Kiefer Sutherland returns to FOX in another heavy show
“I’m 4,161 days old,” says Jake the young protagonist of the new FOX series Touch, which just screened the series pilot prior to a proper March 19 premiere. Jake (David Mazouz) is obsessed with numbers, and uses them to find ways to bring people together. A numismatist like this suggests that Jake is autistic, although the show doesn’t necessary classify him as such, and in many ways Touch (created by Heroes’ Tim Kring) could be Rain Man: The Early Years, except for one choice that would render the show infinitely less dynamic: Jake is mute.
Yes, while he narrates Touch to us, the audience, he is silent to the other characters onscreen, which leaves the burden of carrying the show to Kiefer Sutherland, returning to the network that birthed 24 and reinvigorated his flat lining career. Sutherland is Jake’s overburdened father, Martin, an erstwhile reporter whose wife perished on September 11 and who has been emotionally and professionally at sea ever since (we meet him as a baggage handler at JFK). The actor brings the same combination of determination and sensitivity with which he imbued Jack Bauer during the show’s height to Martin. Jake is a worrisome tyke, between keeping quiet, scaling radio towers and avoiding being physically touched at all costs, and
The pilot, directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine, Water for Elephants), is visually slick but pedantic. King hammers home Touch’s central conceit – we’re all connected! – ad inifinitum, and uses terminology like “destiny” and “the cosmic wheel of humanity” to deleterious effect. In the pilot, Kring relies on the great, if ill-used, Danny Glover to translate Jake’s inner thoughts aloud to Martin, letting him know that his young son recognizes a pattern to the universe, and Touch shows that near, far, pretty much wherever people are, people are unknowingly tied to one another and have a ripple effect on each other’s lives.
Kring’s fusion of science, philosophy and religion also call to mind that of Lost. But that show’s enormous ensemble allowed it be as much about the characters’ evolving relationships as it was about its labyrinthine plot. Touch is a more intimate story, and as a result feels more schematic. Here’s hoping it’s an equation that Kring is able to solve in time.
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