Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 6:11 p.m.
If you watched the first episode of Touch, which Fox previewed back in January, and enjoyed it, you should probably quit while you’re ahead. The show properly premieres this week, and every subsequent episode is essentially a rehash of the first, re-emphasizing all of its faults while enhancing none of its meager strengths. Kiefer Sutherland stars as frustrated dad Martin Bohm, whose 10-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz) may have autism and has never spoken a word. Jake’s real condition seems to be plot-device-itis, since his function is to lead all the other characters where they’re destined to go, thanks to his magical connection to the universe.
In each episode, Jake writes down a bunch of numbers in his little notebook and forces both Martin and Jake’s social worker (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to follow his frustrating clues that coincidentally end up helping people. It’s a miniature version of one of those obnoxious “everything is connected” movies like Crash or Babel every week, with the annoying, overbearing Jake bullying people into being nice to each other (or doing seemingly random things so that somewhere halfway across the world, something positive will happen for someone else).
Creator Tim Kring proved with Heroes that he loves ponderous voiceover and overdetermined pseudo-profound moments that are actually meaningless, and Touch takes those elements and amplifies them into an entire show, without cool superhero battles to offset them. What starts out as irritating eventually becomes insulting, and instead of opening our eyes to the mysteries of the universe, Touch comes off like a cheap parlor trick.