A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this formulaic drama focuses on paramedic who can secretly read minds. His job brings him into contact with people in difficult situations, and he uses his talent to help them. There's some non-explicit violence and a little flirting, but no strong parental red flags.
What's the story?
Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) has a secret: He can read minds. After spending much of his life learning to control his ability and keep out the non-stop flood of intruding thoughts, THE LISTENER follows him as he tries to tap into his talent and use it to help others. His job as a paramedic brings him into contact with people in trouble, though his partner, Oz (Ennis Esmer), sometimes wonders why Toby takes a special interest in some patients. The cops are just as curious about why Toby seems to show up every time they get a break in their toughest cases.
Is it any good?
What is it with all these telepathic and pseudo-telepathic cop wannabes? There's the guy from The Mentalist, who uses his unerring ability to interpret people's non-verbal clues to help the police solve crimes. There's the deception expert on Lie to Me, who's trained himself to figure out when people are lying and often advises law enforcement agencies. Oh, and don't forget the guy in Psych, who's conned the local cops into believing that his skill at noticing even the smallest details is actually ESP, which he uses to help them crack tough cases. And now there's Toby Logan, who really does have ESP, and uses it to, yep, help solve crimes.
This genre is getting pretty tiresome, and The Listener doesn't do much to freshen it up. The crimes here seem standard-issue, and Logan's flashes of mind-reading insights appear at just the right times to advance the generic plots. The better shows in this club rise on the strength of the acting, since the actual plots are all pretty generic. Simon Baker makes the Mentalist into a dashing oddball who's fun to watch; and who better than cynical Tim Roth to play an ultra-cynical expert on falsehoods in Lie to Me? But Olejnik isn't in their league, and neither is this formulaic plodder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of characters with special abilities that let them see through the lies and deceptions that fool other cops, helping them solve crimes and rescue people in distress. Why is this such a popular twist on the detective genre? How is this show similar to others? How is it different? Does it make a difference that Toby actually does have a special ability?