The biggest problem with Touch as a series is the concept the show is based around. Yes, the idea of connecting people for their own good is something that can get tiresome after the first episode, but the fact that these characters must be brought together from all around the world to prove the show’s point is one that doesn’t really work, especially week to week. Creator Tim Kring has had this problem before with Heroes, but with that show he picked a specific group to follow and they intentionally were trying to find one another. With Touch, the cast changes each week and the threads between connections really stretch at points. With “Safety in Numbers,” Touch focuses more on the connections in one area and the show succeeds more, even if it still does have the distractions of worldwide connections.
“Safety in Numbers” starts out like every episode thus far has. Martin tries his best to convince someone, mostly social worker Clea, that his son Jake isn’t crazy. Meanwhile, Jake escapes and when they find him, he gives him a number that sets him on his journey for the week. This time it leads Martin to a homeless man who believes he is invisible and does tasks to bring people together. What he does sounds surprisingly like Jake, so Martin follows him. The path leads him to a fraud scheme and to find the homeless man’s family, who has wanted to reconnect with him. This all works fine, even if it is a bit convoluted, and we even get a glimpse of Martin’s past as a journalist. I hope that Jake sending his father on these missions eventually leads Martin to find some semblance of who he was prior to his wife’s death. But c’mon, this is Touch, so of course everything is going to work out nicely for Martin.
There are enough connections in the Martin storyline to continue the idea of the show, but “Safety in Numbers” feels it necessary to throw some more in just for the heck of it. We meet a girl who traveled hundreds of miles to finally meet a guy she met on the internet at the most poorly executed dance contest ever. We also travel to South Africa, where a woman is trying to pass a test that will allow her to move to the city and help another woman who is being attacked by her husband. A group of kids in South Africa also break into a computer lab to compete in the same dance contest. Just a small aside: what dance contest would pit dancers against people online, where things can easily be altered, and also allow underage children to compete online without permission? Plus, since when is there absolutely no time difference between the United States and South Africa? I’ve got to think Fox may be testing the idea of a new reality TV show…
These extra side moments don’t feel necessary to the show as a whole. The main plot has plenty of twists and turns that, if handled well, could be satisfying on their own. I couldn’t care less about the two girls who traveled to America and are basically the personification of Pay It Forward that we’ve seen through each episode. The show doesn’t need to expand as widely as it does. If it decided to tell a more centralized story, it would work much better. Basically, Touch needs to be more Crash than Babel.
Touch ends as it always does, with Martin and Jake having a moment at Jake’s bedside where Martin can recap the day’s events in his own way. We also get the Jake voiceover, giving random facts about the human population in general. These are two ideas that are already getting annoying. We don’t need a summary and commentary on what we are seeing—trust the audience to know what the overall theme of what they are watching is. Don’t shove it down our throats.
Touch is still working out the kinks, and it gets more right than last week’s “1+1=3” debacle. At least the show decides to give us some more insight into who Martin is and does centralize the story a bit more. But Touch needs to decide what story it wants to tell. Does it want to tell us the story of this father and son connecting, or does it want to tell extra stories with superfluous characters that don’t matter in the long run? The show can do both if handled well, but so far it hasn’t proven that it can handle an entire world of people and their problems in a successful way.