Thursday, October 18, 2012

Touch now touching on DVD

FOX presented a very strange show last year called Touch, the complete first season of which is now available on  DVD. It is mostly a procedural, with each episode finding Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland, 24) following clues left by his autistic son, Jake (David Mazouz, Amish Grace), who doesn't talk, to help someone in need. But it is also an anthology series, with several plots going on around the world every week, oftentimes connected to one another in unexpected ways. And it is also a mystery, as we don't know why Jake sees the numbers, or who may be trying to stop him from seeing the numbers.

The premise of Touch is that there is a connectedness to the world that can be explained with mathematics. Jake can see this, while almost everyone else cannot. Somehow, it isn't really explained how, these patterns track the movements of people. Jake wants Martin to help preserve the patterns, tying together two pieces of string that may have become disconnected. What happens if he doesn't? Will the entire tapestry fall apart? That seems unlikely. More probable is that Martin can use the pattern to make others' lives better, and that's what Jake wants.

This can all be very confusing, and understandably so. What starts off as a highly intriguing "Pilot," full of magic and wonder, soon settles into a head spinning series. Viewers may want more of the answers, but instead, all we get are small pieces to a puzzle we don't have a finished picture of to guide us. If creator Tim Kring can be trusted, a risk to be sure after the disappointing Heroes, there should be some major payoffs down the road. But for now, little is explained. We just know that life is great, and coincidences are supposedly predetermined, if you know how to see them.

While Jake and Martin are the central characters, a few others play a role in their lives. In season, Jake is placed in a home under the care of social worker Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Undercovers, Doctor Who). She slowly starts to see what Martin sees, and is torn between her superiors, who appear to have a hand in preventing anyone from following these numbers, and wanting to help Martin help people. There is also professor Arthur DeWitt (Danny Glover, Lethal Weapon, Brothers & Sisters), who has worked with children like Jake before, and offers his assistance to Martin.

What is going on among these four is definitely the meat of Touch, and the most engaging of the many elements. While other tales may be neat and inspiring, they don't mean as much, since we don't know the characters. Whenever one of them enters into Martin's direct arc, it gives a greater weight to the plot, while those less obviously connected seem less important. Touch is still struggling to find the balance of these elements throughout this freshman run.

In the season finale, the two part "Gyre," the game changes significantly, providing a tangent that should move season two in bigger directions, giving more attention to the mythology and the larger arcs. I won't go into much detail, because I hope you might check out these episodes and see how it plays out for yourself, but "Gyre" opens the door for a notably different second season. Should the series whole-heartedly go with this turn, Touch might become one of the best shows on television. For now, it's just an interesting curiosity, which may or may not pay off down the road.

Whether this happens or not, Touch isn't quite like anything else on television, which when combined with a truly terrific cast, makes it worth watching. The eleven episodes of season one are clearly just an appetizer for what is planned, and if there is a plan, I look forward to a delicious multi-course meal in the coming years.

On this three disc DVD set, there are a handful of special features. The "Pilot" is presented in an extended version, and some deleted scenes are included. Two featurettes, "Touch the World" and "Fate's Equation," get into the mechanics of the series a bit, but do not really provide more understanding than what is contained in the episodes. Like the show, they are interesting, but murky in their significance.

Touch The Complete First Season is available now on DVD.

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