TV Review - Touch: Season 1

I reviewed the pilot episode when it aired back in January, and not since the pilot to Homeland last year had I seen such an amazingly-crafted first episode. It was extremely well-produced from a technical standpoint, well-written, well-acted and certainly well-directed. It also had me curious to see where it was going. Of course, I was skeptical. Touch was created by Tim Kring who also created NBC's Heroes. That show also had an amazing pilot and a just as amazing first season. Unfortunately, the subsequent years were horrible in that Heroes quickly started to decline.

The reason might have been that Heroes was going for something bigger and more epic than the writers and producers could handle. Touch seems much simpler. It almost reminds me of Quantum Leap. That show involved time travel, but it didn't go into complicated territory like paradoxes or multiple universes, i.e. Fringe. It was just about a guy trying to help people.

At its core, Touch is also about a guy trying to help people. Over-arching is the story of a father trying to connect with his son, while his son is trying to connect the world. Touch does have an international appeal, much like Heroes. Both shows aren't afraid to have main characters speaking in a foreign language for entire episodes with subtitles for the viewers to read. Every episode at this point is subtitled. In many ways, Touch is more global than Heroes. It's taken us to Iraq, Africa, Japan, Canada and France. Yet, Touch feels supremely more intimate and personal than Heroes.

Unfortunately, as Season 1 has progressed, that intimacy and personal nature has been diluted. A lot of the episodes feel like the writers are simply connecting dots and not really developing characters. It's not even that they're juggling too much. It's that the way they're juggling is repetitive and increasingly tangential and at times non-crucial.

How the episodes work is Kiefer Sutherland who plays Martin Bohm will get numerical clues from his mute, autistic son Jake. Those clues will lead him to someone who needs Martin's help. The episode interweaves people who are affected often indirectly by that someone who needs Martin's help. Often, it's too indirectly. Often, the episodes are served very little, if at all, by these indirectly affected people. The mythology that's been introduced is taking the show to the ridiculous and giving a mythology where one really isn't required.

A few of the episodes have had characters that appeared in the pilot episode return. Randall Meade, played by Titus Welliver, and, Abdul, played by Shak Ghacha, both appeared in the pilot and then again in Episode 4, titled "Kite Strings." The Happy Pop Twins, played by May Miyata and Satomi Okuno, were in the pilot and then again in Episode 7, titled "Noosphere Rising." A character that showed up in Episode 3, titled "Safety in Numbers" is introduced in Episode 6, titled "Lost & Found."

I appreciated when the show did that. At times, it might have seemed like random re-working of random people, but the show did utilize these once indirectly affected people again in interesting ways. While the short-term webs work fine, seeing the six degrees of separation play out over multiple episodes and seeing lives converge more than once help the show's overall message. Nevertheless, this series is a compelling adventure. Sutherland is great in the role and episodes like Episode 2, titled "1+1=3," have been so well crafted that it makes this a show that could be Emmy nominated.

In Episode 2, Sutherland's character foils a pawn shop robbery. The scene in which he does that is bookended with a bell ringing above a door. Every moment and every camera angle depicting those moments between the bell ringing, the editing and acting, were effective. I dare say even artistic.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays on FOX.


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