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Kiefer Sutherland tackles a more cerebral role in the new series Touch

Kiefer Sutherland says he wasn’t looking to come back to TV so soon after his eight-season, Emmy-winning stint on 24.

Kiefer Sutherland says he wasn’t looking to come back to TV so soon after his eight-season, Emmy-winning stint on 24. But then he read the script for Touch.

“It wasn’t really a choice,” says Sutherland, who was starring in a Broadway play at the time. “It was around page 30, I remember going dammit! I just knew I’d be so remiss if I didn’t do it.”

The series, from Heroes creator Tim Kring, definitely stands out from the usual TV crowd. On one level, it’s a drama of a father, Martin (Sutherland), who is attempting to reach his autistic, mute son Jake.

But it’s also a science fiction tale — in that Jake possesses an ability to make numerical connections that seem to predict future events in the world. Interpreting what those numbers might mean soon becomes Martin’s full-time job. For Sutherland himself, the show is essentially about family. “I’ve always felt it was a drama,” Sutherland says. “You’re embarking on a journey of a father trying to connect to his son. That’s at the heart of the show.”

But will fans of Sutherland’s shoot-first-talk-later character Jack Bauer on 24 be convinced to watch the more cerebral Touch?

“Well, we’re not blowing things up. But I think there’s enough excitement around the show. There’s a great deal of suspense in not knowing what (Jake’s) numbers are,” he says.

Sutherland even sees parallels between his 24 character and Touch’s more down-to-earth Martin. “Jack Bauer was faced with unbelievable circumstances to overcome. And by the end, you realize this guy’s never going to win. On Touch, you realize Martin is never going to have that quintessential father/son relationship with his son, and yet he too perseveres.”

Touch premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. (ET) on Global.

Martin Bohm vs. Jack Bauer

How does Kiefer Sutherland’s new character in Touch, Martin Bohm, compare to 24’s Jack Bauer?

  • Similarities — both men have children they’re trying to protect: Martin Bohm’s 11-year-old son, Jake, has trouble connecting with people emotionally and Martin yearns to shield him from the judgmental world. Kim, Jack Bauer’s daughter, needs to be kept safe from the numerous terrorists who are looking to kidnap and harm her as a way to weaken Jack.

  • They’re both widowers:? Martin’s wife met an untimely death when she was working in the World Trade Center during the September 11 terrorist

  • attacks. Jack’s wife, Teri, was killed at the hands of double agent Nina Myers.

  • It’s always a race against time: Martin isn’t sure why his son turns all their clocks to 3:18, but the timing has significance that will be explored throughout the series. Jack’s existence has always been a race against the clock, spending every hour of his day preventing major terrorist attacks against the U.S.

  • Differences — they live on opposite sides of the country: Martin and his son are located in New York. Jack, although rarely in one place for a long time, resides in Los Angeles.

  • They are in different lines of work:?Although Martin currently works as a baggage handler at JFK Airport, his previous career was as an investigative reporter for the Herald. Jack worked for the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit, in some capacity or another.

  • They have different fears: Martin is deathly afraid of heights, which poses a problem as his son constantly climbs cellphone towers. Jack Bauer fears nothing.

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