‘Touch’ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 10:50 am,

Kiefer Sutherland and David Mazouz Touch FOX Touch Series Premiere Review & Discussion

With the premiere of Alcatraz under its belt, FOX can now ready its second highly anticipated midseason premiere with Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland. Given the idea comes from Heroes creator Tim Kring, and also counts Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover among its cast, there is a considerable amount of anticipation and curiosity surrounding this new program.

The pilot, written by Kring and directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) is a kind of metaphysical exploration of what connects us not only to each other, but also to the world at large. And in order for Kring to make the statements, and deliver the kind of message Touch is intended to carry, he has chosen to expand the dynamic of the program to a global scale. While also keeping the central story elements confined to a small group of characters who may unwittingly be in the company of a young boy capable of unlocking the mysteries of chance and fate that determine so much of the population’s daily lives.

Sutherland stars as Martin Bohm, an overworked, single father struggling to understand his son Jake (David Mazouz), a special child whose gifts and abilities have led him to be possibly misdiagnosed as autistic, when he may actually be far beyond the comprehension of modern science. Jake is special because he is somehow able to access the unseen layers of the world that surround all of us. But, for whatever reason, the boy is either unable, or unwilling to make use of it himself – so it is up to Martin to make sense of that which Jake sees and take action where his son is unable.

As the episode begins, we are introduced to Jake via voiceover (since that’s arguably the only way we’ll ever hear him speak), where he acts as both narrator and omniscient observer who has tasked himself with the responsibility of protecting those lacking his foresight – the catch is that Jake’s “protection” comes in the most cryptic way possible.

Because Kring has chosen to give Jake voice in the opening and closing segments of Touch, and because Dr. Dewitt (Danny Glover) insinuates that Jake is not actually autistic, but has evolved beyond the need to communicate verbally, there is an odd disconnect with his character wherein the boy simply becomes a bit of recalcitrant software ready to revolutionize the world, but lacks any sort of backwards compatibility to make it useful.

The initial hook of Touch is that Martin is dangerously close to losing Jake to the governmental powers that be, not because he’s a bad father, but because his son is constantly running off to climb a cell tower at 3:18 every afternoon. It’s oddly reminiscent of the water tower scene in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, except that Jake is not a good-natured boy that simply lacks the capacity to understand the danger of the situation; he’s positioned by Kring to know exactly what he’s doing, because he knows more than anyone else in the show.

Yet, despite Jake’s incredible abilities, and his father’s clear devotion to him, social services representative Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Undercovers, Larry Crowne), still insists that the boy be cared for by the state.

If this set up makes it sound as though Touch is exceedingly maudlin, it’s because it is – a fact Kring readily admits to when discussing the program. However, the question then becomes: how much sentimentality can be layered into a single episode before it becomes too much?

The pilot begins sowing the seeds of connection at its most tenuous point: a chance telephone conversation between Martin and a British man looking to reclaim the very phone Martin is using during their conversation. Given the urgency in his voice, and his need to recover a photo of a girl on the phone leads the viewer to immediately think this guy is a creep – though we soon learn that our sympathies should be with him, not our doubt.

From there, the connections are spread across the planet. We are taken from New York, to Ireland, to the Middle East and back to New York – all with little idea of how things will come together. Although the show’s ambition is clear, the mode of connection struggles to make sense in the real world.

An Irish singing hopeful, a father in mourning and an oven-seeking youth are brought together by one of the clumsiest plot devices in recent memory. Apparently, videos do not get uploaded to the Internet via YouTube, or some other content aggregator, but are shared with millions of people by sending the actual phone from one corner of the globe to another. And that is the first of many frustratingly convenient storytelling techniques utilized in Touch to get from point A to point B. It doesn’t really matter if any of it makes sense, as long as the end result feels really good.

If we forget the near-impossibility that the phone(s) end up in the hands of non-apathetic people or those who actually get the gist of paying a phone forward, the notion is, of course, to introduce the audience to this week’s character with whom we will be asked to share an emotional connection.

While part of the attraction to Touch will certainly be how the ancillary characters connect back to Jake and Martin week after week, the real test will be whether or not the show’s creators can refrain from turning up the volume on the schmaltz to the point that it becomes kitsch – as it was near the end of the pilot episode. How much sympathy is expected for a young man that is talked out of committing mass murder because a stranger might be able to supply him with a new oven?

