fri 21/06/2024

Touch, Sky1 | reviews, news & interviews

Touch, Sky1

Touch, Sky1

Kiefer Sutherland swaps the war on terror for a voyage through the paranormal

Kiefer Sutherland (centre) runs the numbers with David Mazouz and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The eminence grise behind Touch is Tim Kring, who also devised Heroes, and it shows. Heroes was about a network of people with paranormal or superhuman powers, and so is Touch. In this case, we find ourselves in a universe which is underpinned by numerical patterns and mathematical probabilities. Only a select handful of humans can discern this astounding cosmic architecture and join the astral dots, one of them being Jacob "Jake" Bohm.

Jake is the 11-year-old son of single father Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a former ace newspaperman now struggling to bring up a boy who has never spoken a word in his life. It's odd, then, that it's Jake who delivers a voiceover at the start of the show, explaining that "it's my job to make the connections for those who need to find each other - the ones whose lives need to touch." Martin, it seems, has never recovered from the trauma of his wife's death in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 - maybe he should form a support group with Mac Taylor from CSI: NY - and his desperation at not being able to communicate with Jake (pictured below) is compounded by the fact that he's finding it increasingly difficult to earn a living. Although much has been made of how little Martin Bohm resembles Sutherland's signature role of Jack Bauer in 24, they're both desperate men who whisper in a gravelly undertone.

Judging by this debut episode, the aim of Touch is to fill viewers with wonder at the arcane secrets of a universe in which (according to a Chinese proverb) "the red thread of fate joins us all", while squeezing their tear-ducts mercilessly with a sequence of fantastical coincidences in which the lost are found and those in peril are saved. A key plot device was to have characters on several continents joined together by means of a mobile phone which had been lost at Heathrow by English traveller Simon Plimpton, who was desperate to recover it because it contained his only photos of his daughter who had died a year earlier.

The phone passed briefly through the hands of Martin Bohm, in his role as a baggage handler at New York's JFK airport, before finding its way to Dublin, where it was used to film budding singer Kayla Graham (Karen David). Then it was slipped into the luggage of a Japanese businessman who took it to Tokyo, where some giggly working girls (pictured below) found it and decided to launch a Kayla Graham fan club, and inadvertently ended up displaying Simon's photos of his daughter on giant video screens as he looked on in tearful amazement. And so on. Apparently in Touch world nobody steals smartphones, they just use them as viral messengers of global village-hood. I suspect Tim Kring smokes too much dope and is a big fan of the Incredible String Band.

Considering we're only talking about one episode here, the problem is that too much information has been dumped on the audience in one giant container-load, without giving viewers the opportunity to wonder whether they're ready to take all this stuff on trust. So Jake Bohm (David Mazouz) can telepathically detect the phone number of his social worker's mother, who she hasn't spoken to in aeons, and get her to call her daughter (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) two seconds later? Sure, why not. The friendly operator at your mobile phone company instinctively understands how to talk suicide bombers into disarming their explosives? All I can say is you'd be lucky to get that level of service from O2.

Coincidence began to morph into farce when Jake made a whole batch of phones ring and display the winning numbers for a massive lottery payout, but even that was incidental to the fact that the owner of the winning ticket proved to be the fireman who'd tried to save Martin's wife on 9/11. The subsequent synchronicitous collision of Martin and fireman at Grand Central Station meant that the latter missed his train, which enabled him to save the lives of some children caught up in a bus crash instead. Blimey. I think one episode of this is about all I can stand.

The aim is to fill viewers with wonder at the arcane secrets of a universe in which 'the red thread of fate joins us all'

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