Two episodes were provided for review purposes prior to broadcast.
ABC Family has never been known for its quality programming, but Stitchers may mark a creative low-water mark for the sudsy network. Shamelessly pilfering aspects of its premise from Unforgettable (the lead with flawless, absolute memory) and iZombie (accessing the memories of the deceased in order to answer questions about their deaths), the series is not just painfully unoriginal but shockingly uninteresting. Given that this is ABC Family’s first foray into sci-fi territory, what’s most surprising about the show is how totally it fails to put an interesting spin on its “cutting-edge technology” set-up.
Emma Ishta (essentially an Emily VanCamp clone so wooden she probably fends off opportunistic loggers on a daily basis) plays Kirsten Clark, a so-called human being (none of her actions back up that identifier) with temporal dysplasia, a rare condition that in principle means she has no perception of time but in practice simply makes her the ultimate ice queen, utterly vacant, emotionless and oblivious to any and all social cues.
Now, aloof geniuses have flourished as a staple in procedurals like this, from The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon to the entire cast of Scorpion, but the issue here is that Kirsten doesn’t come off as intelligent so much as plainly intolerable. For a lead character to irritate as wholly as Stitchers‘ does points to a crippling miscalculation somewhere in the development process.
Kirsten’s condition makes her an ideal candidate for a top-secret government initiative called the Stitchers program, which involves her stepping into a Minority Report-esque water tank (in a form-fitting catsuit, natch) in order to get her consciousness “stitched” onto the memories of dead people so she can see the last things they saw before they died. The pilot makes that set-up far more complicated than it needs to be (the pointless in medias res set-up was a particular goof), especially because viewers could simply watch a few minutes of iZombie to get the basic procedural elements down.
In predictable fashion, Kirsten’s teammates include a cute and nerdy neuroscientist (Kyle Harris), his cheeky assistant (Ritesh Rajan) and a tough-as-nails overseer who knows more than she’s letting on (Salli Richardson-Whitfield). The second episode also brings her annoyed roommate (Allison Scagliotti) and a bewildered cop (Damon Dayoub) further into the story, tidily setting up a central team. There’s also the requisite mystery, about the suspicious death of Kirsten’s dad, that is perhaps the least interesting thing about the show.