David Mazouz Touch FOX Touch Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Thankfully, Sutherland’s performance is strong, and is the true core of the episode. Martin’s desire to share some kind of moment and connection with Jake is palpable enough to keep even the most hard-hearted individual interested. It’s hard not to respond when Sutherland springs to action based solely on the faith he has in his child. Since fans have gotten used to seeing the actor scramble against the clock to save the day in 24, it won’t take too much to imagine this new role will attract a similar kind of audience.

As the series progresses, hopefully Glover’s Dr. Dewitt will develop into something more than just a decoder ring for Jake’s confusing behavior. Presently, his appearance in the pilot was little more than a cameo that, like Jake, served only to progress the plot and offered little in the way of a tangible character for Sutherland to interact with.

Touch (the pilot, anyway) is undeniably well made from a technical standpoint – a fact likely owing to Lawrence’s experience on films. Whether that level of polish will stay when the series goes weekly, remains to be seen. Beyond the sheen, however, the series asks a lot of its audience in the way of suspension of disbelief and suspension of excessive eye rolling. Some will certainly feel played upon by the incessant tear jerking, and tune out, but it’s a good bet many will find the show to be an appealing alternative to the less hopeful programs airing elsewhere.

Added to the fact that Sutherland and Glover are household names, the series is likely going to develop into a safe-haven for feel-good storytelling, a combination that will likely turn Touch into a hit for FOX.

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Touch officially begins Monday, March 19 on FOX.

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45 Comments

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  1. What?

  2. You missed the point of the show. It is the number. Check out number 9 and the ratio number that is at the heart of this. I’m not going to tell you thr ratio, youneed to find it yourself. Hint, fractals, mandelbrot set.

    • 23 is the ninth prime number the smallest odd prime that is not a twin prime

  3. Wow, I think you were expecting something else?

    I was billed as a drama and it had drama. Not car chases, not superheroes, and no time travelling killers on a weekend furlough of killing and confusion. It was a drama about the interesting connections between people and how these connections can have meaning beyond what we know.

    I thought was very intelligent and well-made and reminded me of Kring’s first episode of Heroes.

    It is there that I want to critique. Kring made a wonderful first season of Heroes and it all fell apart after that. I know this will be a hit and will go a full season but I don’t think Kring knows how to tell a story for the long haul. He needs to either accept an ending point and wrap it all in a thoughtful and emotional bow or we might see the same unravelling of plot points we saw with Heroes.

    I know a lot of people are expecting a Jack Bauer, but some of us have known Keifer Sutherland as an accomplished actor who has played a lot of roles over the years and Touch is just another great role.

  4. WILL WATCH the great show ,that writer, who did lousey job critiqueing, for which he got paid for, seems to have missed. Besided weathermen, they are the only paid people who can carelessly, randomly, and consistently be wrong, and still keep their jobs. Too bad, He is either not good at his job, or does not understand this great new show. Either way-go away and let us enjoy it.

  5. I was skeptical at first, but the show quickly erased any doubts with strong acting by Sutherland & Co., tight direction, and an engaging story. It probably helped the connection for me by having a son who is also Autistic. I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here.

  6. Wow, how did I miss this show. I’m going to have to find the pilot somewhere and add it to my DVR.

    • Im looking forward to March 19th. Think it’s too long to wait, but even my young daughter enjoyed this and previewing the next episode she is excited to see what happens next. The small bit of narration is strong enough to set the tone and suck you in. So far, great cast of actors, story line. And yes, the kid that only needed an oven for his family was very believable. I thought it was engaging and suspenseful, not to mention a relief from watching the endless barage of police and hospital dramas.

    • They said you could watch it online on Fox if you missed it.

      • That’s good. When I get home, that’s one of the first things I’ll look into.

  7. We really enjoyed it.

    Did anyone catch Southerland’s “DAMMIT!” near the beginning of the ep? A nice little nod to 24, I hope. :)

  8. Heroes didn’t fall apart because of Kring. The second season was pretty strong. The reason it fell apart was because of the Writers Strike. That is what hurt the show.

    • Season 3 and 4 weren’t affected by the strike at all and were far worse than anything 2 tried to bring to the table.

    • The second season is pretty bad actually. The show suffered from piss poor writing after season 1 (even though for me, it got better in volumes 4 and 5).

