Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kiefer Sutherland's "Touch" off to promising start

Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland, aired a tantalizing preview of the series last week. Sutherland plays a widowed father, Martin Bohm, who has an 11-year-old autistic son, Jake. Bohm struggles to make ends meet while raising Jake, who never talks and spends his days obsessively writing numbers in notebooks and climbing cell phone towers. The cell phone climbing incidents lead social worker, Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to take Jake away from Bohm and to a child care facility.

While Touch could end tragically, Jake starts showing an uncanny ability to predict events through his sequence of numbers, starting with the millionaire lotto ticket. The patterns continue across the globe, touching lives in Japan, Kuwait and India. Danny Glover makes an important appearance in pointing Bohm in the right direction. It seems Jake has a gift and is able to see the cosmic pattern that connects us all, past, present and future.

Touch can be heavy-handed in tugging at heartstrings and can strike some viewers as too sentimental. A grieving father whose only pictures of his dead daughter are on a cell phone he’s lost (which somehow doesn’t have cell phone backup). That one little cell phone also travels the globe from person to person and manages to make a talented but unknown singer an overnight star and saves a boy from becoming a suicide bomber. Improbable? Perhaps, but this show requires viewers to make a leap of faith.

The ending of Touch is a bit rushed. The fireman’s rescue of the children from a doomed bus isn’t shown on camera and the information is relayed to viewers via a news report. Too much time was spent on the wannabe-comedian boy turned terrorist by dire circumstances. That plot thread would have done better later in the season once the introductions were out of the way and the characters established.

Touch is created by Tim Kring and is reminiscent of the pilot of Heroes where people across the globe are miraculously connected by their sudden uncanny superhero abilities. Sutherland gives a moving performance as a distraught father hoping for some meaning to his personal tragedies.

Touch promises to be an interesting show that has the potential to get better as the season progresses. Touch just has to not fall too far into sentimentality and improbable coincidences that seem stretched or forced.
Touch will air at 8 p.m. CST March March 19 on Fox.

For more TV reviews check out my Examiner website.

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