Touch (Kiefer Sutherland) - First episode review
Review by Rob Carnevale
KIEFER Sutherland’s first major TV role since 24 also marks the return of Heroes creator Tim Kring and combines elements of both shows.
But while Touch does boast an intriguing premise it’s a show that by the end of its first hour is already threatening to become less interesting the longer it lasts.
Sutherland stars as Martin Bohm, the father of a mute son named Jake who could be attempting to communicate through numbers, but who could equally be autistic or traumatised following the death of his mother on 9/11 10 years ago.
Why then does he persist in climbing cell towers at exactly the same time? And how come he can arrange a collection of mobile phones in his bedroom to go off at exactly the same time with the same incoming call number?
As Martin frantically raced against the clock (sound familiar) to work out the clues various other people orbited the central storyline, from a boy in Baghdad desperate to replace his father’s cooker to a grieving dad desperate to be reunited with his phone, to a 9/11 NY fireman still feeling guilt over his failure to save someone from the Twin Towers. How could they all be connected.
Well, according to Danny Glover’s typically eccentric Professor Arthur DeWitt, by something called ‘quantum entanglement’. For Jake can see things… he can join the dots and follow patterns, enabling him to see the world differently – or rather, ‘the unspeakable beauty of the universe’ (hence, the mute switch).
And by the end of the episode, Martin had accepted his [silent] calling as the routemaster – someone whose destiny it now becomes to help Jake join the dots together.
In doing so, Martin invariably provided an outlet for the fireman’s grief (given that it was Jake’s mum he had failed to save), thwarted a terrorist bomb in Baghdad, brought happiness to a grieving dad and global fame to a would-be singer. The link? A mobile phone.
But while some may marvel at the complexity of Kring’s plotting, the sceptics may argue that it relies too heavily on contrivance. Viewers are required to make a massive leap of faith.
Similarly, there’s a naivety on show too. The boy in Baghdad, for instance, was last seen smiling as his dad’s cooker was replaced, irrespective of the fact he had just thwarted a terrorist attack (by switching off his vest) and was probably on their most wanted list.
It’s the type of overt sentimentality at which so many US shows excel but which adds an extra layer of contrivance to an already packed episode.
It meant that Jake’s final act hug of his father came as little surprise when it did finally happen.
But therein lies another problem. We’ve yet to warm to Jake as there’s a fine line between distant and precocious. Or even looking blank.
Sutherland, on the other hand, plays tortured so well that it’s great to have him back on-screen, albeit in a gentler guise than Jack Bauer. That said, he did seem most at ease when trying to beat the clock – and there’s no one on TV able to deliver a ‘damn it’ with more conviction, even when getting his hand trapped in a drawer.
But – and this look like a big ‘but’ – as the clock starts ticking on another US import there’s a strong sense that not all of Kring’s numbers will add up in the long run.
Touch airs on Sky1 on Tuesday nights from 8pm.