  9. Great write up!

  10. Oh, it was okay… I did expect it to be better. I wish it had been more confusing…

    • Oh ladi da. Sorry you were too smart for this move.

      • Wanting a show to have a more complicated (and probably therefore, more interesting, and of higher quality) storyline isn’t a bad thing.

  11. Loved it! I am not a fan of 24 and never understood the fanfare for it. However, I enjoyed Kring’s story and am hoping that the rest of the season will be as enthralling. It is nice to have a tv show that leaves you thinking about life and all the mysteries surrounding it. The ‘red thread’ concept is entertaining, to say the least…..

  12. Well to put it in a simple manner seeing Kiefer Sutherland kicking ass in 24
    and in this show watching him getting punched was definitely not a nice moment but also in some way proved that this is gonna be hell lot of different than 24.

  13. The acting was good but I couldn’t get past the utter stupidity at every turn. Did anyone not know instantly when Sutherland put that phone down on the conveyor belt that it would get carried away? Is it possible to think for more than one second without realizing the complete absurdity of “going viral” by physically passing a phone to a stranger?

    Everything about the show turned on painfully obvious contrivances. After about 20 minutes I just couldn’t take any more. Maybe they’ll come up with some interesting stories for these characters, but they’re going to have to do a lot better than this.

  14. Wasn’t sure what to expect from this but DVR’d it just for the heck of it. Glad i did. It was a brilliant and beautful pilot. Kiefer was fantastic, definitely a different character than Jack Bauer. Yes the phone passing was a bit over the top but who cares, the scene with the dad seeing his baby girl again is just beyond words to describe. Watch it if you haven’t had the chance.

  15. It was entertaining, but if you’re going to do a fantasy piece then at least make it probable. It’s difficult enough to buy the same premis on Person Of Interest where a mega computer connects strings, but a kid doing the same thing….Tough to swallow. I’ll watch a couple more, but not sure I’ll hang on to long

  16. The show is very gorgeous, visually. The music is really nice. The acting is good. And I like what the show is trying to do, I like how it’s trying to bring together this theme of connectivity with characters all around the globe. But the writing in the pilot is really just not good. And this is coming from someone who loves the first season of Heroes.

  17. Wow pretty harsh review.. Only harsh review I’ve seen yet. Everyone else seems to love it and rightfully so. Very good show and i absolutely loved it. It’s actually smart and well made. I don’t care of it’s hopeful or deep dark despair i enjoy both as long as it’s good and Touch is very very good. It’s right up there with Person of Interest as best new show of the season. certainly better than all the craptastic comedies that came out this year.

    • Well obviously not everyone loves it if this review and several comments on it are negative and (rightfully) point out what’s wrong with it.

    • Kiefer will have to turn back into Jack Bauer for it to have the same impact as P.O.I. Otherwise I think it’s going to be like that old 80′s series Touched By An Angel where they just keep pulling what seems like miracles out of the air…

  18. It’s kinda too soon for Kiefer Sutherland coming back to TV

  19. I absolutely fell in love with jacob he’s amazing, and it Kind of reminded me of the movie Crash, I love how everything is eventually connected, and People need to realize that its the VERY first episode GEEZ give it time people . . .

  20. This series is going to SHINE. it is a shame that everybody looks for the negative aspects instead of the positive influence it is meant to have. Please don’t slam a tv show that will actually be something that brings all of humanity together. We need it!

    • I have a great idea that you can ponder over. Maybe people who don’t like the first episode, genuinely don’t like it! Maybe it’s not that we’re looking for the positive, but that you’re undermining other opinions with a sweeping generalization because they don’t fit your own! Maybe, just maybe.

      And I know that I appreciate what the show is trying to do (I can’t speak for anyone else of course), and I want it to be really good. But the writing in the first episode does not have me convinced at all.

    • If the human race is relying on this show to bring us all together, then we are doomed. DOOMED!!!

      • Wow!! Putting alot of preasure on a fictional show there. Lets just all get back to watching jersey shore so we really can make a difference in th world.

  21. Excellent first show. Hope they can continue with such a marvelous story line!

    As an idle question, does anyone know what kind of lamps there are in the son’s bedroom?

