TV Review: Tony Nunes reviews the new Fox series Touch
"Touch" is a show centered on the idea that everyone in the world is in some way or another connected by a greater force beyond our comprehension. Sounds too ambitious for a cable series, yet, somehow the new Fox series pulls it off. Fox previewed the pilot episode this past week with plans for the show to begin its actual run on Monday March 19th. "Touch" stars Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm, the father of a young autistic boy who has the incomprehensible ability to actually see and calculate the connections between all people.
Tim Kring, a show-runner best known for his superpower drama "Heroes" is the creator of "Touch." In many ways these two shows are built on the similar theme of superhuman powers and the affect those powers have on the families of the powerful. "Touch" is more thoughtful and uplifting than "Heroes" was, but both involved a young child with an inherent ability to tap into technology.
In "Heroes" it was Micah, a technopathic boy with the power to mentally manipulate and hack into electronics. In "Touch" it’s Jake, a young autistic boy who can, for reasons not yet revealed, read and predict cell phone patterns. The cell phone is the tool of Jake’s disability, a tangible connection to the numbers and patterns he obsessively predicts and strings together. "Touch" bases this idea on string theory, the mathematical and all encompassing model for everything. Sounds heavy I know, but like I said, the show makes it work through its cleverly compassionate construction.
In an informative prologue full of wondrous visuals, Sutherland explains String theory. String theory entertains the notion that everyone is connected by a thread, an idea reliant on fate and purpose. The prologue stands to compare Jake’s abilities to Fibonacci’s Curve, a mathematical principle that suggests the complex nature of inter-connectivity. Jake takes these ideas and formulas and builds complex patterns that lead people to find or connect with other people at precise times and locations.
Perhaps the reason it all works so well is Sutherland’s Martin, a character that centers the entire narrative around a devoted father who has given up everything for his child. The anguish of a father who is unable to communicate with or even touch his child is painstaking. When Martin finally realizes the amazing gift his son has to connect people through codes and numbers, he is finally able to make a connection with his son. Sutherland plays the part well, and strays from overdoing it.
The shows narrative weaves in and out of a number of very different stories that all connect in the end. Jake and Martin’s path to a connection plays out with similar turns as Jake’s codes lead his father to connect on multiple occasions with a firefighter who tried, but failed to save Martin’s wife on 9/11. The addition of a 9/11 subplot is a risky one, but so far was not overplayed in the first episode.
It was nice to see Danny Glover in a small roll as Professor DeWitt, the head of the Teller Institute. The Teller Institute is a home based center for those with the ability to decode the inter-connectivity. Perhaps DeWitt himself can decode like Jake can. It’s yet to be seen, as is the reason for Jake’s ability and how it all really works. I’m interested to see where "Touch" goes from here, and hope it doesn’t fall into the pattern of overdoing high-concept television like "Heroes" did.