Touch, And Its Liberal/Conservative Messages

With House drawing to a close, Kish and I are casting about for another TV show to watch on a regular basis.  We’ve watched the first few episodes of the new Fox series Touch, and it’s intriguing enough that we’ll keep watching.

The show’s back story is complicated.  Kiefer Sutherland is Martin, a former reporter whose wife was killed on September 11.  Since then, he’s bounced from job to job and struggled to connect with his 11-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz).  Jake has never spoken and screams if he is touched by another human being, but his calm inner voice narrates the episodes.  It turns out that he is one of a handful of people who see the numerical patterns in the world that connect us all.  With the help of a rogue psychologist played by Danny Glover, Martin has figured out that Jake is trying to communicate with him through numbers and guide him to help make connections between people.  In the meantime, the state Department of Social Services, through a social worker played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, questions Martin’s ability to care for Jake and may take him away.  Throw in two giggly young Japanese women who wear ridiculous outfits and pop up from time to time and a cell phone that is being randomly passed from person to person, and you’ve got the general gist of the show.  (Whew!)

The show features an interesting interplay of messages.  The notion that we all are interconnected, and that a bottle cap placed under a school window in Africa might later affect a crowd at an international dance contest, has obvious touchy-feely, let’s all have a good hug New Age heightened consciousness overtones.

At the same time, however, there seems to be a definite conservative, anti-government message lurking underneath.  Jake is well-fed and lives in a safe, secure home; why is a busybody government agency pestering Martin and presuming to judge whether he is fit to care for his son?  And although the government agency blames Martin for incidents where Jake escapes his school and climbs to the top of towers, after the agency takes Jake for evaluation it incompetently lets him escape, too.  And the positive connections that are made are solely the result of the actions of Jake, Martin, and other individuals — not any government program or bureaucracy.

If you’re in the mood for some frivolity when the 9 p.m. Thursday showtime rolls around, play a drinking game where you take a swig of your adult beverage of choice every time Martin shouts “Jake!”  (Of course, Jake doesn’t answer — you’d think Martin would have learned that by now.)  But pace yourself — with Jake’s escape artist abilities and the ineptitude of the social workers, it happens dozens of times an episode.  If you don’t watch out, by the end of the show you’ll be seeing your own special patterns in the world around us.

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Lonesome Dove

I don’t watch much TV anymore.  I’ve heard there are good shows out there, but few of them really capture my interest.  And, one of the TV genres that I enjoyed the most — the mini-series — seems to have fallen completely out of fashion.

You can argue about the best TV show ever, but in my view there is no question about the best TV mini-series ever.  It’s Lonesome Dove, hands down.  It was much anticipated because the book of the same name was extremely popular and the cast — which featured, among others, Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and Danny Glover — was fantastic.  When the show finally aired, it was even better than people expected.  The production was fabulous, and you simply could not wait until the next episode, to see what happened with Captain McCrae, Captain Call, Clara, Deets, Dish, Newt, Pea Eye, Jake Spoon, Blue Duck, and the other characters.

My favorite part of the mini-series came near the end, when the resolute Captain Call, fulfilling a deathbed promise, hauled his friend’s body hundreds of miles to be buried next to a stream where he had courted the love of his life.  I always thought that series of scenes, performed against the backdrop of some terrific, stirring music, totally captured the deep, largely non-verbal attachment between Call and McCrae.

There were many great scenes in Lonesome Dove, however — and the scene below, which features Gus in all his glory, is a pretty good one, too.