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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Touch: Fractals, Heroes, and 24

Touch joins Awake as one of the most intelligent shows on television - with heart and soul as well as intellect - refreshing, very complex, provocative, and altogether welcome.

Two great forces of popular culture come to bear in Touch - Kiefer Sutherland, who looks and sounds almost exactly the same as 24's Jack Bauer on Touch, and creator Tim Kring, who brought us Heroes.

Kiefer plays Martin Bohm, father of 10-year old Jake, who's mute and diagnosed as autistic, but is much much more.   Jake does have an incredible memory - like the classic idiot savant - but he also can see, intuit, understand the fractal nature of the universe, or the interconnected patterns of everything around us.  This part of the story - fractals - is science not science fiction.  Why, for example, do leafs and bird wings have the same patterns, when they have no evolutionary connection?   The universe, it seems, offers up a given series of templates - which harken, in a sense, to Plato's ideal forms.

But Jake sees much more than this, and here is where the wonder and amazement of science fiction come in.  Not only is Jake sympatico with fractals, but with quantum mechanics, and the part of it that compresses past, present, and future into an omnipresent now.   In plain English, Jake not only sees the interconnections, but where they can lead.   His chosen job is to get silent word out about bad futures to his father, so Martin can do something to avert them.

The pilot has two distinct stories, both connected via Martin, otherwise distinct from each other.  One concerns a smart phone that someone loses at the airport, which Martin gets his hands on, but before he can return to the owner,  gets called away to help get Jake down from a steep construction site on which he has climbed.  Good thing, too, because that phone set loose in the world eventually leads to stopping a suicide bomber, and making a singer famous.   The other plot concerns a firefighter who almost saved Jake's mother's (Martin's wife's) life on 9/11, and has felt guilty about that ever since.  Jake's interventions lead to a school bus of kids saved and the firefighter reclaiming his sense of self-worth.  Both of these happy endings follow a long series of apparently unrelated events, and the fun  is in seeing how these events all tie into one another - see, that is, what Jake already knows.

Meanwhile, Martin learns more of what's happening in Jake's head from Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a sage old guy in the Bronx.   With Martin now realizing at least part of what Jake is up to do, the stage is set for some wild, complicated stories in which Martin tries to pick up on Jake's leads to shape the future.

Heroes meets 24?   That's just the past, Touch is the future, and I'm looking forward to more (including that 24 movie which is somewhere still to be made).

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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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