  22. I finally watched this on-line last night. I was thoroughly impressed. I didn’t know what to expect with Keifer Sutherland since I’m so used to his Jack Bauer acting, but he was excellent as a really emotionally-beat father who is desperately trying to connect with his son. I liked how all the stories were connected and the message left of Sutherland’s phone was a very unique twist to the story. I did think the phone being passed around seemed strange and unlikely. I also wondered why the guy hadn’t downloaded the pictures in a year. I know my phone automatically uploads the pictures to my Cloud Drive and then every so often I connect it to the computer and download my photos and videos. Still, even with the logical thinking errors, I enjoyed this show.

  23. I finally got to watch this on Fox.com, and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to more episodes.

  24. wow i think touch it will be like wonderful movie ,do u remember some other person when they have seen 24 first part ,they weren’t satisfied but changed their mind ,i was waiting for touch and now i love to see other
    episode ,have fun and enjoy

  25. The background story of the social worker and Jake –

    It’s weak and wrong.

    And I’m saying this because I was a foster mom for several years and I understand the system. Per episode 1, Jake ran away from his SCHOOLS, not from his father. This is why his father kept putting him in different schools. No social worker in his right mind would take a child away for that reason. They would commend the father for being proactive.

    The social worker would also see that Jake has a very nice home with plenty of clean clothes and lots of food. No social worker in his right mind would take a child that is being cared for so well.

    Also, condemning the father for seeking work (even though it meant changing jobs quite a few times) that allows him to spend more time with Jake is unheard of. No social worker would do that. They would commend the father for doing what he needed to both be gainfully employed and for financially doing what was necessary to support his son, and for doing what he could to be more available for him.

    Also, the whole thing about communicating with numbers… This is fascinating. The courts eat this kind of stuff up. If it was presented to the court that a non-communicative child was able to communicate in a different fashion – no matter what that fashion was – the court would be thrilled! They might even order that a special tutor be found to work with the child to encourage this communication. And, if they knew that the only person he communicated in this way with was the father, they would demand that the child have as much contact with the father as possible.

    This holding the child hostage is ridiculous and would never happen in real life. It just wouldn’t. It makes the sub-plot harder to accept because it’s so unrealistic.

    As for the main plot, that itself is fascinating. Math DOES define the world we are in. So, it’s really interesting watching the numbers connect. I watch it because of the numbers. The sub-plot is irritating, but the main plot is fantastic.

  26. I think you really missed the point of this program. The name is touch because of the connections. I feel those connections every single day. People have changed in that they no longer consider their family to be their only connections. People are starting to find connections and understanding from people in new ways. I think you will find that more people would take a cell and pass it along like a talisman. It was explained in the program that each person who received that phone looked into it and realized it was not one persons phone. That it had been all over the world from the evidence of texts and videos. If I found a cell I would check out the stuff on it. That is what they did.

    There are tons of sites that share and connect. Ifoundyourcamera and Postsecret come to mind. People are looking for connection. They are less about the cynicism of life and more about the unusual pulses and connections that happen. As a Taoist I see this more and more.

    This show was awesome. I loved it.

    Bekki

  27. The first episode was good, the second already seemed to be a bit same old, same old.

    If it had been a one off feature length it would have been talked about for months, as it is, I’m already thinking “Another 11 episodes, how are they going to keep the interest”?

  28. Very very cool show.. Need more shows like this on tv.. And more people helping others as an example in the show.. Very cool!!!!keep up the show..!!! Great Keifer Sutherland.. Gone from 24 fan to Touch fan.. Nice.. J

  29. I’m really disappointed that Kring is changing the format of season 2. I like how he weaved the stories across the globe in the first season. Also I do not like the addition of the priest who is like another Silar from Heroes. I feel the first season had more light and beauty. Hope he turns is back around. We already have enough bad guys in the show. Get rid of the priest.

    • I agree with the previous commenter. The weird priest is the most inscrutable villain. His motivations simply make no sense. As Sylar was the worst part of Heroes, he’s the worst part of Touch. Some of the changes in Season 2 are for the better… the weaving together of stories across the globe was starting to wear a bit thin, and the more long-range storyline is welcome. But “Perfect Storm” was the worst episode of the lot… tired cliches of being trapped in the dark with a psychopath picking people off one-by-one? Please.

      Touch needs to blend together the best of its initial premise with a compelling long-range dramatic arch. Guillermo must go.

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