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.
– 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?