'Touch' review: Has Kiefer Sutherland found the next 'Heroes'? We hope not

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touch-gallery-martin-jake.jpgIf you go into " Touch" expecting another high-octane "24," you're probably going to be disappointed. If you go into it expecting it to closely resemble "Heroes," you're getting warmer -- but then, if you're a "Heroes" fan, you know disappointment well.

That's not to say you shouldn't watch it. From " Heroes" E.P. Tim Kring and starring Jack Bauer himself, Kiefer Sutherland, the premiere of "Touch" is an extremely enjoyable hour of television. Sutherland's performance is compelling as ever as he plays Martin, an overworked father, widowed by 9/11, desperate to connect with his mute son.

Jake ( David Mazouz), the child, is only heard in voiceover. At first glance, he appears to be autistic, though producers shy away from naming a diagnosis, wanting to focus on Jake's obsession with numbers and patterns for what it is as opposed to attempting to accurately reproesent autism. Without speaking, Mazouz's work comes off as subtle and painful. Basically, we could watch this kid scribble in a notebook all day.

Enter Jake's social worker, Clea ( Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who takes a particular interest in Martin and Jake, urging Martin to institutionalize his son until she begins to take note of the peculiar patterns that Jake recognizes.

The premise of the show, of course, is that Jake is so in tune with the world's patterns that he can predict the future, and that the numbers he obsesses over are actually clues that lead Martin (and, presumably, Clea) to prevent tragedies before they occur. We also meet various figures from all over the world in a very "Heroes"-like way -- the "these people are connected, but why?" question is dropped repeatedly. Like an anvil. On our heads.

The similarities to "Heroes" are, in fact, what give us pause. You'd be hard pressed to find a single television critic - or, for that matter, fan - who felt that "Heroes" delivered on its incredibly promising pilot episode and, indeed, fantastic first season. "Touch" seems to fall into the same storytelling traps: the idea of ordinary people with extraordinary gifts changing the entire world forever. We're not particularly interested in the fate of the planet so much as we are in the fate of the child and his father, so we're hoping it doesn't go too big too fast.

"Touch" premieres Wednesday, Jan 25 -- sort of. The post-"Idol" debut is a 67 minute sneak peek (yes, adjust your DVRs accordingly) at the series, which doesn't make its official debut until Monday, March 19.
Photo/Video credit: FOX