Off the mark: ‘Touch’ disappoints
In the two years since “24” ended, audiences have been anticipating Kiefer Sutherland’s triumphant return to television. The time has finally come with the new FOX series, “Touch,” and well, it leaves a lot to be desired. The show has a lot of heart and is certainly unique, but its good points are lost on the too-broad focus of the episodes.
“Touch” operates on the premise that everyone is somehow connected – a person’s life is affected when it touches someone else’s. Jake Bohm is a mute autistic boy who has the ability to see these connections, which he expresses through numbers. Sutherland plays Jake’s father Martin who finally understands his son’s obsession with numbers and now must facilitate the connections between complete strangers that his son predicts.
Each episode features a new set of characters whose lives are meant to touch. The story jumps from character to character, establishing each one’s personality and motives. Martin will receive a number from Jake, figure out what it means (for instance, a series of digits will be a phone number), and meet with one of the characters. The rest of the episode will show how that meeting affects everyone else.
Therein lies the problem – too much emphasis is placed on characters who will never be seen again. It certainly is interesting to see how the characters’ lives are connected in the end, but with all of the focus going to the guest stars, not enough attention is paid to the main cast. Danny Glover plays an advisor to Martin, but he only appears on screen for a few minutes per episode. Likewise, Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s role as Jake’s social worker is limited in the first two episodes to threatening to take Jake away from his father and marveling over his abilities. Each episode introduces about five new characters – why not cut it to three? The touch concept would still be effective, and enough attention could be paid to every character.
Sutherland inspires great emotion playing a father desperately trying to connect with his son by connecting everyone else. David Mazouz also shows talent for his realistic portrayal of an autistic boy. It is a shame that not enough time is given to building the father-son relationship.
“Touch” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.
Sean Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org