Airtime: Mon., 9/8c on Fox (premieres March 19, 2012)
Ok for Ages: 13+
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Mazouz
Parents Should Know: Touch is an emotional drama with heavy themes like losing a parent and raising a special needs child. Violence includes fiery car accidents, bombings, fist-fighting, and references to terrorist attacks (a parent died on 9/11). Also, some sexuality (references to prostitution), mild language (“hell,” “damn”), and social drinking.
After eight seasons of watching Kiefer Sutherland kick some terrorist tush on 24, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see him as any other character. But after watching the pilot for Touch, I’m willing to give it a try. And man, it’s good to see him back on TV again. I’m not sure Touch is going to be a tough-guy role for him, but it’s early in the game and anything could happen. It didn’t take him long to beat up a guy in the pilot, but mostly, he’s just a vulnerable dad trying to connect with his son, which already makes Touch more family-friendly than 24.
Sutherland plays Martin Bohm, a widower and single dad raising his emotionally-challenged 11-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz), who’s never spoken, shows very little emotion, and has never allowed himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Having a kid who never interacts with you and barely seems to know you’re there is a daunting challenge, and both Mazouz and Sutherland have the emotional chops to pull it off.
On top of that, Jake is obsessed with numbers — writing long strings of them in notebooks — and discarded cell phones. He keeps running away from school and climbing to the top of a cell phone tower, breaking the tower’s security alarms at precisely 3:18 p.m. each time.
In the pilot, we’re also introduced to Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a social worker who believes Jake needs more than his dad can offer. Despite Martin’s heartbreaking objections, Jake is placed in foster care. But things start to change when Martin seeks out Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a professor and an expert on children with special numerical gifts. Turns out there are more to those long strings of numbers than meets the eye. They’re actually Fibonacci number sequences, which connect seemingly unrelated things. Using these hidden patterns, Jake is able to predict events before they happen, and Martin has a new way to connect with his son. Bonus points that the dynamic duo is able to help people around the world by stopping potentially harmful events before they happen.
Number-focused storylines have been done before. There’s, well, Numb3rs, the show about mathematicians using equations to help the FBI solve crimes. And Fringe worked the Fibonacci sequence into a major storyline that involved Walter Bishop reciting the numbers like he was counting sheep. But Touch brings something new to the table with the father-son connection. As a parent, I want to keep watching not so much for the numbers, but to see if Martin can connect with Jake in a more meaningful way.
There’s always the danger that Touch, though well written and compelling, will dissolve into a “case of the week” format. But since it was created by Tim Kring, the mastermind behind Heroes, there’s no doubt a bigger story here, one that will keep us guessing from week to week.