“Touch” reached out to the world in an early preview event in January before officially premiering earlier this month. Kiefer Sutherland stars as Martin Bohm; the father of an autistic boy who holds a key to the universe’s interconnectedness. Each week the show will bring together stories from around the world. It is the creation of Tim Kring, creator of “Heroes.”
At Fox’s Television Critics Association party in January, we sat with Kring for an exclusive connection about his plans for “Touch,” which airs Thursdays at 9pm on Fox.
CraveOnline: I’ve been reading a lot about the connectivity of the universe and a consciousness shift that may be coming. Was there any specific reading on that subject that drew you in?
Tim Kring: No, I think it’s just a general sense of where the world seems to be going. I had the fortune to work on a project over the last couple years called The Conspiracy for Good. There were 130 of us working on the project in five different countries, and I’ve traveled a lot before that.
It just seems like everywhere I go now, I can feel and sense the world getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. What used to feel like six degrees of separation feels now like much less than that. Also I think raising kids and seeing the world that they are inheriting, you get the sense that the world is vibrating on some sort of level right now that is very scary to a lot of people.
And I just have come to believe that our only real hope is to figure out how to collectively come together and solve the major problems of our world.
CraveOnline: That is the consciousness shift. How rewarding is it to know that this idea you thought of independently fits so well into this philosophy?
Tim Kring: I don't know how independently. Like I said, I live in the popular culture and I feel the same shift that seems to be happening. A lot of my friends are feeling the same thing. When I was on "Heroes" I very much kept a lot of those feelings of that message in that show in the background.
But to me, the show very much was about putting a message of global consciousness in the world. I decided after the show hit that I was going to try to create some sort of a fan base foundation on the idea of people finding one another on the internet, collectively coming together to do something positive. Unfortunately it didn’t get started and it migrated to this project called Conspiracy of Good which was driven by this very idea of using the only pulpit that I really have, the only skill set that I have was as a storyteller.
So it’s trying to use the idea of narrative to create and promote positive change. I’m sort of a one issue candidate about the idea of interconnectivity. I’m not trying to promote anything. I’m just trying to say that we are more connected than we know.
CraveOnline: Do you think audiences will be divided between embracing that philosophy and thinking everything is coincidence?
Tim Kring: I think it’s a very hopeful feeling to feel that we’re connected to one another and I think everybody either secretly feels that way or openly feels that way. They may filter it through their religious beliefs or just those strange serendipities that people seem to have.
If not for this then I never would have that. Those little moments, near misses or close calls that change your perception of was I meant to do that or was I not? I think the scientific community is starting to move in this direction.
Certainly the world of physics, quantum physics and theories of quantum entanglement and that whole idea. I think this is starting to become a more mainstream sensibility.
CraveOnline: Is phone skipping a real thing?
Tim Kring: No, I made up the term. There was actually a little more of a description of what it was in the pilot but we cut it.
CraveOnline: It’s self-explanatory.
Tim Kring: Yeah, and that phone is going to continue on and be a recurring thing for a while. I just think nowadays that idea of people being able to create user generated content that then gets passed forward is a very intriguing idea to me.
I like the idea of a daisy chain. I’m also very interested in the idea of how do we create a sense that the audience is involved in a show? Some of the stuff that we’re going to be trying to do online will emulate that idea of people being able to supply one another and connect to one another.
CraveOnline: You tied together a lottery ticket and a terrorist bombing in the pilot. What sort of characters can you connect in the next few episodes?
Tim Kring: First I’ll say that one of the things that I’m very interested in doing is telling stories about very ordinary people. And telling small stories as opposed to big stories. I’m very interested in the very tiny stories so in the pilot, the stakes of a man who needs to find a telephone that has a photograph of his daughter in it, or a boy who needs to find an oven for his family.
