TV Review - Touch: Season 2

Kiefer Sutherland (left) and
Maria Bello in "Touch" - Season 2
FOX moved this series to Fridays where the ratings have not been good. It's currently hanging on, but Touch is unlikely to see a third season, which is unfortunate because this season has improved a lot of the problems I had with the first. If FOX doesn't cancel the show before the season concludes itself, the series for me will be one of the year's best.

Kiefer Sutherland (24) stars as Martin Bohm, a former news reporter whose wife died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Ever since then, Martin was left to raise his autistic son, Jake, all by himself. The first season picks up ten years after 9/11 when Martin is working at JFK airport. A social worker puts Jake in a foster home because it's perceived that Martin isn't able to take care of Jake. That, and Jake's autism prevents him from wanting to be touched and also renders Jake mute.

Martin notices that Jake does try to communicate with his father but Jake does so through numbers. Martin realizes the numbers are connections to people who need help in some way. Martin intuits that Jake wants his father to help these people. Martin isn't sure how Jake gets these numbers. Jake could be psychic or he could have some kind of advanced intelligence. Whatever it is, Martin learns that Jake isn't the only one who can see these numbers. There are others.

At the end of the first season, Martin discovers there is an organization, not the government, but some kind of corporation like out of a Stephen King novel that wants people like Jake, people who can see these numbers. That corporation will do anything to get Jake and the others, so Martin kidnaps his son and flees to Los Angeles.

At the start of season two, Martin and Jake meet Lucy, played by Maria Bello (ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). Lucy is the mother of a teenage girl named Amelia who went missing three years ago. Amelia is like Jake in that she sees the numbers too. Martin assumes a false identity. The Hasidic rabbi who helped him last season sets Martin up in a house, and, a former colleague named Trevor gives Martin a job at an online news company called BreakWire. Martin then decides to help Lucy find Amelia, as it may also aid him in exposing the corporation behind all of this and saving them all.

When I watched this show last season, it was before seeing the latest Wachowskis and Tom Tywker film, but, as I watch the show now, I do see it as a weekly Cloud Atlas. It's not multiple story lines all played by the same actors, but it does embrace this we-are-all-connected idea and that something that someone does in L.A. can have a ripple effect to someone all the way across the globe.

The first season of Touch was going for the big butterfly effect as Cloud Atlas, which made the show seem unfocused. That's all gone for this season. Created and written by Tim Kring (Heroes), the show still has an international component, but it's not as dominant as before. This season has less subtitles for example.

There are story lines that take place in foreign countries, but even those now involve characters who prefer to speak English. Instead of having those story lines connect in random ways, Kring is more focused. The narrative or the path seems extremely more clear. He's not juggling so many disparate characters. He's really juggling a few and as such he's able to develop them better or in a time frame with better breathing room. Those other characters who aren't Martin, Jake or Lucy also don't feel tangential. They feel more integral to the main plot.

As much as I liked Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple) and Titus Welliver (Deadwood and The Good Wife) in the first season, they never felt as integral as Lukas Haas and Saïd Taghmaoui do this season. Lukas Haas (Witness and Brick) plays Calvin Norburg, a genius who has developed an algorithm for Aster Corps, the corporation that's after Jake and the others. Saïd Taghmaoui (Sleeper Cell and Lost) plays Guillermo Ortiz, a religious zealot who abhors blasephemy and like Aster Corps, he's searching for Jake and the others but for far different reasons.

Sutherland gets to run around and play average-guy-turned-hero, as desperately and as exasperated as his character is supposed to be. He's sympathetic and one with whom you can relate. His character Martin Bohm is less connected to his son, if only because he spends less time with his son than he did last season. It felt as if Martin and Jake were move joined at the hip last season. This season, Jake is more joined to Lucy, but it frees Martin to do more than what he could with his kid right by his side.

Last season also had a frenetic energy. This one continues that energy. Because the narrative is more focused and the characters are more integral, that energy feels more propulsive, as if it's actually getting us somewhere. Unlike with Kring's Heroes, which started to go downhill in the second season, Touch appears to be going up in its second season, creatively-speaking. I also continue to love the theme music by Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin, which sounds like a simple tune from a music box.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Fridays at 9PM on FOX.


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