At the center of Touch is Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz). After multiple failed attempts at keeping Jake in school, Martin is visited by Clea Hopkins (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a social worker sent to evaluate Jake’s well-being. Everything changes when Martin discovers that Jake possesses the gift of staggering genius – the ability to see things that no one else can and the patterns that connect seemingly unrelated events. Jake is indeed communicating. But it’s not with words, it’s with numbers. Martin meets Arthur Dewitt (Danny Glover), a professor and an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers. Now, it’s up to Martin to decipher the meaning and connect the numbers to the cast of characters whose lives they affect.
At the TCA winter press tour, Heroes creator Tim Kring shared his enthusiasm about his upcoming FOX drama Touch. “I can’t say enough about [FOX entertainment president] Kevin [Reilly]’s support. It was a script that I thought was a challenging one for a network to want to do to, I frankly didn’t think it would be done at a network. And Kevin read it and believed in it instantly and has absolutely been its tireless champion within the company. So I’m hugely indebted.”
Series star Kiefer Sutherland was also on hand to shed some light on how he landed the lead role and what exactly drew him to a show involving “global unity” and interconnectedness among human lives. Kring admits that he did not write the Martin Bohm character with Sutherland in mind. Additionally, Sutherland wasn’t so much interested in returning to TV after his long run on 24 which only concluded two years ago. But when he read the pilot script he was going to make an exception here. “I remember getting to Page 35 and thinking, ‘Shit. I’m in real trouble here,’ ” Sutherland shared. “The character is so vastly different [from that of 24's Jack Bauer], the tone of the piece is so vastly different. And that’s part of its appeal.” He continued, “I had to read the script twice to make sure that all the things that were affecting me were affecting me on a personal level as opposed to trying to manage a career. Does it happen to be a nice diversion from 24? Yes. I just couldn’t turn this down because it spoke to me on a really profound level.” He added, “My choice to do this had nothing to do with trying to get away from 24. It was because I want to spend hopefully the next seven or eight years sinking my teeth into something interesting.”
Sutherland made a comparison between his iconic 24 role and the new shoes he’s about to fill. “The one parallel between the two characters is Jack Bauer was asked to save the day, and there was always going to be casualties. Martin will never have an idyllic relationship with his son. With both characters, they’ll never completely win, and that’s something I’m drawn to as an actor.” At one point he described the father/son relationship between Martin and Jake as “really beautiful.”
After discussing how and why he positioned himself in the lead role, Sutherland described the logistics of Touch. “Some characters will be woven over [multi-episode] arcs, but Tim and I both learned – he from Heroes and me from 24 — that there is great value in a procedural drama. So every week there will be a set of circumstances set about by Jake that will put Martin in a situation to deal with someone new, and that situation will be resolved. There will be a beginning, a middle and an end, in theory, to every episode.”
Later, it was revealed that Kring’s son is autistic and that he is an inspiration for the show. Touch will explore the facets of autism and “Tim feels very responsible to stay true to [autism] in that regard,” says Sutherland. “So we’re not go to be making stuff up to explain stuff. We’re going to deal with the medicine and what doctors know.”
Before the panel could conclude, critics asked Sutherland about the current status of the 24 movie. He confirmed rumors that shooting will begin “at the end of April, beginning of May.” He teased that the movie is “relatively a direct continuation” of the series finale that aired on FOX in May 2010. We’re talking maybe six months from the end of that episode.” As previously reported, the movie will cover a 24-hour period in about two hours, so obviously it will not be told in real-time like the show was. Last, it was recently announced that Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe will factor into the movie.
Touch premieres March 19. FOX will be airing a preview later this month on January 25 at 9PM.