Those are the kinds of storylines that, when they’re distilled down, can have tremendous power for an audience, just by virtue of the fact that rather than being big, they’re actually very small. So in the upcoming episodes, we’re all over the place. The second episode we’re in Russia. I’m just now writing one that takes place in Australia. We’re in South Africa. We’re all over the place.
CraveOnline: Are those small stories something you were not able to get to on "Heroes" because of the demands of the main plot?
Tim Kring: Well, the truth is, the engine that we had of some impending doom that needed to be prevented or the stakes that were in that show, it was hard to jump off of that very fast moving train to tell a very small story.
But hidden in those big stories we were able to do the family drama, the small little moments of the family and relationships. You’re right to point that out. This is more of an attempt to stop and drop anchor and do stories that are small and personal. One of the things that’s nice about not having a giant serialized engine to feed each week is you can invent new characters all the time.
That’s something that I really, really love to do. I love the idea of creating characters. On "Heroes," I think I had something like nine characters in the pilot alone and I loved creating each one of those characters. I used to think, "Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we just do this all the time, just keep coming up with all these characters." That was a very, very fun part of the show for me.
CraveOnline: How do you look back on "Heroes" now?
Tim Kring: Well, it was a very huge part of my life for five years. All encompassing, day and night. Imagine doing anything day and night for five full years in a row with nothing else like that. So there was an intensity to it. It was a roller coaster ride, hugely rewarding as a storyteller to be able to have that kind of big landscape.
At the height of the show, we were watched on the air by 76 million people around the world. That’s not saying anything about the people who were watching online. The last full year of the show was 2009. It was cancelled in 2010 on February 8 was the last episode. 2009, which was the last full year it was on the air, it was the number one most downloaded show in the world, above "24, Lost" and all that.
It was I think the number three most DVRed show on TV. It was the number one most streamed show, Netflix, etc. It sold 1.7 million units of DVDs. So by any stretch of the imagination that was a hugely viable powerful audience out there. Then four episodes later we were cancelled, or four weeks later.
CraveOnline: With the roller coaster of being a critical and fan favorite one year, then facing harsh critiques along the way, what lessons can you take into your next show?
Tim Kring: It’s a very hard question. It’s a very difficult question to analyze when you’re inside something. We made season one and season two all at the same time, same writers, same directors, same producers, everything. We just carved them up and put them in two seasons. For us they were always the same continuum.
We were just making episodes. So to then have perception be that one season was good and the other one wasn’t was very disorienting to us because they were all exactly the same to us. We were just making episodes, getting up every day doing the same job. So it’s very hard to analyze what that was all about. I think it was a big, big, complicated ambitious show and I think we raised the bar very high for ourselves.
CraveOnline: Is there any chance to revisit it from where the fourth season left off?
Tim Kring: Oh certainly there is. As I said, globally it’s a very viable brand.
CraveOnline: Did you already have a plan for a fifth season?
Tim Kring: Yeah, the fifth season was really an exciting idea because they were finally out of the closet and they were exposed to the world.
CraveOnline: Could that plan be whittled down to a single movie?
Tim Kring: Yeah, absolutely.
CraveOnline: I found it fascinating to see on your resume that you wrote Teen Wolf Too. Was that an assignment or pitch and was that fun to take this mythology and do something without Michael J. Fox?
Tim Kring: I was a young writer at the time. I got the job three weeks before they were going into production. They had no script. It was Jeph Loeb at the time who I worked with on "Heroes," his partner Matt Weisman and the two of them basically pitched me what they thought the story should be.
I was like writer for hire, went off and wrote the thing. It was a whirlwind. I got hired one week, three weeks later they were in production on this thing. So it was one of my first paying jobs as a writer. I was willing to do anything that anybody wanted me to do.
CraveOnline: Was that the first sequel that ever spelled 2 T-O-O?
Tim Kring: Probably. It probably was.
CraveOnline: Was that your idea?
Tim Kring: No, it was predetermined before I walked in. It was one of those crazy Hollywood stories where you get hired one week and you’re on the air two weeks later, or in production two weeks later.