New FOX Series Can Be a Little Out of ‘Touch’

Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer on “24”) is making a surprisingly quick return to television. Most actors who finish an eight season television series might take a break or at least try to act in movies.

Yet, Sutherland will be returning to your screen March 19 on FOX after deciding the sci-fi drama “Touch” was just too good to let someone else have. Why was it so appealing to him? After watching the pilot, your guess is as good as mine.

The show revolves around a single man, Martin (Sutherland), and his 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). His wife was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11, leaving him to raise his son alone.

Jake has been diagnosed as autistic as well as mute and does not interact with anyone. Jake will not let anyone touch him, not even his own father. He spends his time writing numbers in books and playing with cell phones that Martin brings home from the lost and found at his job. Jake often escapes from his care providers and climbs up cell towers.

After one too many adventures up the cell tower, child services is called to check up on Martin and Jake, and decide if Jake should be institutionalized. Martin doesn’t think his son is crazy. He finds a website from an institute that claims that humans with advanced intelligence are often mistaken as being autistic.

With the help of a professor, Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), Martin realizes that all of the numbers Jake writes have meaning: a time, a place, a phone number.

Martin has to figure out what they mean and how they are connected. Jake acts out because he is helping a chain reaction. Without Jake’s climb up a cell tower, none of the people in the episode (whose locations range from London to Tokyo to Baghdad) would ever be connected.

The concept is interesting. It demonstrates how one piece of technology like a cellphone can connect people all over the world. It’s also somewhat refreshing to see technology portrayed in a positive light, since most sci-fi/fantasy portrays it negatively.

Yet I have to wonder how this will be kept up as a weekly show. The concept is interesting now, but it seems like something that would get boring after 22 episodes. Tim Kring (creator of “Heroes”) created the show, so there might be some intricate master plan that just can’t be seen yet.

The acting is good, and even the slew of guest actors were quite convincing in their roles, but I’m not actually sure that Sutherland is capable of any emotions outside of brooding. He can do angry, pensive and sad quite well, but I’m not sure he knows what happy looks like. That doesn’t really matter though, because his character Martin only seems to brood and be pensive.

However, something is missing. It lacks that certain spark. There isn’t any real chemistry between the actors, but then again, all of the characters are supposed to be strangers so that tends to be fine. They don’t appear to have much character development and that makes them pretty flat.

It seems like what you see is what you get from all these characters and it’s just hard to care about them with the exception of Jake.

So much time was spent on glimpses into the lives of various people being connected that it was hard for the audience to connect with any of them.

As any “Heroes” fan knows, Tim Kring’s fatal flaw is the desire to show the entire world. He creates more characters than he knows what to do with and it leaves the audience feeling rather disconnected.

“Touch” technically premieres on March 19, but viewers got to see a preview episode on January 25 after “American Idol.”

FOX has done this before, most memorably with “Glee.” It appears like it was a good plan. According to, over 12 million viewers tuned in, but it’s hard to say if it will last.

While there isn’t anything particularly awful about the show, there isn’t anything particularly wonderful about it either. It seems like a show where the plot will get old fast if they stick to the pilot’s formula.