Whereas the terrorist-destroying, world-saving hero Jack Bauer was the model of pent-up angst and repressed emotion, Sutherland's new alter ego, Martin Bohm, is the exact opposite. Touch, the latest from Heroes boss Kring, tells the story of widower Martin Bohm, the father of a mute son who harbors the uncanny ability to connect patterns and discover the meaning behind seemingly unrelated events happening all over the world.
Sutherland said the appeal of playing Martin was his total contrast to Jack. "The opportunity I had in 24 was to repress," he told reporters Sunday during Fox's winter TV preview. "[With Martin,] openly showing and having emotional reactions to what is happening in this exact moment is another fantastic opportunity."
"In 24, the repression got heavier and heavier. Hopefully, this will become more and more open," he said. Also: Martin, unlike Jack, "gets to sit down," Sutherland joked. "He gets to sit down and have a conversation."
And the differences don't end there. Touch is an unapologetically feel-good series, telling stand-alone, often sentimental stories of humanity's interconnectedness; Heroes fans shouldn't expect the same degree of serialization. "Each week will be a different set of characters and a different slice-of-life story," Kring said. The answers to the show's overarching mystery — the story behind Jake's gift — won't be ignored, but they also won't be the series' driving narrative. Kring isn't divulging any hints about those answers yet either except to say that Jake's abilities won't be treated like superpowers à la Heroes. At the same time, "as storytellers, we want to reserve the idea to suggest that there is something else, something supernatural or other, floating above this."
More important to Kring is foregrounding Touch's uber-positive theme. "I've been interested in this idea of interconnectivity for a very long time. This is really a chance to continue I guess what you'd call 'social-benefit storytelling'... creating and promoting a positive energy in the world."
Check out the trailer for Touch, which premieres Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 9/8c on Fox: