Numbers Game: Kiefer Sutherland returns to TV in Touch
New drama counts on child savant to show how we’re all connected
by Gerri Miller
Does a kid with a beautiful mind hold the secrets to the universe? In the new Fox drama Touch, premiering March 19, Kiefer Sutherland stars as Martin Bohm, a widowed airport baggage handler and former investigative reporter, whose young son Jake (David Mazouz) sees the world in patterns and numerical sequences but cannot speak. Jake communicates with his father in other ways, leading him toward clues that will help him make something happen, or prevent it from happening.
“Jake sees the world in a unique way, through a kind of mathematical lens,” says Touch creator Tim Kring, noting that the boy exhibits “severe issues” often associated with autism, including muteness and dislike of being touched. “There’s obviously something on the savant scale, but we’re not basing it on anything necessarily in the real world. What we’re saying is there is something mystical and magical about this boy. He’s small and frail and doesn’t speak, and yet in many ways he’s one of the most powerful people on the planet, with his ability. He may represent some sort of evolutionary step in our consciousness.” Kring’s premise poses that others like Jake exist. “It will be fun,” he says, “as you watch the show, to see when and how we introduce them.”
Each episode of Touch, which also stars Danny Glover and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, as a professor and social worker, respectively, will follow secondary stories taking place all over the world. “It’s very much attached to this idea of quantum entanglement, the idea of two things at great distances away connected to one another. One of the hallmarks of the show is that something that happens 10,000 miles away can affect the story here. As you watch, you’ll try to guess how they’re connected.”
Kring has explored the concept of interconnectivity before in his series Crossing Jordan and Heroes, and although he didn’t consult neurologists, he did heavily research and interview scientists “about the idea that there are recurring patterns that explain things in nature, that we’re all connected in ways that are much deeper and more meaningful than we even know.” But for all its mystical elements, Touch “feels very grounded in reality,” Kring emphasizes. “It’s a very human story about a father and a son.”