‘Touch’ Executive Producer Talks About the Inspiration Behind Episode

Carol Barbee, executive producer of “Touch,” talks about a South Africa trip organized last year by Hollywood, Health & Society and its director, Sandra de Castro Buffington, that served partly as the inspiration for an episode that she later wrote called “Safety in Numbers.” 

Watch video here (starts at 1:57 mark).

FOX-TV’s “Touch” stars Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm, a single father unable to connect with his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake. The show’s premise— “our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies touch ours”—seems to resonate in these uncertain times.

Jake’s obsession with seemingly random numbers—along with Martin’s detective work—turn out to be a “roadmap” to a sequence of linked events in the lives of other people throughout the world, and a way to heal them of their suffering or rescue them from danger.

Barbee reveals the bits and pieces that go into her writing process, and it all seems to be—no surprise here—interconnected. She talks about how one of the new numbers that Jake obsesses about, 3287, was her childhood phone number that’s now “part of the DNA of the show.” A kernel of an idea came to Barbee after she learned that fire ants living in the rainforest survive in heavy flooding by linking together to form a “living raft.” The idea of cooperation—that we’re stronger when we come together—is for Barbee an important piece of “Touch” and seems to have been germinating in her mind for a while. In May 2011, Barbee was among a group of Hollywood writers and producers on a research trip to Johannesburg led by Buffington, where they learned about local health and social issues and met with individuals and groups working for positive change.

“I was really struck by the people and I was actually told one of the stories that ends up in this episode,” Barbee recounts on the video. The tale is one of recurring domestic abuse at the hands of a husband in one of the homes in a local settlement, and how the women banded together to confront the abuser. Their successful method of calling attention to his behavior—”shaming” him enough so that he stopped—was to encircle him and bang on pots.

Safety in numbers.