Kiefer Sutherland Returns to TV in TOUCH

Kiefer Sutherland has come a long way since his early movie roles in Flatliners and Lost Boys. His portrayal of Jack Bauer in 24 was one for the ages. Now, he's back on television in a new drama on FOX called Touch. His character, Martin Bohm, is a lot more beaten down and sensitive than the superheroic federal agent in his previous TV thriller. Bohm is an emotional mess, trying to raise his son, Jake, who has special needs but also special skills, able to draw connections to the past, present, and future through the patterns and numbers he sees around him. The pilot episode was a terrific introduction and it will be interesting to see if the show can maintain that high quality throughout its run.

The series was created by Tim Kring who gave us Heroes. If you recall, that hit show started out with a bang after an exceptional pilot episode, drew millions of viewers during a spectacular first season, and then imploded under its own weight and fizzled into oblivion. Will Touch follow the same path?

The new show is visually amazing and the writing for the first episode at least was very strong, interconnecting a number of plotlines and packing a powerful punch. Maybe it's because we're the parents of a child ourselves, but my wife and I were caught up in the emotional grip of the scenes with Martin trying to reach his son. David Mazouz does an admirable job in the role of Jake, avoiding the pitfalls of sinking into melodrama or caricature -- there are no Rainman histrionics here, just a boy who sees the world in a very different way. We never hear him speak except in the voiceover prologue and epilogue of the pilot episode. Even the somewhat predictable climax at the end of the first episode was well done.

This is a science fiction premise, a fantasy idea that this little boy with social challenges is somehow gifted beyond our capacity to understand, able to see things and do things that seem impossible. Rather than look at any plotholes and leaps in logic that some critics have pointed out, the story is tight and nicely paced, providing many satisfying beats in a pleasantly produced package that helps us to easily suspend disbelief of the more farfetched elements of the show while enjoying the many solid elements that allow the viewer to slip into its world head first, no questions asked.

It all comes together so well because of the fantastic, believable performances of the entire cast. In addition to Sutherland and Mazouz, the other actors in the show are fabulous to watch -- Danny Glover and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in recurring roles, along with Titus Welliver, David de Lautour, Shak Ghacha, Karen David, and Simon Delaney who I wish were all recurring.

The first episode was great, now we'll have to wait until March for the series to start its full run. I hope it can deliver.