Kiefer Sutherland had been doing a play on Broadway. He had been preparing for a new movie. He had no real plans to follow up 24 with another TV show, not this soon anyway.
But then the actor read the script for Touch, couldn't bear the thought of the show premiering without him, and signed up for the Tim Kring-penned drama.
"I identified with [Martin] out of the gate," Sutherland told myself and fellow reporters on a conference call yesterday, going on to explain the differences and similarities between this new character and and the iconic Jack Bauer:
"There was something interesting because obviously this is very different than 24... yet there is a real similar through line in the kind of character of the man. Jack Bauer would be faced with unbelievable circumstances in the course of a day and he would never win completely. And this guy is never going to win, either. He’s never going to have the quintessential relationship of a father and a son. And yet he perseveres and that’s a great kind of character statement."
A quick primer on Touch:
Martin has a son named Jake who, it comes to be determined on the pilot, has been misdiagnosed with severe autism. In reality, the young boy - who never speaks - is a "truly evolved human being," as Sutherland put it. He can see numbers and connections that unite everyone on the planet in some way.
Does the star himself ascribe to this sort of world view? Absolutely, he says, though it would be impossible to base one's everyday life on. Still...
"Anything as simple as someone who is late for a bus one day, all of a sudden they’re not on the bus. They’re taking up other space. They either had to get a taxi and that affects the taxi driver’s life. So, yes, I do believe there is a cause and effect and a ripple effect upon everything everybody does and they have positive consequences and negative consequences."
Despite what may seem like a foreign concept, one based in the world of science-fiction, Sutherland insists the series is a basic "drama" at its core. He emphasized that word multiple times throughout the call.
"We’re embarking on the journey of a father trying to connect with his son and trying to have as normal a relationship as he can under the circumstances. That will always be at the heart of the show."
Sutherland also pointed to another difference between Touch and the programs both he and Kring are most famous for:
"The show is a procedural. Unlike 24 and unlike Heroes, which was a serialized show, these episodes will have a beginning, a middle and an end."
And the beginning of Touch's run kicks off tonight with a special airing of the premiere at 9 p.m. Return to TV Fanatic the moment the episode concludes for a detailed review.