—including a revelation that Toby’s extra-aural abilities might be a family affair—but I don’t think I’d be doing the episode any justice if I started with anything other than the amazing undercover outfits the IIB team pulled off on such short notice. After Dev’s wig and stilted lawyer-speak and Michelle’s turn as a car jacker’s winking goth girlfriend, I really wanted Toby’s stint in the big house to stretch on long enough for the whole team to stop by. Maybe Becker in baggy pants and a sleeveless top, or a matching lawyer outfit for Alex?

Understandably, Toby was less keen on that idea after Vince and McManus decided to get proactive about blocking up a leak that was going to foil Borman’s desperate final attempt at freedom—even if he showed off some impressive fighting skills while deflecting the attack. I was expecting a few more moments with The Incredible Hulk‘s Grant Nickalls as Borman, especially after the buildup about him in the beginning, but I guess since he wasn’t actually the mastermind of the coup, Nicole taking centre stage during the interrogations made more sense.

And I did really enjoy watching Michelle and Becker work together on a case again—in part because while she and Toby are a well-oiled savant team, there’s an extra sense of accomplishment between Becker and Michelle when they suss out a secret on their own, or pull off a sting the old-fashioned way. This season, despite taking on another revamp, has done a great job of giving Toby and everyone else plenty to do—building up to what I hope is going to be a satisfying finale for all the characters.

Because what was really hanging over “An Innocent Man” was the sudden news that this was the second-last episode of The Listener, ever. So even as the case of the week added tension and some undercover twists, a part of me was looking for the first signs of closure that next week’s finale should bring. Namely that Alex was back and she and Dev still haven’t made any progress with their not-so-secret crushes on each other’s brains (and, presumably, faces).

Or more importantly, the resolution over Toby’s history with The Institute and the mysterious whereabouts of a mother he’s not all that interested in finding. I know it’s all coming to a head next Monday, but I was left wishing Tia’s mysterious tip would have led to something more. Instead, it seems like Maya might have the same abilities as Toby but is leading a far less risky lifestyle—or at least one that’s seen her successfully stay one step ahead of ominous cable vans in the years since she and Toby split up.

And that’s putting a lot of pressure on the finale for fans like myself who were expecting The Institute’s resolution to play a much bigger role in the show’s conclusion. It’s looking like Toby’s going to have his hands full with internal problems at the IIB along with whatever revelations Tia and Oz bring—and how exactly he’ll handle the news that both his girlfriend and his best friend went behind his back on this after he told them not to is just one more mystery to add to next week’s pile.

The Listener finale airs next Monday at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

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