“Touch” may not be a great show just yet, but we’ll at least give it some credit for having a pretty great premiere. The opening narration by David Mazouz’s Jake was a powerful way to start the show, and the near-connection between the character and Kiefer’s Sutherland’s Martin was — dare we say it — a touching finale. What fell between occasionally was a bit rocky, but executive producer Tim Kring seems desperate to show us here that he has a premise that he can work out over time far better than he did with “Heroes.”
We’ll start here with what clearly worked during the premiere — the chemistry between Sutherland and Mazouz. We are thrilled to see the former “24” star playing a role that turns Jack Bauer on its head — while Jack’s struggles were often outside of himself, Martin wages his battles from within as he tries to be a good father to an autistic child he cannot even begin to understand. His wife passed away on September 11, and he’s tried to bounce from job to job to make things work — even though it hasn’t worked out. Martin is a captivating character, which made seeing him start to connect with Jake via the number patterns he traced out in the pilot something special — and not just the “a-ha!” moment that many series go to out of necessity.
The rest of the story is still a bit trickier to understand. We have a call center worker with further aspirations, young women in Japan, and a man desperate to find his phone so he can keep pictures of his late daughter close. They all at times feel like images ran through a strobe light. Even with that, we did start to see where this was going when the power of connection suddenly made our aspiring singer’s performance a viral hit in Japan — and when she also managed to stop a bomb by using the number of the man looking for the aforementioned photo. All of this traced back to Martin and his son, but the chain of events may not be direct enough to be appreciated just yet.
We’re still ultimately hesitant to give “Touch” a full endorsement, largely due to the fact that Kring has teased so much in the past. But what seems to be working here versus with “Heroes” is that he has a main character, a simpler premise in a boy who can seemingly predict the future, and a strong cast that also includes the excellent Danny Glover as one of the only people who can help Martin understand what is going on with his son. We just hope that things between Martin and another character introduced in the pilot — a social worker who places Jake into a care center — does not jump off the cliff of realism.
For now, let’s just say that “Touch” may have more potential than just about any other new drama Fox has introduced this season — the question here is just going to be if it can keep it up.