Touch Season 2 Premiere Review: (Toughened-up) Variations on a Theme

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Feb 09, 2013

Touch S02E01 / S02E02: “Event Horizon” / “Closer”

Touch returned tonight with a special two-hour premiere and I was nervous about this one, kids. The "bonus" episode that aired in the fall was a far cry from from the awesomeness we glimpsed during the first season. I mean, let’s not pull any punches here, it was a massive disappointment—maybe even a suckfest—and I vowed at the time that if such episodes were to be the new status quo when Touch returned for Season 2, I would not be sticking around.

Well, I’m pleased and delighted to report that based on "Event Horizon" and "Closer," Touch appears to be every bit as trippy and magical as when we last saw it (not counting that god-awful “bonus” episode, of course). However, it's no longer the same soft-spoken, starry-eyed new kid in school. The show hit the gym in the off-season, bulked up, got a few tattoos, and started incorporating more black into its wardrobe. It looks a little different on the surface, but I think it has the same heart.

Most importantly, Jake is back! Hi Jake! Missed you! Kisses! Jake is still a cute-as-a-button ball of fierce that communes with God or fate or the universe or whatever. You know, just doing his thing. One noticeable variation on last season’s theme, though, is that Jake’s “thing” appears to be much more localized, focused on himself and his companions. Sure, there’s that crazy dude who's wandering around Europe killing people who apparently blasphemed against God or don’t love him enough or something, and he’s got Jake’s picture in his files, which means things are going to get dicey later, but in the meantime, Jake, Martin, and newcomer Amelia’s Mom Lucy are on the other side of the world getting closer to—but always just missing—Amelia herself.

Toning down the one-world-kumbaya-group-hug aspect of Touch’s story definitely runs the risk of alienating fans who are looking for a weekly dose of mushy feelings. The series is now firmly entrenched in action-adventure-sometimes-thriller territory as we focus more on Jake and his family’s immediate experiences with the sinister Aster Corps. There’s more running, hiding, and infiltrating with Kiefer Sutherland being a badass and enlisting a friend’s Wikileaks clone organization for all his altruistic hacking needs. I’m torn on the change myself, even though I totally get why Touch felt the need to “toughen up” a little bit. Ratings slipped as the novelty of the the convoluted weekly stories wore off and I’ll freely admit that the middle of the show’s inaugural season suffered from a case of aimless wandering. Each viewing became less about engaging with the story and more about some contest I was running in my head to see if I could guess where the writers were going before they got there. The fact that I was REALLY good at it by the end of the first season betrays how quickly the concept grew tired.

But at the same time, I’ll freely admit that I’m exactly the type of person who should have found Touch’s occasionally saccharine Season 1 stories hokey and contrived. You have the cute magical kid who quietly brings joy and delight to everything and everyone he touches... oh yeah, I should have hated it. Cheesy feel-good TV? Not really my thing. But maybe I’m getting soft in my old age because even when Touch became, well, kinda boring, I admired its sincere optimism. It was a very positive series, and we live in a time when a lot of successful television is cynical and dark. It was the goodie-two-shoes TV show, but it was still likeable.

And it still IS likeable. I promise. There are more guns and goons and a hint of gore, but there are still moments that make you go “awww” where apparent strangers bring good things to each others’ lives with both grand and modest gestures and everyone has a purpose and blah blah music of the spheres blah blah. The tighter story was desperately needed. Evolution is essential to survival, and the more action-oriented plot could draw in some new viewers even on Friday nights. As long as I can recognize the Touch I fell in love with beneath this tough new exterior, I won’t be going anywhere and I hope neither will you.


Did you watch the episode? What did you think?



NOTES


Gugu Mbatha-Raw won’t be returning for Season 2. No more Clea! I’m kinda bummed about that. :(

Maria Bello plays Lucy, and is already confirmed to be leaving the show. So do you think they’ll kill her off or is this Amelia storyline going to get wrapped up a lot sooner than expected?

