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January 26, 2012 / mandalaymai

Touch…the goosebumps on my arm!

OK. I was all set to write about Modern Family, but two things happened.  One, it wasn’t new last night.  It was a good repeat though, because Cam’s delight at finding himself in an inadvertent Stanley Kowalski moment was precious a second time. The second thing, though, was the teaser pilot, or series preview, for Keifer Sutherland’s new series on Fox, Touch.

Touch tells the story of an autistic child, Jake, whose mother died in 9/11.  Keifer Sutherland is the father whose career as a journalist took a nosedive after 9/11 and who has had a seemingly endless string of odd jobs in the intervening ten years.  Jake’s autism is severe enough that he never speaks and will not allow anyone to touch him at all.  

The story begins when Jake starts to exhibit strange behaviors, which attract the attention of a social worker who is loathe to believe Jake’s father, that the behavior is expressed in patterns and is Jake’s attempt to communicate with the world.  Of course, subsequent events convince the social worker, Clea, and Clea and Jake’s father, Martin, join forces to unravel the mystery with an impending deadline looming.

There are lots of pros to this show.  First and foremost, Keifer is back!!!  As my sister said, “I like him so I am already inclined to like this show.”  I agree.  I miss 24 (in its heyday before it got ridiculous trying to one-up itself).  And this show gives Keifer lots of opportunities to rush around against a deadline, but more freedom than the 24 hour timeframe gave him to slow down and reflect and have emotive scenes.  Hell, maybe this show will let him do mundane things like shower, eat, and watch TV…  and (I’m guessing) there will be far less opportunity for him to torture people.  And practically no need for him to walk around with a head in a bag. 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (and no, I don’t know how to pronounce it) plays the social worker, Clea, and does a good job of being a convincing social worker, but not so stuck in her mindset that she stubbornly refuses to accept that something unusual and amazing is going on with Jake’s character.  David Mazouz’s does a great job at playing autistic.  You feel his isolation and are as desperate as his father is to grasp the meaning.  It was a satisfying moment when he is finally able to touch his father and give him a hug.

Another good part of the show is seeing how the disparate elements and different, seemingly unrelated characters will finally connect.  From the father who lost his daughter, to the karaoke singer in Ireland, to the teenager in Baghdad who needs to buy his mom an oven, we know these stories will eventually intersect in some way, but seeing how they will come together is interesting enough to keep me watching. 

And last but not least, Danny Glover!  He was great as Keifer’s sounding board and entree to the autistic mind and the potentialities that it can grasp that we regular folks cannot.   I loved his line explaining why Jake won’t speak.  To paraphrase, it is that Jake sees the order in the chaos and it is such a thing of beauty that to see the world that way makes speech superfluous and unnecessary.

I really have no cons, except to wonder how they will sustain this premise over the long run.  Just like my apprehension for the show Once when I realized the Lost folks were behind it, I have concerns for this, as Tim Kring is the creator.  And I still find it hard to get over how he threw the promising start of Heroes right out the window.  Still, I was surprised at how many elements and stories the episode could hold while still remaining comprehensible.  Anyway, I have already set my DVR and welcome Keifer back to my Monday nights.  I can’t wait to see the rest!


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