August 5, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Stitchers”


Very little about STITCHERS has made sense, and that includes ABCFamily’s decision to renew it for another season, despite ratings that have been lousy even with Pretty Little Liars as its lead-in.  The word is that the network desperately wants to be in the procedural business, and Stitchers is the only show it’s got that can put it there, meager though its efforts may be.

As a procedural, Stitchers can best be described as IZombie without the invention, humor or imagination.  Here it’s Kirsten (Emma Ishta) who can enter into the memories of the recently dead to solve their murders, but the storylines have been pathetically simpleminded and easy to anticipate.  Even worse, while IZombie‘s mythology makes internal sense if one accepts a world with zombies in it, Stitchers‘ creator Jeffrey Alan Schechter seems to have worked out his backstory with emojis.  Kirsten has been given the fictional disorder of “temporal dysplasia,” which supposedly means that she has no sense of time, so for her a minute is the same as a month (sort of like your dog acting like you’ve deserted him forever when you just went to put out the garbage).  In fact, Kirsten has yet to show any effect of the disorder, aside from an Aspergers-lite personality and the advanced ability to “stitch” into the brains of the dead.  (It has yet to be explained why temporal dysplasia would have anything to do with that ability.)  She’s surrounded by flat supporting character cliches, including not-quite-romantic-interest Cameron (Kyle Harris), brash roommate Camille (Allison Scagliotti), nerdy scientist (and Camille’s semi-mate) Linus (Ritesh Rajan), and vaguely menacing authority figure Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield).

This being the season finale (written by Schechter and directed by J. Miller Tobin), the crime being solved hit home for Kirsten and company:  a shooter who attacked their LAPD associate Quincy (Damon Dayoub) while he was having dinner with Kirsten, Cameron and Camille, and killing a waitress in the process.  It all traced back to the show’s central mystery, which has something to do with Kirsten’s birth father having invented the stitching process and the murder of her adopted father, which links to an as-yet undefined conspiracy.  Flashbacks established that her birth dad may have given Kirsten her temporal condition by having her stitch as a child into her comatose mother’s mind, but it didn’t clear anything up about who might be trying to kill them.  Instead, the episode’s last act had Cameron temporarily stopping his own heartbeat so Kirsten would stitch into him, but all she saw in his mind was how much he cared about her, and a memory of the two of them meeting unknowingly as children, which seemed to be there to make 12-year old girl viewers go “Awwww.”  The supposed cliffhanger had Cameron’s heart still stopped at the point where he should have returned to consciousness, but there’s very little chance he won’t be back for Season 2.

The writing on Stitchers is pure plastic, the budgets are paltry, and the cast hasn’t been able to lift the material past its limitations.  Because the concept behind Kirsten requires Ishta to play almost every scene in exactly the same way, it’s not clear if she can actually act, while the characters around her have no more depth than the teens who exist to be mowed down in slasher movies.

Perhaps the network has a vision for how Stitchers can be reborn in Season 2, and Schecter has more ability than he’s shown so far.  After all, Halt and Catch Fire only lived up to the second half of its title when it returned to the air (although its first season was never remotely as bad as Stitchers‘).  Otherwise it’s hard to justify preserving an hour of weekly airtime for a thriller this lacking in thrills.  If Stitchers is going to explore the terrain of the brain-dead, it needs to begin with its own scripts.

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."