ABC Family is a network that takes chances – could Kyle XY, Middleman, Bunheads, or Pretty Little Liars really have appeared anywhere else?
Now, the network is premiering Stitchers, a sci-fi/procedural/relationship dramedy that may have their most out there premise yet – technology exists to allow a human consciousness to be ‘stitched’ into the brain of a recently deceased person and experience their most recent memories. This technology is being used by a very, very clandestine government agency to solve murders – though not just any old murders…
The Stitchers Program is headed up by Cameron Goodkin (Kyle Harris), a scientific whiz kid who is only at home when he’s at work. His government overseer is Maggie Baptiste (Eureka’s Salli Richardson-Whitfield), a woman who is clearly more than she seems to be.
Kirsten Clark (Emma Ishta) is a grad student in computer sciences whose roommate, Camille Engelson (Allison Scagliotti, Warehouse 13) accuses her of sabotage – getting her placed on academic suspension. Kirsten suffers from a curious disorder called temporal dysplasia – she has no sense of the passage of time. Every moment of her life feels like it’s been there forever – it’s like her whole life is a case of déjà vu.
When Camille threatens to toss Kirsten out of their shared house, events are set in motion to bring Emma into the Stitchers Program – to the delight of the project’s number two techie, Linus Ahluwalia (Ritesh Rajan).
Cameron, on the other hand, has some reservations – and not without cause. There was one other person to be stitched into the mind and memories of a dead person and it did not go well.
The series premiere, A Stitch in Time, opens with Emma in the memories of Peter Brandt (Justin Zachary). She doesn’t something she’s not supposed to be able to do and there is a peculiar reaction. Then she shifts to another part of Peter’s memory and witnesses an explosion.
Cut to title card. Cut to 10 hours earlier – at Cal Tech, where Kirsten is facing her roommate’s accusation of sabotage. While in that meeting with Dean Hardwicke, she appears distracted. She is, in fact fixing the very problem she’s accused of causing. She winds up on academic suspension.
As she leaves the building, LAPD Detective Fisher (Damon Dayoub) meets her with the news that her father has died. He is curious when she doesn’t seem unduly bothered by that fact. While this is going on, we begin to learn about her background through flashbacks. If Fisher could see her memories he’d probably be even more disturbed. As it is, she doesn’t believe her father committed suicide as the police believe.
While she’s talking with Fisher, news comes of a bomb exploding and Fisher is called to that crime. A sequence of events occur that wind up with Kirsten in the lab of the Stitchers Program and being persuaded to be stitched into the mind of Peter Brandt who, it turns out, was responsible for the earlier explosion – which killed him. The person doing the persuading – and I use that word advisedly – is Maggie Baptiste. Part of her argument is that that Brandt made more bombs than have been set off.
A Stitch in Time was written by series creator Jeffrey Allen Schecter and directed by Todd Holland. Between them – and a cast that works extremely well – the result is an imaginative set up to what could become an extremely good series.
Right now, things are in the infodump stage – lots of exposition, introducing the characters, setting up the parameters of the series. Each of the characters has strengths and weaknesses – Kirsten’s temporal dysplasia leaves her with virtually no people skills, but gives her an extraordinary to focus; Cameron is a technical wizard whose passion for his program (and Doctor Who, among other things) have made him insecure outside the lab – though he does have one really great friend in fellow nerd Linus; Maggie is commanding but evasive (she has big secrets – count on it!); Fisher is more dogged than inspired (Maggie describes him as a bulldog) but tends to leap before he looks, etc..
While the show’s premise is all kinds of batcrap crazy, it’s developed carefully and once you accept the idea of the technology, it has the kind of internal sense that can make the difference between a show succeeding or failing.
For the moment, the only characters really developed are Kirsten and Cameron, but the broad strokes used for the others show the promise of further intrigue. The cast chemistry is solid and leads to some unexpected developments in next week’s episode.
The sci-fi element of the show is cool and the procedural element looks to be good fun, but the reason to tune in every week is that the characters are different enough that they don’t merely fill in convenient slots – and they interact with each other in believable ways (all things considered).
Even with the massive infodumps required to get the show up and running, A Stitch in Time is a fast-paced, highly entertaining hour of television – and next week’s ep, Friends in Low Places is less reliant on exposition, so the pace picks up as the cast settles into a good rhythm.
I am looking forward to seeing where the show goes from here.
Final Grade: B+
Photos courtesy of ABC Family