First to check off on your 'brand new' list is the supernatural drama The Listener (FX; Fridays at 11pm). The show has been making headlines in entertainment media - but not because of its content. It will be the first US primetime series to premiere abroad, months before American or Canadian viewers get their first peek. Fox International Channels is rolling out almost simultaneous premieres for the series around the world this week, with Hong Kong a few days behind Greece, Italy, Spain (tomorrow) and Bulgaria (Tuesday) but a couple of days before Britain (aren't we special). It is perhaps inevitable, though a little disappointing, that something engineered for global mass-appeal would turn out to be so, well, generic. Produced by Shaftesbury Films in association with FIC, NBC and CTV, The Listener is an hour-per-episode drama about a paramedic, Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik; In God's Country), who can hear people's thoughts. With his partner Osman Bey (Enis Esmer, host of The Toronto Show) for company, Logan struggles to balance his life as a telepathic sleuth with that as an urban twentysomething in an on-again-off-again relationship with an ER doctor. When Logan helps to solve a case involving a friend accused of arson, police detective Charlie Marks (Lisa Marcos) begins to suspect there is more to him than meets the eye. The Listener treads a formulaic path; the hero with superpowers, a goofy sidekick and a couple of potential love interests. Olejnik plays Logan so clean cut and glowingly good that even the flashbacks to his 'troubled' youth as an orphan fail to give him much of an edge. In fact, everyone on the show is so damn nice even the criminals have a crisis of conscience at each episode's climax. Stick with Dexter or The X-Files if you want something dark and shocking; try Life, Psych or Chuck if you want some comedy with your crime-fighting. If you are in the mood for the unequivocally 'pleasant', tune in with the rest of the world and the folks in North America will be checking your TV blogs for spoilers, for a change. Another show that has attracted more than the usual amount of media attention is Underbelly (Fox Crime; Tuesdays at 10pm). Those of you from Australia may remember the Melbourne gangland killings between 1998 and 2004. Based on a book written by The Age journalists John Silvester and Andrew Rule detailing the deaths and investigations, Underbelly is a 13-episode fictionalised account of the events, beginning with the brutal shooting of a man at a house party. The person who pulls the trigger is Alphonse Gangitano (Vince Colosimo), otherwise known as the Black Prince of Lygon Street, the guy he kills, an acquaintance who owed him a small sum of money. Thus begins the ricochet of retribution murders and double-crossings that will result in 34 deaths. Gangitano's cohorts - the Carlton Crew crime syndicate - are introduced in the first episode. Among them are corrupt lawyer Mario Condello (Martin Sacks, pictured, left, with Colosimo), drug-dealing siblings Jason and Mark Moran (Les Hill and Callan Mulvey), their father, Lewis (Kevin Harrington), and Jason Moran's apparently harmless and half-witted driver, Carl Williams (Gyton Grantley). While the two main police characters are composites of members of Task Force Purana, which was involved in the actual investigations, the Carlton Crew and many other underworld characters are portrayed using their real names. Two days before the Australian premiere of the show in February last year, a supreme court judge called prosecutors and defence lawyers together with concerns about whether the show would prejudice the jury in the trial of Evangelos Goussis, who was accused of killing Lewis Moran. The Nine Network was ordered to hand over tapes of all 13 episodes to the Victorian Supreme Court. The network compromised by refraining from broadcasting the series in the state of Victoria and on the internet. If Melbourne's dark side doesn't appeal, head north to the Tropic of Capricorn (BBC World News; March 7 at 4.10pm) with Simon Reeve (below), a British author known for visiting places that are off the beaten track. Reeve has the dubious honour of having penned the first book about Osama bin Laden's involvement with al-Qaeda. The New Jackals was published in the US three years before 9/11, after which Reeve was dubbed a 'terrorism expert' by The Guardian. Eight years later, Reeve is making a name for himself as a travel-documentary maker. While the programme is a far cry from the heavy investigative writing found in his book, Reeve's thoughtful narration and unassuming on-screen presence on Tropic of Capricorn elevate it above the usual shock-driven TV travelogues. The four-part series covers his journey through southern Africa, Madagascar, Australia and South America, crossing the Andes and the Namib, Kalahari and Atacama deserts.