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When Tim Kring’s name pops up in the credits for Touch, I have to imagine a lot of television fans having flashbacks of wasted opportunities. Kring, creator of Touch, also created superhero drama Heroes. Heroes’ first season remains, in my opinion, one of the strongest single seasons of television in the past decade. After that though, the show tanked both in quality and the ratings to the point where Kring even admits that he had mishandled the direction the show had taken. Touch’s first season, while not on par with that first Heroes season, showed that Kring could still create a show that could be a thrilling mystery while still maintaining an emotional core. As Touch’s second season opens with a two-episode premiere, much is at stake to see whether the show can be consistently entertaining after the first season in a way Heroes never could attain.
Touch follows widower Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) as he tries to communicate with his mute pre-teen son Jake (David Mazouz). Jake has the strange ability to see through time and tries to warn his father of future disasters using numbers. These numbers are what Jake reads to be able to see into the future. The choice of having the mute Jake share his thoughts in voiceover gives viewers a way of connecting with a character we would otherwise find somewhat off-putting. We see the method and reasoning to his thought process and what leads him to try and help his father and others using numbers. When watching Touch it’s not that hard to see certain elements of Lost seeping into the storyline. The sequence of mysterious numbers, the shady global corporations, the supernatural powers in children, it’s all there (minus the island of course). What remains to be seen is if Touch can continually keep viewers hooked the same way Lost did over multiple seasons.
The first episode of the night, “Event Horizon”, opens with Martin and Jake coming across Lucy (Maria Bello), a woman whose daughter Amelia was able to see through time just like Jake. Amelia has been missing for three years, and Lucy has been searching for her ever since. Her disappearance is linked to AsterCorp, the previously mentioned global corporation who have a vested interest in people who can see through the numbers. They even have their own mathematical genius who can see the numbers in Calvin Norburg (Lukas Haas). For supporting players, Bello and Haas give particularly effective performances. As the introverted Norburg, Haas does a good job of portraying a person who has gotten so wrapped up in the numbers he seems to be slowly losing pieces of his life. Bello perfectly captures the conflicting emotions of hopeless and hopeful as a mother who seems to always be just out of reach of finding her daughter. She is relentless in her search, but coming up short so many times has clearly taken its toll on her.
The show doesn’t seem to let up steam when we shift focus away from Martin and Jake either. We follow the exploits of Guillermo Ortiz (Said Taghmaoui), a priest who is on a murderous path to also discover the secrets behind the numbers. Armed with a mysterious folder filled with people who interact with the numbers, he seems hell-bent on killing all who might use them to see through time. Ortiz has a tenuous link to the main characters so far, but there are signs he will be finding Martin and Jake soon. The night’s second episode, “Closer” has a particularly intricate plot where he is tracking a sculptor who has used the numbers to make her art. Meanwhile we see Martin helping a man whose father has been kidnapped, see Lucy and Jake meet new friends at a pier, and follow an older couple who are broken up when one of them needs to go into hiding. These stories seem to have little to do with one another until the very end, when we find that the characters in Touch are always more connected to each other than we think. The show does a good job of throwing a curveball at us every so often to keep our interest high and the plot moving.
Touch is a very well made series, with top notch acting, directing, and most of the time very good writing. The issue is that these are the exact same things I said about Heroes after its first season. What remains to be seen is if Tim Kring has actually learned from his mistakes working with Heroes, or if he is doomed to repeat the past. If these two episodes are any indication, Touch should be able to fare better for a lot longer than Heroes did.
Photo credits: Michael Muller/FOX