In its first season, Touch spun spiritual poetry with its message that we’re all interconnected, with lives invisibly threaded to those whose destinies touch ours. Moving stuff, but perhaps a bit airy-fairy for a primetime Fox series.
Now Kiefer Sutherland is back for season two with more of a rock ‘n’ roll attitude, upping his dramatic game with the kind of life-or-death stakes, evil corporations and the nut-job baddies we grew to love on his previous success, 24. If anything, there’s more fun to be had here, for sure, even as the storylines darken and grow more complex.
What is truly remarkable is how Fox producers and writers were able to weave such action-packed, traditional suspense elements into Touch’s second season while preserving the mystique and magic around the widower Martin Bohm (Sutherland) and his numbers-obsessed-but-mute gifted child, Jake (David Mazouz).
“The first season was really about a father trying desperately to connect with his son, to find a way to communicate with his son, because his son doesn’t speak and won’t let anybody touch him,” says Sutherland.
“Season two becomes considerably more aggressive because all of a sudden, other people are starting to realise about my son’s gift and that gift is unbelievably valuable. So he goes from a father who’s trying to understand his son to a father who’s trying to protect his son. And that’s a dynamic shift.”
Jake’s gift is that he perceives the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet and, like a karmic air-traffic controller, keeps the planetary balance and positively shapes the destiny of people everywhere, with his dad on board to help him decipher the meaning behind the numbers.
With a dramatic shift in action to Los Angeles from New York, Martin and Jake now find themselves at the centre of a global conspiracy as they try to help a distraught mother, Lucy (Maria Bello), in her desperate search for her similarly gifted teenage daughter Amelia (the newcomer Saxon Sharbino), who reportedly died three years before. But mum’s not buying any bit of such a cock-and-bull story.
Thwarting their efforts are the Aster Corp mathematical genius Calvin (Lukas Haas) and the religious zealot Guillermo (Said Taghmaoui), who’s out to assassinate all people like Jake and Amelia – of which there are 36 on Earth.
“Most kids our age aren’t playing characters like this,” says Sharbino, 13. “Amelia is more maps and tidal waves, while Jake is more numbers, but Amelia can predict the future.” She’s also a human Rosetta Stone who, despite her gift, can easily communicate with normal people as well as interpret for the 36.
Adds the 12-year-old Mazouz: “My character Jake changes in a few ways. He finds more creative and interesting new ways of communicating. In season one, he was just kind of one note, with every once in a while a smile here, a smile there. In season two, Jake starts to evolve. He becomes more human.”
After last season’s unprecedented global launch of Touch in more than 100 countries, the series continues to do well overseas, ranking first or second in its time slot while driving up the foreign channels’ primetime average by double- or triple-digit percentage points, according to Fox.
Stateside, however, it’s been a bumpier ratings ride for Touch, which debuted with 12 million Kiefer-curious viewers, only to end the first season with three million viewers – which easily explains the show’s creative shake-up. There’s no word yet, however, on a third-season renewal.
• Touch returns at 8pm on Wednesdays on OSN First HD
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