'Touch' Review: Worth Investing Your Time and Tear Ducts
“Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe it’s an answer to our prayers.”
“Touch”... you might just be the answer to mine.
The new Fox network television show starring Kiefer Sutherland and created by Tim Kring (“Heroes”) airs at 9 p.m. EST Thursday nights.
When I find myself stifling sobs at 45 minutes into an hour long drama -- for multiple episodes in a row -- I know it is time to reach out to you, dear readers.
It might have something to do with the theme music: a simple sequence of three ascending and three descending chords hopefully/hauntingly written and performed by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman of Prince and the Revolution fame.
On the official website of “Touch,” you will find this introduction:
We are all interconnected. Our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies touch ours.
This is the hopeful premise of the new drama TOUCH from creator and writer Tim Kring and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. Blending science, spirituality and emotion, the series will follow seemingly unrelated people all over the world whose lives affect each other in ways seen and unseen, known and unknown.
At the story’s center is Martin Bohm ("24's" Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazoua). Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son.
Science. Spirituality. Emotion. What a combo.
As the intricate, thrilling, heart tugging story unfolds, the connection between father and son begins to forge. Sutherland acts with full “24” style intensity. I give him a pass for the heavy breathing, as he follows my brilliant and beloved late acting mentor Michael Shurtleff’s first two (of 12) “Guideposts” for actors to a "T."
(1) “Relationship,” which is referenced above (father/son).
(2) in the Shurtleff canon, “What Are You Fighting For?” As to that, Sutherland never leaves us any doubt.
Backstory: Martin Bohm was working as a journalist when, on Sept. 11, 2001, his wife died in the Twin Towers. In the interim ten years, Martin has become an itinerant worker. When we meet him, he is a baggage handler at JFK airport. Devastated, ever distracted, Martin struggles to care for his son Jake, who may be autistic … or a mathematical savant … or something more. Jake has never spoken a single word.
Mazoua mesmerizes as Jake. In a tasty stylistic devise, each episode begins and ends with a monologue by Jake – whose voice we never hear elsewhere -- over exquisite visual images (a baby’s tiny fist, a newborn lamb beginning to stand) in the opening, and over summary montages at the end which weave the theme and storyline into a complete yet evolving fabric.
It is like watching the petals of a flower unfold in fast motion.
Jake sees patterns. He points out sequences of numbers to Martin, who recognizes the numbers and interprets them as meaningful because he is paying total attention to his son in an urgent effort to connect with him. As does Clea Hopkins, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw -- the social worker assigned to determine whether Jake is safe in Martin’s custody.
As events unfold, Clea becomes their ally. Martin “gets” Jake’s messages and follows the clues … the “road map” of numbers his son points out to him. He does this with Jack Bauer-like relentlessness. As Martin breathlessly intones to strangers he encounters on his quest, “This is supposed to happen!”
However Jake is accessing this mathematically coded information, Martin quickly learns that it is intended to solve problems, avert accidents, right wrongs and, most importantly, bring people together...
Love is the leitmotif of the piece.
We find, as the third act of each episode unfolds, all of the disparate stories—spread across the globe with the aid of cell phones, cameras and social media—resolve. They connect. It is quite miraculous. Characters unexpectedly die. Others live. People change in profound ways in response to what appears to be a random act of chance.
A character will perceive an image or bit of information in the final moments which will make you gasp in astonishment as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Come with me on this journey, Big Hollywood acolytes. Let’s take it together.
Spoiler: The woman in the open Iraqi marketplace in the pilot who is rocking the black burqa is ... yours truly.