So welcome to the newest ABC Family series, 'Stitchers'. The network premiered it five days before its June 2 premiere. This one is surprisingly free of what one tends to associate with ABC Family these days: teenage angst and odd family constructs. 'Stitchers' is a modern-day s.f. mystery-solving series in the mode of 'Jake 2.0'' and 'Tru Calling', with a bit of virtual reality tossed in 'Harsh Realm' and "V.R. 5' style.
Kirsten Clark (Emma Ishta) suffers from temporal dysplasia, meaning that she has no sense of time. This also means that she has no emotions and a genius intellect, although whether this is tied into her condition isn't clear. When a jealous roommate, Camille (Allison Scagliotti, 'Warehouse 13'), gets Kirsten on put on academic suspension, a secret government agency decides that someone with temporal dysplasia is exactly what they need for their "Stitcher" program. They "stitch" someone's brain into a corpse's memory, letting the Stitcher read the dead person's more emotionally charged memories.
Stitching also involves putting Kirsten in a highly-conductive skintight black outfit. They lampshade this a bit, since the nerd geniuses admit that they designed it to be… flattering in a Catwoman kind of way. One suspects the costume designers and producers did the same.
The head of the nameless government agency, Maggie Baptiste, has to keep the project secret. Assisting her out of an underground base beneath a Chinese restaurant are tech whizzes nerdy Cameron and even nerdier Linus. Cameron is your typical pop-culture-spouting TV nerd, and in fact resembles Scagliotti's character Claudia in 'Warehouse 13'. He and Kirsten bond, as much as she can bond, and Kirsten is interested enough in the project to attempt a stitch.
There's the requisite medical dialogue about deteriorating brains and cerebral temperatures and emergency "bounce" procedures. And time limits and countdowns. Kirsten survives her first stitch and it awakens emotions in her and she doesn't like it; Despite that, she also goes public to stop a bomber in the premiere episode. Cameron goes with her; Maggie warns that the agency will shut them down if they go public again. Rinse and repeat for the next nine episodes. Also, the agency is investigating the death of Kirsten's guardian, who took her in after her father abandoned her. Said father helped develop the Stitcher technology.
I've a fondness for the modern-day S.F./spy genre, as does anyone who used to groove on 'The Six Million Dollar Man' back in the 70s. Ishta manages to straddle the line between obnoxious super-genius and relatable protagonist. She and Kyle Harris--Cameron--have some decent chemistry and the first case-of-the-week has just enough twists to keep things interesting.
Scagliotti's presence gives the show even more of a 'Warehouse 13' feel. Even though her character in 'Stitchers' is even more obnoxious than Kirsten. Camille does warm up a bit by the end of the episode, and it'll be interesting to see what they do with her. Linus is a bit of a non-entity in the first episode so we'll see what they do with him.
The show lends itself to the procedural format: each week Kirsten investigates a death tied to a corpse's memories, and gets closer to finding out the secrets of her father. All while slowly learning emotions and becoming a real human being. They avoided humanizing her too much in the first episode, but presumably she'll warm up as things move along.
There's a lot of witty banter, which is surprising. Creator and premiere writer hasn't done a lot of movie work and 'Stitchers' seems to be his first big gig. Before that he's done mostly direct-to-video movies like 'Beethoven's 3rd'' and 'Dennis the Menace Strikes Again!'
I suspect the banter and the female intellect vs. male doofus relationship is what reminds me of 'Warehouse 13'. The rest of the premiere is pretty bog-standard. Nameless and sinister government agency, handsome nerd, cold-hearted female protagonist with a slowly thawing heart of gold.
Overall, though, 'Stitchers' is a pleasant return to the good ole days of ABC Family when they did shows like 'The Middleman' and 'Kyle XY'. Check it out: it's on Tuesdays at 9/8 central, premiering on June 2. TVRage will continue its coverage of the show. And if you want more info on the pilot, you can go here.