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On The Tube

March 22, 2012
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By Dean Robbins

‘Touch’ offers up pseudo-religious hokum

TV networks have always had a weakness for mysticism, from “The Twilight Zone” to “The X-Files” to “Lost.” The trick is to keep the audience from laughing at you — a trick that the new “Touch” (Thursday, 8 p.m., Fox) hasn’t quite mastered. Oh, I admit that the story of a mute boy (David Mazouz) with special powers is watchable, thanks to Kiefer Sutherland’s intense performance as his beleaguered dad. But “Touch” takes its own mumbo-jumbo so seriously that it’s hard to get through an hour without a few giggles.

The boy is a mathematical genius, and somehow that gives him a supernatural insight into human destiny. He predicts the future and brings together far-flung individuals who “need” to be brought together. Sutherland is as confused as the viewing audience, so Danny Glover shows up to explain it all. Meanwhile, the filmmakers throw in 9/11, Islamic terrorists, a dead child and any other cheap elements they can think of to raise the stakes.

“Patterns, mathematical in design, are hanging in plain sight,” the boy says in voiceover. “Only a few of us can see the connections.”

The only pattern I perceive is one of TV networks periodically throwing this kind of pseudo-religious hokum against the wall to see if it sticks.

‘Mad Men’

Sunday, 8 p.m. (AMC)

I smell liquor, cigarettes and hairspray — it must be the long-awaited return of “Mad Men” after an 18-month hiatus. Season four ended with ad executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) proposing marriage to his young secretary (Jessica Paré) while 1960s Madison Avenue — with its sexism, infidelity and alcoholism — found itself on the cusp of monumental change.

I’m pretty worked up about the season five premiere, but a couple of martinis and a smoke ought to calm me down. CV

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