Greg Dixon 's Opinion

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

TV review: Touch fails to make contact with reality

Kiefer Sutherland (right), here with his on-screen son played by David Mazouz, seemd to be playing 24's Jack Bauer again in his new series Touch. Photo / AP
Kiefer Sutherland (right), here with his on-screen son played by David Mazouz, seemd to be playing 24's Jack Bauer again in his new series Touch. Photo / AP

Mr Tim Kring,

What the hell was that?

Sorry to be so rude, but as the end credits of your new, uber-hyped show Touch (8.30pm, Sundays, TV3) rolled across my television screen, I sat there scratching my head and wondering whether it is you who is mad or me?

I know the first episode of Touch had something to do with cellphones. And the numbers 3, 1, and 8. I did establish that the child who keeps writing figures down on bits of paper is mute, and that the Arab one who ended up with a suicide bomb strapped to him was keen to get hold of an oven for his mother.

But there were so many things I just couldn't work out. Like why is the show called Touch when Kiefer Sutherland seems, more or less, to be playing 24's Jack Bauer again? And why did the mute kid keep climbing cellphone towers? And how was it that smartphone - the one containing photographs of the dead child and the video of that woman singing in a pub in Dublin - kept moving around the world at such speed and just happened to turn up half a world away in no time all? It was quite convenient for the plot, I admit, but terribly confusing for the viewer.

Then, of course, there was that bit where all those cellphones in the mute kid's room started ringing with the same number at the same time - ooh, spooky - and caused Jack Bauer to get all excited but didn't, despite him being an ex-journalist, make him actually answer the phones to find out who was calling. How terribly odd.

But not as curious as Jack Bauer leaving it for years (his son is 11) before he finally typed "mute plus cellphones" into Google to discover the mysterious organisation the "Teller Institute", which seems to know all about his mute son. Surely, because he appears so concerned about his boy, he'd have googled "mute plus cellphones" the first time his mute boy started mucking about with cellphones? Apparently not. I can only conclude that the reason Jack Bauer is an ex-journalist is because he is so obviously crap at basic journalism, let alone basic parenting.

Now Mr Kring, I know you specialise in writing what the pointy heads and geeks call "meta drama" - and I have to say I did enjoy the first series of Heroes. It was equally perplexing at times, if I'm honest, but at least it had a few laughs and didn't suffer from the unforgivable crime of taking itself so bloody seriously.

Not only was the first episode of Touch full of plot holes - not good for a plot rather than character-driven drama - but it was so boringly earnest too.

Perhaps your next episode will be more comprehensible, less po-faced. But I won't be holding my breath, I'll be heading for the medicine cabinet instead. Today might be Thursday and the first episode of Touch might have screened on Sunday in New Zealand (and getting a repeat on Saturday), but I've still got a headache from its awkward, confusing melange of pretentiousness supernatural tosh and sentimental drivel.


Bewildered of Balmoral


- NZ Herald

Greg Dixon

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

It has been said the only qualities essential for real success in journalism are a rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability. Despite having none of these things, Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. Although it has been rumoured that he embarked on his journalism career as the result of a lost bet, the truth is that although he was obsessed by the boy reporter Tintin as a child, he originally intended to be an accountant. Instead, after a long but at times spectacularly bad stint at university involving two different institutions, a year as a studio radio programme director and a still uncompleted degree, he fell into journalism, a decision his mother has only recently come to terms with. A graduate of the Auckland Institute of Technology (now AUT) journalism school, he was hired by the Herald on graduation in 1992 and spent the next eight years demonstrating little talent for daily news, some for television reviewing and a passable aptitude for long-form feature writing. Before returning to the Herald in 2008 to take up his present role, he spent three years as a freelance, three as a senior feature writer at Metro and one as a staff writer at North & South. As deputy editor of Canvas, his main responsibility is applauding the decisions of the editor, Michele Crawshaw. However he prefers to spend his time interviewing interesting people -- a career highlight was a confusing 15-minute phone interview with a stoned Anna Nicole Smith -- and pretending to understand what they're going on about. He has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

Read more by Greg Dixon

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