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Fox's 'Touch' Can Be Tough to Grasp
February 3, 2012  | By Ed Bark


By Ed Bark

The numbers, the premise, the interconnectivity and Kiefer Sutherland as a beaten-down airport baggage handler. None of these quite add up in Fox's Touch.

Not that all involved aren't wholly well-intended in this far-flung aspirational new series from the creator and executive producer of NBC's Heroes. Fox is launching it via a special preview episode following Wednesday's (Jan. 25) edition of American Idol. The official series premiere isn't until March 19, when Touch is slated to follow House.

An opening voiceover from the otherwise mute 11-year-old Jake Bohm (David Mazouz) tries to explain what he and the series are all about. Jake has made it his life's work to mix and match numbers whose "patterns never lie." He's thereby able to "make the connections for those who need to find each other. The ones whose lives need to touch." Ergo, the kid's oversized notebooks are jam-packed with long strings of numbers.


All of this makes his poor dad's head hurt. Martin Bohm (Sutherland) is a widower whose well-to-do stockbroker wife, Sarah, perished in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She's left him with a nice three-bedroom loft in a desirable Manhattan neighborhood.

But Martin's penance is Jake, who has never spoken a word and freaks out when touched. It's put dad on a downward spiral. Once a "highly paid reporter at the Herald" in the expository words of social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Martin in recent years has been a doorman, a cab driver, a construction worker and now a JFK Airport baggage handler. He hasn't quite hit rock-bottom yet. Otherwise he'd be a blogger.

Young Jake enjoys the lost-and-found cell phones that his brother brings him from work. Offering him a fresh batch is a way to talk him down from the towers he tends to climb during school hours. Another such excursion leads to an intervention by Clea, who thinks that Jake might do better in foster care.

Touch otherwise capsulizes Jake's worldview via the opening episode's oft-subtitled jaunts abroad.

A teenager in Baghdad aspires to be the next Chris Rock, but his parents face destitution after their in-home bakery oven burns out. Asian call girls hope to make a struggling Australian singer's video go viral. A London businessman is apoplectic about losing his cell phone because it has the last images of his recently deceased daughter. And closer to home, a firefighter keeps playing the same numbers in the lottery while also having two altercations with Sutherland's Martin.

Then there's professor Arthur Teller (guest star Danny Glover), who all too conveniently and unconvincingly unlocks the key to Jake's extraordinary abilities to see the past, present and future -- often all at once. Thus informed, Martin quickly gets with the program, enlisting Clea as his helpmate after she, too, sees the light.


Sutherland's role is a notable departure from 24's Jack Bauer, although he still tends to speak in breathless intonations when under pressure. In both dramas, cell phones are indispensable supporting characters.

It's all a lot to digest, let alone swallow whole. Tim Kring, the Heroes maestro who's also behind Touch, told TV critics during a January press tour session that he's a champion of "social benefit storytelling, the idea of trying to use archetypal narrative to create and promote a positive energy in the world."

That's a noble-sounding aim. And Touch certainly is a change of pace from corpse-choked police procedurals or buddy/buddy/buddy sitcoms.

Whether it will grab you, though, is another matter entirely. Wednesday's opener is a whirlwind of activity and sometimes a breath of fresh air. Still, it's hard to imagine Touch pulling all of this off for any length of time. Especially when the first episode leaves so very many p(l)otholes on those multiple roads to nirvana-ville. Its spirit is willing, but the construction has foundation problems.


Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com



Ed Q. said:

Glad I watched the episode before reading the review. I enjoyed the interconnectivity of all the characters. Yes, it was amazingly convenient finding the Teller institute so quickly, I let that go as a long time search to which we just seeing the conclusion.

Heroes was an incredibly strong show initially and I'm hoping Tim Kring can recreate that with Touch.

Comment posted on January 27, 2012 10:46 PM

What happened to your editor?

That's supposed to be "None of these quite ADDS up in Fox's Touch"

Comment posted on January 27, 2012 11:35 PM
Toni said:

Thanks for saving me some of the channel surfing I usually do to find something WORTH watching.
Comcast is not able to tell me when some of the shows I like are on.
Go figure...
Is there a site that will tell one when & where a show is? If I type in "Touch" or "House" it will tell me what channel & what time it's on, for the different cable options (ATT, Comcast, etc.)? I missed 6 months of House because I couldn't find it!
Thanks a bunch,

Comment posted on January 31, 2012 12:40 AM

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