Kiefer Southerland returns to television in TOUCH, a Fox original drama about a 9/11 widower attempting to raise his emotionally disconnected 11-year-old son. Southerland plays Martin Bohm, whose wife died in the Twin Towers. His son Jake (David Mazouz) seems to be autistic - he doesn't speak (although he does provide occasional narration), he inexplicably climbs cell towers, and he can't stand to be touched. But what's really interesting about Jake is his propensity for mathematical patterns, which he sees everywhere in the world around him. In those patterns, Jake makes connections that are ultimately extraordinary.
The theme of TOUCH is that we are all connected in inexplicable ways. A man in Ireland takes a cell phone video of co-worker Kayla Graham performing in a local club. He tells Kayla she's going to end up a superstar, and then he slips the cell phone into a random backpack. By the end of the episode, that cell phone video is projected on a massive Times Square-style screen in Tokyo - superstardom, indeed!
This is just a small example of the often miraculous interconnections revealed in this episode. Jake is obsessed with numbers on busses, lottery tickets, cell phones, newspapers, and calendars, using them as road maps to people and events that can be life-changing. One such chain of numbers connects the firefighter who tried to save Martin's wife back on 9/11 with a winning lottery ticket and a bus filled with school children. These are global connections that are overwhelming in scope.
TOUCH also features Danny Glover as odd-but-brilliant mathematician Arthur Teller, who tries to explain to Martin how Jake is using something called the Fibonacci sequence to reveal the world's interconnected patterns. And Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays social worker Clea Hopkins, who doesn't believe Martin is capable of taking care of Jake - that is, until she begins to suspect that Jake's deductive powers truly are miraculous.
Overall, TOUCH is a unique and engaging drama that has great potential. It was written and directed by Tim Kring, of HEROES fame, and produced by the same bunch that gave us TERRA NOVA. I found the pilot to be complex and intriguing - this is a show you'll need to pay careful attention to, as characters and events become quickly interwoven in ways that could become confusing. It's also a show with a lot of heart - there's one particular sequence where a grieving father experiences unexpected grace in a very unexpected way. This is an emotionally gripping show that knows the difference between sentiment and sentimentality. You might find yourself tearing up as you watch TOUCH, but you will never feel manipulated. I highly recommend it - there's nothing else like it on TV today.
The show will begin showing new episodes in mid-March, 2012.