– Any theories about that crazy assassin guy? I initially thought he was killing off the 36 righteous people, but what do you think?

– Poll! Will you be tuning in for the second season of Touch? Absolutely? Or not so much?

  • Comments (47)
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  • MarlboroMagpi Feb 12, 2013

    I agree with most of your review. I thought the original Touch season 1 pilot was fantastic but it did get kind of boring at the end of season 1. The show had to tough up or it would surely die. I am glad it did. This 2 episodes did not feel boring at all. Things are at least moving. I thought that crazy guy might be killing off the 36 whom are not using their talents anymore so he might not harm Jake if he knew he was still serving God. Then again he is crazy so I guess the writers could give him some twisted logic. Amelia really look kind of different. I know its been 3 years and they probably got another actress but that casting not really good. She does not look like the younger version at all.

  • DuoMaxwell007 Feb 11, 2013

    – Gugu Mbatha-Raw won't be returning for Season 2. No more Clea! I'm kinda bummed about that. :(

    I knew she wasnt gonna be in season 2 but i thought she was at least gonna get a "final episode" or at the very least the actors mention/explain her disappearence

  • smithinjapan Feb 11, 2013

    Sorry, I gave it a shot, but it's as crappy as ever. It was nice to see the story behind the code and the story arcs that can play off of it, but the writing is still incredibly weak. I mean, how many times does the master assassin have to drop his file so the audience can see who's next? It's some of the most blatant exposition I've seen in a while. The blank stares at the camera by Jake and Amelia were tough to watch not because of any kind of sentimentality, but because it was embarrassingly bad. Lucy runs screaming and kicking after an armed man for a girl she thinks is her daughter, then completely trusts Kiefer's character when he says he needs to 'go it alone' despite just having met him and saying, "I've been looking for a reason not to trust him". And again, I ask: does Kiefer have asthma? Why is he ALWAYS out of breath?

    Sorry, but Touch will never make it to season three, and once again we've seen good shows passed up in favor of bad shows going on and failing miserably. I'll be surprised if they don't have season two cut very shortly.

  • Glimmy Feb 10, 2013

    The kid is just too annoying. This is mainly due to the 'condition' the writers have saddled the character with. This condition means he is unable to develop any outwardly obvious emotional bonds with other people, not even with his own father. I know there are people like this in the real word, but this is the tv world, the main purpose of which is to entertain. The fact Jake is unable to develop a bond with others creates an emotional void in the show. This and the fact he is constantly running away and being pursued by his hapless father gets old very quickly. The kid cannot show he cares so basically we don't care. Not a recipe for a successful show.

  • Marburg66 Feb 11, 2013

    That's one way to look at it. Another way is to recognize how much Jake has changed so far. He's growing more emotionally, more open socially & given his narration at the front of the show, the little dude's probably gonna speak soon too. I saw the same show you claimed to see & yet I've noticed the marked difference in the character.

  • Glimmy Feb 16, 2013

    When you say Jake has changed I agree, but the changes are still within the constraints of a character who cannot demonstrate love, loyalty or connection in a way which is recognisable to the average person. Most people who watch TV are 'average', therein lies the weakness of the show.

  • smithinjapan Feb 11, 2013

    If you want to take his female counterpart Amelia as any indication of how one can grow (in relation to where Jake is now), you may be correct.

  • Marburg66 Feb 11, 2013

    you seem to assume Amelia's autistic. I really don't remember any episode earlier where they established that autism is a prerequisite to being one of the 36.

  • smithinjapan Feb 12, 2013

    But that's part of where I said you may be right in terms of 'growing'. There were scenes where Amelia indeed seemed to have some degree of autism -- the sudden tantrum about wanting to go home, then calmed and spaced out, rocking slightly. The other 36 all seem to be adults, from what we've seen so far -- perhaps it's a growth thing, as you suggested. You said yourself you think Jake has been changing (growing), and will eventually speak. Amelia is slightly older, so perhaps she is further down the path, and the adults already grown out of it.

