Saturday, April 14, 2012

Touch Review by a Friend

I have been super busy lately and my friend asked if he could write a review on the TV show 'Touch'.  Since I haven't posted lately and am still super busy I said he could.... Here is his review.

"I'm sure you all know *that* kid. Y'know, the slightly sociopathic one, whose antisocial tendencies lead to spurts and bouts of anger, causing awkward life and death situations everywhere? That one kid who threw temper tantrums at the slightest notice, ruled his parents, broke laws left and right, violated privacy and etiquette on a minute-to-minute basis?

You don't know that kid?

Oh, well, then. You haven't seen Touch.

Touch is a Fox Drama for 2012, scheduled for 13 episodes. Created and written by a guy you've never heard of, who's done shows you've never watched, Tim Kring. The only important actor is Kiefer Southerland, actor for over 70 movies, and the famous role of Jack Bauer in 24.

JAKE "Pure Evil" BOHM
There. Got all the boring stuff over with. Now, let's talk about the show. I've seen two out of the four episodes released, so I am clearly an award winning expert on the subject. Going back to THAT KID from my intro, we find him here, as the main character: a kid named Jake, an autistic savant who can predict the future, draw numbers repetitively, and tick me off at a level I never thought possible.

Here's the deal: he is, quite possibly, one of the worst kids you will ever meet. Half of every episode is spent with his father constantly swooping in to save this little chap from getting run over, squashed, lost, murdered, falling, and any other number of deaths that normal people can avoid relatively easily. Why? Because this kid will walk up to a person's home, open the door, and begin rummaging through stuff. Yup. Don't worry about the police in your house, worry about Jake Bohm, Small Medium at Large.

The thing is, it's for a reason. Supposedly. Because of the fact that Jake can predict the future, the writer felt a need to balance this with a fatal flaw: the kid can't talk. Sure, he can monologue to the audience, which makes for a nice wrap up, but unfortunately, the dad can't hear those. So, the only way Jake can communicate with other people is by breaking into houses, standing in the middle of four lanes of oncoming traffic, and breaking out of every facility he's placed in.

Ok, ok. I need to cool it for a sec, here. Let's look at the rest of the show, then, before we come back to this Jake character.

The show has a simple enough premise: one number will be "found" by the kid, given to his father, and start showing up in the stupidest possible places, drawing together eight or so perfect strangers in a tightly woven mass of plot contrived situations which will end up changing their lives in deep ways before we never see them again.

So, how good is it? Well, the story is fairly decent: they do a good job of avoiding the cliches, it's pretty engaging, fast paced, so on and so forth. Would I recommend watching it? Well, it depends. Many of the moments shown in "Touch" are quite well written, even heartwarming. A few bits of comedy (all too sparse, if you ask me) are given to us as well. Indeed, the writing overall is very solid.

On the other hand, the show has some mixed messages, and the theology is... well, let's look at it.


So, one of the most unusual premises of the show is that there's a plan. Yup, you read that right. There's an EXTREMELY providential plan in every single episode. This is a welcome change from Hollywood's normal "Change Destiny" shtick. However, the execution of the plan is the problem. See, it's not God's plan (heaven forbid an all powerful, all knowing, loving, creator God would know what we need to do): the plan is actually math. Yup.

Nerds everywhere, put down your Klingon-English translators, and get to work. I need you to crack the code and figure out what the algorithm of life is. Seeing as a ten year old has it down pat, I'll give you two weeks and a fridge of Red Bull. Go. See, this show bases the entire premise off of a single algorithm, or freakishly complicated equation, that Jake uses. Only he can see the "patterns" in the world, which, apparently, means he knows the serial number on the bat his dad will need to take out a baddie a week in the future. That's actually from the show, too.

Then, of course, looking at the relationships of "Touch" we see a further problem: every family is fractured. We are presented with a disturbed boy, a divorced father, an under appreciated Indian guy with a weird need to dump his father's ashes in Yankee Stadium... Lots of stuff. We see no functional family, anywhere. Well, save the mafia boss whom we'll never see again, who might be reforming.

The only families we see are fractured, destroyed, supposedly "normal." I understand that the world is indeed like that: but it shouldn't be. If television and movies are like what the world IS, not what the world SHOULD BE, we have a problem. Why? Because movies, television, music, books, media in general is all designed to do one thing: tell us how the world should be. And if it's not improving the world, it's degrading it.

That's my main complaint with Touch: We find no good role models. None. The father can't control the rebellious, dangerous son, the social worker is constantly trying to split them up, and there's a mentor who shows up for a few minutes to handily reveal some more plot.

I'd give the idea 8/10 stars, because it's a very interesting premise: how are eight strangers connected? Answer: providence. However, it's the way in which it is shown to us as viewers that's the problem. 4/10, because we are shown a world that should not be, instead of the world that should.

That's all, and may you never, ever, meet Jack Bohm. Seriously, it's bad for your health."