Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It’s hard to figure out if Sutherland has ‘Touch’

Charles Dickens wasn’t the only one to express strong concerns within the foggy and mystical penumbra of Great Expectations. The Browns are undergoing related chills and fevers following a spate of draft choices that may propel them to a) the Super Bowl, b) well, maybe a winning record, c) respectability, d) forgiveness from the fans, e) avoidance of TV blackouts, or f) none of the above.

But wait! Enough of that! We all understand the agony and the ecstasy of dealing with expectations that may or may not come to full bloom.

To get right to the point, I was such an avowed fan of “24,” the TV saga that starred Kiefer Sutherland for eight or so years, that I awaited his latest vehicle with hopes for a continued streak of mayhem that would be both exciting and semi-understandable.

Now he is involved in a new show, “Touch,” and to say that the jury is still out, trying to reach a verdict, doesn’t begin to describe the confusion I feel while watching it.

Much of the time, I just don’t get it. Is it me? Or, as we learned to say in English 101, is it I? Or are other viewers equally as perplexed by the goings-on.

A scene is not even completed before we jump continents, from the United States to a place that resembles Iran or Iraq or some other war-torn area where it is difficult to fathom things as they happen super quickly.

Not only that, much of the dialog is in a language that only a handful of viewers would understand, so that we must read English subtitles to keep up with events.

As was the case with “24,” many of the characters speak in whispers. I don’t dare turn up the volume too high because there are others in the house who value the peace and quiet of a bucolic abode.

Loud sounds and noises are offensive to many of the people I live with.

No matter that only one of them is a human being and the others are cats and dogs. They have feelings, too.

One way I dealt with this during the “24” episodes was to record them and play the unintelligible portions over and over until they finally registered within my brain.

And no, I don’t need a hearing aid. But I must confess that listening to Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson full blast for decades has taken its toll of some of my audio sensory receptacles.

I am not going to relent on that. Good jazz is meant to be listened to at full volume. So if as a result I have to strain a bit to hear what a few characters are saying on a TV program, well, so be it.

By the way, a friend pointed out an amazing feature on the TV remote. It is a button you can push to watch old shows. This became necessary a couple weeks ago when I forgot to watch “Touch” on a Thursday.

Why in the devil do they show it on Thursday? Why can’t it be on Monday, as “24” was? But I digress.

I forget the name of the button. I think it is “On Demand.” When you push it, you get a list of networks. Someone cleverly put them in alphabetical order. So I went to Fox, went down the list to “Touch,” and there I saw a listing of every  program in the series.

I went to the one I had missed, pushed the button again, and after a brief message that said “keep your pants on” (that’s what we said as kids, meaning “hold your horses”) and presto! On came the episode I had missed.

So I got to watch it.

I’ll tell you, the marvels of electronics are something to behold. What will Al Gore think of next?

Along the same line, I have become an expert at fixing my cell phone when something goes wrong with it simply by pushing buttons that the average person doesn’t even know exist. Trust me, if your cell phone doesn’t work, you can fix it by pushing buttons.

It is almost as easy as fixing a computer by unplugging the modem, giving it a rest, and plugging it back it.

You can fix a TV the same way — by unplugging it and letting it rest.

But let us return to “Touch.” It is still my hope to be a fan — if I can figure out what is going on.

I disagree with the critic (Alasdair Wilkins) who called it at one point “the worst show on television,” partly because of its “hokey coincidences.”

It’s about numerical clairvoyance, you idiot. Of course there are going to be hokey coincidences.

You will find them in all TV shows, including Indians games and “Jeopardy.”


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