Oz becomes a mind-reader in new ‘Listener’ online series
Oz Bey may be best-known as the comedic sidekick to telepathic paramedic Toby Logan on “The Listener,” but what would happen if the funnyman suddenly had his EMS partner’s powers?
We’re about to find out with “Switch,” an exclusive online series now available on CTV.ca.
After a freak defibrillator accident sends Toby (Craig Olejnik) and Oz (Ennis Esmer) flying to the ground, Toby’s mind-reading abilities are transferred to Oz.
But while Toby uses his powers to help others and solve crimes, Oz has other things in mind.
“Oz is using his powers for I think the reasons I would use them in my life, which is to cheat at gambling and impress women,” Esmer says with a laugh.
The actor adds he’s had a blast portraying his character as a telepath and tried to take some cues from the expert.
“I never in a million years would ever get to do the ‘Toby Logan eyes’ on the show so that’s been really fun. I’ve tried to work on a couple of different looks for getting hit by flashes or trying to read someone’s mind so it’s been so much fun.”
While Oz is having the time of his life, it’s not as much fun for Toby – especially when the two are tasked with solving a tough case involving a mysterious woman.
“It’s frustrating I believe for Toby,” Olejnik says. “Ultimately I think they get so caught up in trying to solve this case that he’s putting a lot of faith in Oz to help him out and Oz has got different things on his mind . . . I think Oz sees the weight of it but I don’t think he carries it well.”
The six short webisodes were shot over a period of only two days earlier this year at various locations around Toronto, as well as on “The Listener” set.
“Switch,” which serves as a complement to Season 3 of “The Listener,” also features Rachel Skarsten as seductress Kitty Carson. The Toronto-born actress will be no stranger to fans of the show as she also played Oz’s love interest Elyse on Season 2 and 3.
“I said to Ennis, it’s retribution time because the whole time I’ve been on ‘The Listener’ it’s just basically me (chasing) Oz and now I play a character who’s the total opposite of Elyse, she’s a femme fatale and he’s in love with her and she has no time for him,” says Skarsten.
And as much fun as she had playing Elyse, Skarsten says she really enjoyed playing the villain in the web series.
“I think it’s always more challenging to play the underdog because you don’t want them to come across as a loser really, you want them to have a likeability about them but it’s way more fun to play the sexy screen siren who has it all under control and I also end up being evil, which is so much fun.”
Viewers would never buy Elyse as a villain or Oz as a telepath on “The Listener,” but “Switch” director Laurie Lynd says the same rules don’t apply on a web series.
“That’s what’s kind of freeing about these is because it is slightly fantasy, a lot of the logic doesn’t come into play,” says Lynd.
And that’s just what makes it so much fun, according to Olejnik.
“Toby Logan is so straight laced and he’s so contained . . . so I’ve kind of opened the doors a little bit on him and the challenge is to not be cheesy and at the same time not to worry about being cheesy,” says Olejnik with a laugh.
“It’s the live action cartoon version of ‘The Listener.’”
“Switch” webisodes are now available online at CTV.ca. New episodes of “The Listener” air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV, with full episodes available online at CTV.ca.
About Sheri Block
Sheri Block has been covering entertainment for CTV.ca since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!