    Just a twist in your idea. I still think the show is tripe and am not going to watch it any further. The scenes with Lucy were particularly annoying and her character constantly contradictory.

  • smithinjapan Feb 11, 2013

    I agree. What's more, the looks the kid gives to Kiefer et al at the token moments are just too contrived and make it embarrassing to watch.

  • Shreela Feb 10, 2013

    I dropped Touch. If I see buzz about it, I'll catch up on it over the summer, maybe.

  • smithinjapan Feb 10, 2013

    It wasn't just the bonus episode that sucked, but much of the show as a whole aside from the premiere -- it's predictable, has poor emotional scoring (too cheesy with little balance), and Kiefer always sounds like he's having an asthma attack. I'll check out the premiere on the positive review by MaryAnne, but in all likelihood I'll be ditching this show pretty quick.

  • bkyle2429 Feb 10, 2013

    Touch with a doubt a top 5 show period, great 2 hours, nice to see Jake opening up a bit!! had no problems with Lucy and made a friend, earlier reach out to his dad just great, we are getting answers maybe too quickly, but with Maria Bello leaving maybe that is why!!

  • smithinjapan Feb 10, 2013

    It could also be because they know the show has a shelf-live and not much time left. Season two was already delayed until now due to a lack of interest (in favour of some other crappy show!), but we'll see. The show has had its moments, but I think it was not a wise decision to recontract for a second season, and I highly doubt it'll see a third if it manages to finish the second.

  • qscqscqsc Feb 10, 2013

    i hate the dad so damn much. what was with that scene were the exchange with the money for his dad and he runs up scares the guy so they start shooting

  • bkyle2429 Feb 10, 2013

    if Martin did interfere the Guy and Dad would be dead!!!

  • J_Pip Feb 10, 2013

    MaryAnn if you could, please incorporate whether Kiefer Sutherland overacts every scene and constantly breathes heavy like he's fighting terrorists in 24. I really like the premise of this show but that drives me insane. Thank in advance!

  • bkyle2429 Feb 10, 2013

    Kiefer is not overacting!!! he is playing just a plain dude that is not used to fighting running acting franticly hence the breathing!!

  • J_Pip Feb 10, 2013

    haha ok that makes more sense. But the request remains. There should be a meter for how out of breath Kiefer is for the particular episode.

  • mrstastyface Feb 09, 2013

    I do miss the heartwarming subplots of last season and do hope the series returns to that. Those touchpoints were the magic that kept me coming back every week. Turning it into a slasher action thriller just makes it like every other show in that genre. And I'm not a fan of the religious fanaticism angle... I liked that Touch was about the mysteries of the universe and was spiritual without being specific to one god or religion. I loved the Japanese girls, the cell phone, the firefighter, the Invisible Prince, and how they were woven into the story. At the heart should be Martin and Jake's relationship and how Jake is communicating through numbers, not how they'll keep Aster Corp from taking over the world. I prefer for Aster Corp to be a background threat rather than front-and-center.

    I hate to hear that Maria Bello won't be staying; I'm a big fan.

  • MichaelMcLaug2 Mar 09, 2013

    I totally agree. I loved the Japanese girls and and all the other different people from all over the world. Each episode was way more emotional than any this season. Now it's all about the one story of finding Amelia, Astercorp etc. It's still enjoyable and a huge drop from last season where I thought it was quite magical.

  • GrammieKari Feb 24, 2013

    You have described exactly how I feel!! There was a pleasant moment when Fluffy, the bunny got lost and Jake found her. I was surprised that he allowed the other children to touch him. He smiled happily. I never watched "24" but others are saying that Martin is turning into a similar character. I am not pleased.

  • bkyle2429 Feb 10, 2013

    plenty of subplots the only difference they are a little closer to home!!!

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