June 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “Stitchers”


STITCHERS:  Tuesday 9PM on ABCFamily

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on STITCHERS:  Graduate student and science whiz Kirsten (Emma Ishta) has “temporal dysplasia,” a (fictional) condition in which she doesn’t experience the passage of time.  Somehow this has given her a robotic personality, but for unexplained reasons it also makes her the perfect candidate for the government’s Stitchers program, which allows her to enter the (briefly) preserved memories of the recently dead so that she can solve their murders.  Her colleagues on the Stitchers team include nice-guy Cameron (Kyle Harris), nerd Linus (Ritesh Rajan), boss Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield)–and Camille (Allison Scagliotti), Kirsten’s roommate, with whom she exists in a state of mutual disdain.  While much is still a mystery, Kirsten’s suitability for Stitchers isn’t an accident:  her biological father and the man who raised her after dad’s abandonment were the inventors of the Stitchers technology, and now her adoptive dad has been murdered.

Episode 2:  Stitchers made enough shifts in its second episode to almost qualify as a re-pilot.  LAPD Detective Quincy Fisher (Damon Dayoub), who seemed intended in the pilot as a foe for Kirsten who would, at least for a while, be one step behind in trying to figure out why she was always around the scenes of the crimes he was investigating, was abruptly brought in as a full-blown member of the Stitchers team.  (The incredibly top-secret Stitchers facility apparently has no security at all.)  Kirsten’s roommate Camille, it turned out, had been a member all along, and had been spying on her for a year–which made very little sense in the context of how she’d been presented in the pilot, but series creator Jeffrey Alan Schechter, who wrote the episode (directed by Steve Robin), dispensed with that issue in a few tossed-off lines of dialogue.

There were bigger tonal and conceptual changes as well.  The pilot had left off with a cliffhanger that set the stage for the series to leap into the story of the murder of Kirsten’s adoptive father, but episode 2 found a (nonsensical) way around that, as Maggie simply declared that a routine drug death had to be solved instead, and the mythology plot was shoved into the background in favor of what will clearly be more of a procedural.  However, there will apparently be a continuing storyline about Kirsten’s predecessor in the Stitchers program, who we discovered in the episode’s tag wasn’t dead after all.  There was also a perceptible attempt to lighten the tone of the series, making it goofier, with Kirsten treated not so much as a robot as an alien who didn’t understand the mores of earthlings.  (At a rave, we watched her absorb the dancing of those around her and then imitate the movements, and a makeover by Camille softened Kirsten’s look quite a bit.)

The crime of the week held very little interest–Kirsten saw who the killer was in her first visit to the dead girl’s memories, and the ending allowed a teen runaway to be rescued–and with much awkward, exposition-heavy dialogue and uncertain chemistry among the cast, Stitchers continues to show minimal promise, despite all the changes.  Given the best lead-in ABCFamily can provide from Pretty Little Liars, the ratings were OK (they equaled the debut of Chasing Life last season, and that’s survived to a second year), but they may not hold up.  Two hours in, Stitchers feels like an experiment that hasn’t yet yielded a cure.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  The Stitches Aren’t Holding

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."