Whenever I hear about a show with a high-concept as “entering someone else’s memories”, I get really excited. Add to that some tech savvy secret group that wants to help people get justice, and you can already count me in. So why did Stitchers suck so much?
I guess the answer is quite simple: we’ve seen this so many times already. There’s no denying that the first thing you notice when watching the pilot is the iZombie resemblance (minus the zombies, obviously) and a hint of Fringe. But unlike those shows, Stitchers is not at all sure what it wants to be in the long-term. For now, it’s just a laughable police procedural with characters that talk too fast and worn-out ideas. We have never seen a show like that before, have we?
The premise is as straightforward as all of ABC Family’s other shows: Kristen (Emma Ishta) cannot depict the passage of time (Temporal Dysplasia, they called it here, and no it’s not a real thing) which makes her the perfect candidate for a secret government program that, get this, “stitches” people’s minds into the memories of the recently deceased, in hopes of finding out how they were killed. It sounds intriguing at first, and that’s partly why I decided to give the show a shot but the result is sadly catastrophic.
I don’t usually go questioning the mythology of a show; I have nothing to doubt when I watch Arrow or The Flash or even the recent sci-fi mystery The Whispers, but Stitchers makes you ask “how the hell is this possible, and why?”. The ridiculousness of the premise, despite its initial intrigue, makes it difficult to love the show. Kristen finds it very plausible that there’s a technology that stitches people’s mind into corpse’s memories, and immediately signs up for the horrendous Catwoman costume. No, just no. We need to believe this is real, that this can exist in Stitchers universe.
Another terrible thing the show does is whatever’s going on in the special effects department. I wasn’t expecting much anyway (ABC Family, hello?), but the show’s attempts at creating an eerie, blurred background when Kristen gets stitched looks like something I did at home using Photoshop. Plus, it got absurd with every passing minute and can easily cause dizziness.
The cast isn’t very impressive either. Ishta does not strike me as an interesting lead, but I can’t exactly pinpoint what I don’t like about her (other than the coldhearted, emotionless personality she was going for). Her obvious love interest Kyle Harris (as Cameron) was equally annoying and talks way too fast for me to take him seriously. No one from the supporting cast really stands out (including Ritesh Rajan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Allison Scagliotti), and that’s a shame because this show needs at least one strong element to keep us invested.
Finally, it is the show’s decision to go complete procedural that is the most off-putting. Yes, there is a serialized mystery surrounding Kristen’s father but it’s too bland, and there’s a moment in the pilot where Kristen supposedly has a transcendent emotional breakthrough but again, the corny dialogue and the less-than-remarkable acting makes this one of the weakest premieres I’ve seen in a while.
A by-the-books, cheesy, unexciting pilot of a show that should find a way to move past its cases-of-the-week format which we’ve seen far too many times already. Maybe one more episode wouldn’t be too bad before giving up on this?