Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Touch of Class

Few upcoming shows are getting as much attention as Fox’s Touch, scheduled for a Spring premiere. And why shouldn’t it? With Kiefer Sutherland in the leading role (his first since 24), the creator of Heroes and Crossing Jordan at its helm, and a hopeful premise, Touch seems to have everything going for it from the start.

I’ll leave it to the Hollywood gossips and rumor mills to speculate and report on the more mundane aspects of production; they’ll focus on the cast, the guest stars, and the eventual fans that Touch richly deserves. Meanwhile, I’ll focus on the show’s strongest asset. No, it’s not Sutherland. It’s not even Kring. What this show has is a heart and a soul, both of which are sorely lacking from much of today’s television landscape.

Touch has begun to go viral, with the teaser recently being shown at MIPCOM a few days ago. The Hollywood Reporter picked up a story about it. But what does anyone really know about Touch, other than what little has been leaked or shown? There is such a disconnect between the publicity and gossip surrounding a show, that often, the show’s true colors are lost in the hype. In the case of Touch, this disconnect is unfortunate, because Touch is a gem waiting to be admired for its very real inner beauty.

This is a show that will stand out because of its complex simplicity. It isn’t a drama that involves backstabbing characters who all have their motivations and personal demons. It’s not a reality show where ordinary people compete for some huge prize. Nor is it an action adventure with the fate of the world at stake. It’s none of those, yet it has elements of all of those, mixed and simmered in the creative mind of a man who has something relevant to say.

There is nothing about Tim Kring that suggests that he has written several hit shows. He’s quiet and soft-spoken, thoughtful, and articulate. There is an energy about him when he is in his element, the writing room of a new show: it’s an intense, focused energy, and yet there is a sense of both exhilaration and purpose. Perhaps is it that combination that contributes to his success as a writer and producer; it certainly leads to Kring being involved in almost every aspect of his shows, and the attention he pays to the smallest detail such as the way a newly introduced character’s hair swirls as she gets up from a couch, or the slightest vocal inflection in his lead character’s offhand comment. Watching Kring at work, reviewing scenes, changing them, splicing them together, one gets a sense of the pride and artistry he puts in to everything he does. And yet, there is a feeling of eagerness as the crew watches the show come together, giving the sense that the writers, cast, and crew are not only putting their minds into their work, but their hearts and souls as well.

It is quite clear that, as with Heroes, this is a show that offers a hopeful vision of humanity, one where everyone is connected and no one is alone. It is a vision that is sorely needed on television. But unlike so many shows about humanity’s fate, Touch delivers its message with an immediacy and believability that has been absent from the airwaves for a while. While Touch is the brainchild of many brilliant artists, it is that believability which makes Touch the classy, much needed show that it is.

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