Touch - pilot episode
Kiefer Sutherland returns in the new supenatural SF series from Heroes
man Tim Kring
Air date: US: 25 January, 2012, 9 ET Fox
Season premieres 19 March, 2012, 9 ET Fox
Touch is a show that comes with very high expectations. Brainchild of Tim Kring, creator of the initially phenomenal Heroes and starring 24's Jack ("DAMMIT!") Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland, it has big promises to keep. Fortunately for the most part it does. But first, I'm going over here to digress -
The legacy of Lost has a lot to answer for in regard to the shape of the current US televisual landscape. Whether it be the mercifully dead FlashForward (Rest In Fuck Off, you big pile of stupid!) or new kid on the block, Alcatraz (a show that seems to change from scene to scene. Is it brilliant? Is it awful? WHAT IS IT!? ), all the networks want a slice of that long game "Ooh! Isn't it all just a bit WEIRD!!?" pie.
Where they tend to fall down is that in order for an audience to return every week, they need to be engaged by and care about the characters. For example, if you asked me to name three characters from FlashForward, at best I could give you "Nice Hair," "President" and "MILF" (Burn in hell FlashForward!!! Why've you got a capital F in the middle of your name anyway? Is it because the only people who thought you were any good are all massive FaNnys?). At least with Lost, we knew and cared about our protagonists – Jack, Sawyer, MILF, Hurley et al. We wanted to know their fates as much as we wanted the mystery of what was actually happening revealed and so we came back. And so to its (fingers crossed for the creators) heir apparent -
Character-wise, Touch hits the ground running. We get creepy, exposition heavy, opening narration by a creepy kid being creepy. He's Jake, the mute 11-year-old kid of our hero, Martin Bohm (Sutherland), a man who seemingly had it all - soulmate wife who made a ton of money, his own successful career as a journalist and a newborn son. All going swimmingly until his wife was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.
He spent a decade drifting from job to job, raising his son who has never spoken and who is a constant source of worry as he tends to leg it every time Martin's back is turned. As fans of 24 will know, Sutherland does gritted-teeth grace under pressure acting better than anyone, his Jack Bauer growing into an iconic TV hero over the course of its run. Thankfully, Touch gives him a chance to get in, well, TOUCH with his softer side.
Martin is a loving father doing all he can to raise a son whose mysterious condition raises challenges that anyone would struggle to deal with. The dynamic between them is tender and unpatronising in that it never attempts to drag at your heartstrings and at no point descends into mush. These are characters that, pretty much from the get go, you feel you'd be happy to return to and see where their stories take them.
This being a Kring show, however, we aren't with any set of characters for long. The premise being that we're all connected, the world shaped by cause and effect. Mysterious numbers that Jake and others like him can read to see, well, everything appear throughout in places as far flung as New York, Dublin, Tokyo and Baghdad. We have stories within the story that play out and, in this episode at least, are all resolved in a neat, satisfactory and in one particular strand, very moving way.
As long as things whip along as they have been so far and Kiefer keeps delivering up the "DAMMIT!!"s (I counted two this week), then it should be, at the very least, enjoyable to see how it all unfolds. If I have one complaint it's that some of the dialogue is so ropey you could swing on it, "here in a bar in Dublin, Ireland?" being a prime example. I'm actually writing this in Dublin. You probably get that I'm in Ireland though, eh? You may be reading this in Liverpool, England, Earth.
The first episode of anything is tricky to pull off. Touch has been classy, engaging and, forgive me for this, touching so far. It'll be interesting to see how it progresses. Is there any sort of enemy/Big bad? Story arcs? Personally I find it refreshing that for an opening episode a show has had the balls to essentially say "These are the characters, we like them and look forward to seeing what they do. We hope you do to". Well, so far, I very much do.
Click here for the trailer:
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