Touch – Pilot Episode Review
We review the new science fiction show by the creator of Heroes . . .
STARRING: Kiefer Sutherland, David Mazouz, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Danny Glover, Roxana Brusso
2012, Directed by: Francis Lawrence
It is difficult to judge a TV series from its pilot episode alone. Some TV shows only hit their stride much later on as anyone who sat through, let’s say, the third season of Babylon 5 will tell you. Some shows kick off promisingly, but fizzle out. Others jump the shark and try to convince us that all the characters were dead all along . . .
Fox must have a lot of confidence in their new TV show Touch because they are allowing viewers to check out the pilot episode in advance on the Internet before the show starts being broadcast regularly on March 19, 2012 (13 episodes have been ordered). No doubt they are hoping for the show to gather some good word of mouth, but reaction on the Internet has been mixed thus far.
Normally we’d say it stars Keifer Sutherland fresh from the 24 series, but seeing as that series actually ran eight seasons, that is not entirely the case. Touch is created by Tim Kring, who created Heroes – a show which kicked off strongly in its first season only to disappoint in the three lackluster seasons that followed.
(Incidentally, the pilot is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed Will Smith in I Am Legend and Keanu Reeves in Constantine.)
Keifer Sutherland plays Martin Bohm, an ex-reporter down on his luck. Martin used to write for the newspapers but now he is a luggage handler at an airport. Martin is also a widower and a single father who has an 11-year-old autistic son named Jake. During the course of the episode Martin discovers that Jake can somehow see complex mathematical patterns that no-one else can and thus predict the future in the process. (No spoilers: all is revealed in the official plot synopsis.)
Several other intertwined stories are thrown into the mix: an Iraqi suicide bomber; a British travelling kitchen appliance salesman; two giggling Japanese girl clubbers / hookers; a social worker who tries to help Martin; a girl in Ireland who does a bland karaoke version of a Bob Marley song (the same song by the way featured in director Lawrence’s I Am Legend – he must really like it); and a short-tempered fireman haunted by his 9/11 experiences.
All – or rather most – of these various plot strands will come together by the show’s end and by the time the end credits roll the viewer will be wandering into which direction all of this will be going. Touch most resembles Knowing, the 2009 movie starring Nicolas Cage in which a time capsule and maths allows Cage (also a single dad) to predict the future and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 flick Babel, which tells the interlocking story of several characters spread across the globe.
If Tim Kring’s presence led you expect something a bit more action-driven, then the chances are that you’ll be disappointed by Touch. Things might head off into a future direction in which Keifer Sutherland may battle shadowy secret government agencies who wants to use his son’s future predictive abilities for their own nefarious purposes. Or maybe Sutherland will follow further leads by his son to maybe rescue people each episode. Who knows? The ending is open.
But the pilot episode itself is more of a drama than an action series. It is unexpectedly moving in many ways, but downright infuriating in others. Leaving aside the issue whether existence is chaos or whether there is a plan of sorts behind everything, there are loads of plot holes in Touch (“I think shit just happens. But that’s me,” the Nicolas Cage character says in Knowing before being proven wrong as atheists and skeptics always are in Hollywood movies).
Just how did those cell phones’ batteries last so long? Just how does someone singing a bland Bob Marley cover song become such an Internet sensation? Are we to believe that the Brit couple only took pics of their young daughter on his cell phone? Doesn’t the wife have one? Why so careless if the phone means so much? In the end not even Touch can resist that old Hollywood cliché of defusing the bomb until the counter until it has hit the “1” mark. (Why have such counters on a bomb timer in the first place? Why not just a normal clock?)
And so on.
But by the end of the pilot episode we were intrigued enough to want to check out the further episodes and in that sense Fox’s gamble of releasing the pilot on the Web has succeeded.