March 22, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Stitchers”


STITCHERS:  Tuesday 10PM on Freeform

STITCHERS gave itself an IZombie joke tonight (the two shows have somewhat notoriously similar premises, both concerning young women who can temporarily enter the memories of the recently dead to solve their murders), and that gag was about as imaginative as things got.  Stitchers is by far the more rudimentary of the two shows, with little of IZombie‘s wit or even its CW-level production values, and while both series have the same general format of a procedural with an overarching serialized narrative, IZombie‘s is by far the more intriguing.

Stitchers did use its Season 2 premiere, written by series creator Jeffrey Alan Schechter and directed by Steve Miner, to tweak its format a bit.  Heroine Kirsten (Emma Ishta) got a new suit for use in submerging herself in the chemical tank that allows her to enter corpses’ minds:  more leather, less Spandex.  Both Kirsten and partner/head Stitching scientist Cameron (Kyle Harris) were given government badges, which will presumably allow them to act more like junior G-Men and less like amateurs in this season’s investigations.  More importantly, the show declared that Kirsten’s stitching into the not-quite-dead Cameron at the end of last season rebooted her emotions, rendering her less Asberger-ish and more able to have a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Cameron, who for his part was less nerdy and more aggressive.  This change is both good and bad:  there’s no question that having Ishta play socially awkward, guilelessly arrogant and flatly affectless was becoming monotonous (and straining the actress’s talents), but it was also one of the few things that made Kirsten, and Stitchers, a bit distinctive.  Tonight’s episode, where she attempted to hide her newly acquired goo-goo eyes from Cameron, placed her into a much more familiar TV heroine mode.

This being a season premiere, the hour was completely devoted to its serialized story, about the mysterious experiments being carried out by the government with the Stitchers program (some nonsense about advancing human evolution to save the world, yada yada), the big reveals being that Kirsten’s adopted father’s corpse was still around, and that her biological father (guest star C. Thomas Howell) may have killed both adopted dad and Stitchers program director Turner (Oded Fehr).  There was nothing very compelling about any of this.

The teen scientist vibe of Stitchers can have its charms, the Stitching sequence visuals are striking at times, and Kirsten–up till now, at least–has been a bit unusual as YA heroines go, but the series doesn’t have much more going for it.  The writing by Schechter and his staff is by-the-numbers, and the procedural plots are so thin they can barely fill an hour.  The young cast is more enthusiastic than notable.  The ratings last season were nothing to boast about either, even with Pretty Little Liars as a lead-in, which made the decision to renew the series slightly surprising.  But the word was that the network (ABC Family at the time, now Freeform) wanted to be in the procedural business, and this was the best they had.  We’ll see if that patience persists.  Stitchers itself hasn’t yet managed to enter the mind of an inspired TV writer, alive or otherwise.

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."