Thursday, January 26, 2012

Touch - My Review

Last night, Fox aired the pilot episode of "Touch." The story-line follows Martin Bohm, a former journalist and current baggage handler; father of Jake, his non-verbal 11 year old son that is said to be autistic. Jake is not just fascinated with numbers, but explains in his voice-overs that his job is to "make the connections for those who need to find each other - the ones who lives need to touch."

This is an interesting concept, that everyone's lives are connected in some way and that this special child can see how they all connect. Carol Barbee (Executive Producer of "Touch") states "I hope that viewers will come away with an awareness for the effects that they have on people and a drive to do good work in the real world. I hope people understand the power of an individual, you have no idea the power of your reach on a daily basis or how many lives you touch."  I tend to like shows that get tied up with a nice, neat bow every episode and make you feel good. But surely, not every episode will be like that...right?

I have a son with Autism, but he is not exceptionally good with numbers and he is verbal. It would be very difficult and extremely different to have a child with Autism and not be able to know what was going on in his mind. My son's brain is somewhat of a mystery to me; I feel like I've done research, talked to professionals, and pay attention to him enough to know (somewhat) what he is feeling, what he is thinking, and what he might need. Now, I'm not saying that it's easy or that I'm always right, but I do have the benefit of having his verbal responses in the strategies that I try.

I have some questions about the boy being autistic...just because Jake is nonverbal, and has never spoken, does not necessarily mean he has Autism.  I have to assume that somewhere in his past, he was diagnosed based on what we see in the pilot.  I do hope that people do not get the idea that every child with Autism has some sort of gift that can save the world, though.  My son does not....although he's funny, he's smart, and very clever...but I am under no illusion that he's going to save the world.  While I am thankful that autism has been getting more air play in recent years, I have concerns that 'mythical' portrayals of autistic children possessing special abilities will be of greater disservice to those with the disorder and those of us that raise them....

So far, reviewers comments consist of the negative, like Maureen Ryan of Huffington Post, say "But 'Touch' isn't content to let its premise breathe; it hammers home its central points so frequently that I do not recommend that you drink every time you hear the words 'destiny,' 'dreams' or any iteration of the word  'connect.' It's common for pilots to restate their central themes frequently, but 'Touch' goes overboard in that regard."

There seem to be no rules with this story-line and each week the plot will spiral out from Jake, his father, and apparently the social worker, to the rest of the world. Danny Glover is the eccentric professor who explains the "Fibonacci Sequence" to Martin and explains that his child has a very special gift. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter comments that "the notion of a kid, say one with autism, seeing patterns in nature and the universe would make a lot of sense and why Tim Kring (creator of 'Touch' and also 'Heroes') mostly disavowing that in favor of 'Touch' being 'more of a mystical or spiritual idea' that also taps into both science and randomness is both an intriguing new tack."  

Did you watch the show? What are your thoughts?


  1. I personally really loved it! I read several interviews with the cast and the creator of the show, and they've stated several times that the premise of the show was about a boy who was misdiagnosed with autism, and found instead to have a very unique, supernatural gift. So I knew right away that this show wasn't going to talk much about autism at all.

    On the flip side, the few instances where they focus on his "autism" were times I could relate to. My daughter spent so much of her life not being verbal or making eye contact with anyone. I still have times where I look at her and wonder what's going on in there. I've looked at school buses, longingly, as if to say, "Oh the life my daughter could've had..." So, in many small ways, I very much relate to the dad, who is just trying to figure out how to communicate with his son.

    I think if people look at this TV Show as if it's supposed to be educational or descriptive about what autism is - those people will be greatly disappointed. It's a tv show, after all, not to be taken seriously, something simply for entertainment purposes. I intend to continue watching the show once it officially starts in March =)

    1. I will definitely be watching it, as well. There are other shows out there that have characters that probably have Asperger's, but it's never mentioned and the shows are popular. So, I think that just because a character may or may not have it, shouldn't determine it's fate. Any exposure that the general public has about Autism, or any other disability, I would hope would be good! :-)

  2. thanks for stopping by!

    Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days.. so you still have time to show off some CNY greetings :) I'd be sharing more on Chinese and Japanese culture on my blog so drop by whenever you can. Have a great weekend!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  3. Hi! This is my first time here.

    I LOVE this review. I feel the same way. I think it's great that Autism is entering mainstream television, however, this show kind of supports the Rain Man myth. Not all of our kids are supernatural savants.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I think many of today's younger generation doesn't even know about "RainMan," but I think just about everyone could identify with a Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, for istance. So I agree, it's great that television is showing more than one type of child on the spectrum.