TV Review - Touch

David Mazouz (left) &
Kiefer Sutherland in "Touch"
This FOX series is spiritual cousins with two CBS shows, the defunct Numb3rs and the current hit Person of Interest. The characters use digits or math to solve crimes or help people. Instead of cops or secret government agents, Touch has the unlikeliest of protagonists, a NYC airport worker and his mute, autistic son.

Much like Jake, the 11-year-old whose voice we hear in voice-overs but never in dialogue, I too see patterns and make connections between things. Aside from the CBS link, the first connection I see is to the recently released film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The essential conceit of which is centered on a prepubescent boy in Manhattan who suffers from Asperger's, a form of autism, and whose father dies on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center.

Here, Jake is also a prebuscent boy in Manhattan who suffers from a form of autism. Reversely though, Jake's mother is the one who died on 9/11 in the Twin Towers' collapse. Also, instead of being a kid who can incessantly speak to annoying levels, Jake never utters a word. It's almost as if the kid is auditioning for a role in The Artist.

This show was written by Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes, and, like that NBC series, Touch features a multitude of characters in international locations like Ireland, Kuwait and even Japan. This show stars and is produced by Kiefer Sutherland, the main actor from 24. Like that FOX series, Touch also features an anxious man at its center whose quick to lose his temper but who is a bit acrophobic.

Forget Jack Bauer though, Sutherland plays Martin Bohm, a former journalist who now works as a luggage handler at JFK airport. He's visited by Clea, a social worker, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who worries and criticizes Bohm for not having the ability to care for his son Jake financially. Jake's autism seems severe in that he doesn't allow anyone to touch him without totally freaking out. Jake has no verbal communication and Jake continues to put himself in danger by climbing a very tall cell phone tower.

Bohm notices that Jake loves numbers, especially 318. Jake has written it and a series of other numbers repeatedly. At first, they seem random, but Bohm starts to realize that there are patterns to the numbers like Fibonacci and reasons to them. Mainly, these patterns turn out to be phone numbers, addresses or dates. All of them point to people and places that need help. It becomes Bohm's job to find these people and places and do what he can to assist.

In the pilot episode, Bohm finds a lost cell phone at JFK airport. The cell phone belongs to Simon, a British father who just lost his daughter Lilah a year ago. Kayla Graham is an Irish, up-and-coming singer whose performance in a hotel bar gets recorded on a cell phone camera. That cell phone makes it into a Japanese man's briefcase where it's stolen by a female escort post coitus in a scene shot entirely from the cell phone or at least the cell phone's perspective. Both cell phones end up in the Middle East where a Kuwait boy who's an aspiring comedian à la Chris Rock is forced to use it as a detonator for a suicide bomb. Meanwhile, Bohm has to follow the numerial breadcrumbs that will lead to the redemption of Randall Meade, a 9/11 survivor.

Former music video director, Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend and Water for Elephants) brings together all these characters, such disparate elements and instruments, into what is an amazing symphony. While some critics have compared it to Babel (2006), which is a more apt comparison, it was also similar to the Oscar-winning film Crash (2005) in that the convergence of the storylines was more gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, as well as more purposeful. It was all complemented with a score that reminded me of the lovely music by Michael Giacchino from one of my favorite TV series Lost.

I was impressed by this pilot episode and I'm really eager to see more, but the pilot episode, which aired January 25th, was merely a preview. FOX isn't officially premiering the series until March 19. My anticipation may build until then, which may probably lead me to a huge disappointment. It wouldn't be the first Tim Kring series to start strong and then drop way off.

In the meantime, I will trumpet this show. I really enjoyed it. I recommend that everyone check it out. It's available on demand at Hulu.com right now or you can go to the official website FOX.com/Touch for more.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-PG-DLV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 9PM on FOX.
Starts March 19.

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