‘The Patterns never lie:’ ‘Touch’ has a good start

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By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer

“Touch,” the new series by Tim Kring (“Heroes”), requires a pretty big leap of faith. It’s an incredibly high concept and has moments that are hard to believe.

Kiefer Sutherland returns to TV after eight seasons of playing Jack Bauer on “24,” one of the most popular and well received shows on TV. He plays Martin, a former reporter who lost his wife on 9/11 and now works at an airport. His son, Jake (David Mazouz), is believed to have autism.  He is mute and withdrawn, and cannot tolerate even being touched. He also climbs a cell phone tower every day at 3:18.

Jake keeps a notebook of what appear to be random numbers, and he likes taking apart cell phones and saving random people’s lives all around the world—you know, just your average 11-year-old boy. After his third trip up the cell phone tower, a social worker (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is sent to investigate the apparently unsafe environment.

“Touch” is a difficult show to explain. Kring, who just began to explore new-age concepts in “Heroes” before it went down hill, lets it come out in full force here. It’s all about destiny, fate and a “road map” that Martin must follow for his son. Danny Glover makes a brief appearance and explains the patterns that make up the show. “Every thing and everyone connects to each other,” he tells Martin.

The show hops around the globe, from New York to Ireland to Japan to Afghanistan, and at times it can get a little crazy. It’s easy to lose track of the many characters if you don’t pay attention. That’s one problem with “Touch”—it has big ambitions and sometimes reaches too far.

Another big problem with the show is the way some of the improbabilities are handled. I have no trouble with suspension or disbelief, but how does a New York social worker find time to concentrate solely on one client and run around all of New York City with Sutherland trying to save people?

But there are also some truly touching moments found in the show. Most of them come courtesy of Sutherland, a truly gifted actor, who plays beautifully off Mazouz. Their father/son relationship is the heartbeat of the show. It’s tempting, I’m sure, to compare Martin with Jack Bauer. There is a scene about five minutes into the show where Martin takes a punch and crumbles. He’s just about as far from Jack Bauer as possible. Sutherland, playing against that persona, is able to prove yet again that he is one of the most reliable actors on TV.

Bolstered by a heart felt and surprising performance from Sutherland, “Touch” is a very interesting conceptual show that hopefully won’t suffer the same fate as Kring’s “Heroes.” Wednesday was the special preview of the season premiere (which can be viewed again online), while the show will find its actual series premiere on March 19 on FOX.

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