Stitchers Series Premiere Review: Stop Trying So Damn Hard

Stitchers S01E01: "A Stitch in Time"

Once the home of cheesy made-for-TV movies and holiday-centric film marathons, ABC Family has had a string of good luck in recent years by expanding beyond what it was. The network has developed several solid original series in the form of well-written and thought-provoking family dramas, like The Fosters, Switched at Birth, and Chasing Life. All have contributed to the rising pedigree of a network that also managed to squeeze seven seasons of Pretty Little Liars out of three-seasons worth of story. But that good luck was bound to run out at some point.

The network's newest series Stitchers, a science fiction drama that's light on the actual science and heavy on the fiction, stars Aussie actress Emma Ishta (Manhattan Love Story) as Kirsten Clarke, a young PhD student at CalTech who's recruited by a secret government organization to be "stitched" into the memories of the recently deceased to solve crimes connected to said persons. You can chalk it up to poor timing that the series debuted just two months after The CW's iZombie introduced the world to another young woman with the strange ability to use the memories of the recently deceased to solve murders. But the fact the series shares a basic premise with a critically adored series is not its only—or even its biggest—problem. 

The first episode of Stitchers was also a clichéd mess full of forced performances. Kirsten suffered from a made-up condition known as temporal dysplasia which meant she had no concept of the passage of time and everything that happened to her was instantly familiar. As the character's defining trait, we're told it's incredibly important and that it's the reason she's able to be stitched into memories at all, but it's largely just problematic for the series, as it's a little inconsistent.

Somehow Kirsten's unusual condition also translated to her being unable to feel emotions of any kind so she came off cold, unfriendly, and like she thought she was better than everyone else (which she clearly did). It's also the reason she felt no grief when she was informed of her father's apparent suicide. It should be noted that Ed Clark was not really her father, but rather the man who raised her after her real father—who we learned was Clark's research partner and the man with whom he developed the Stitchers program—abandoned her for unknown reasons. By the end of the episode, it's this half-baked and so-totally-obvious connection that convinces Kirsten to stay on with the program, even though there's no reason to believe she had a meaningful relationship with either man.

In an interview with Ishta, she said she was drawn to the role of Kirsten because she was a strong female character, and this is nothing against Ishta personally, but nope. Making Kirsten extremely intelligent and successful in a male-dominated field was an easy, superficial way of seemingly setting Kirsten apart from her contemporary counterparts. It gave off the semblance of strength, but it's mostly just lazy storytelling at this point. We've seen this riff of "cold, unaffected hero who learns to love" so many times now that it's no longer the exception, but the rule. And the fact that the series also stripped away her emotions in the process made the character weaker and less human. 

It appears that Kirsten will be learning more about herself and how to interact with others through her experiences with the memories she encounters, and by the end of the premiere she claimed to finally understand anger and grief, and possibly even what it meant to love after being stitched into the memories of a man who attempted to kill the people who'd wronged his dead girlfriend by stealing her research. But there was no visible evidence of this taking place or even that Kirsten recognized it was happening until she vocalized her displeasure in the episode's final moments. The character fluctuated between an unfilterable robot channeling an early Big Bang Theory version of Sheldon Cooper and a halfway functioning human being before reverting back to the former because she didn't like the way emotions made her feel. It's an easy enough way to develop a stunted character, but it's hardly the most innovative. Plus, Kirsten, for all Ishta's work, isn't all that likable yet, so who really cares if she grows as a person or not? 

Unfortunately, Kirsten wasn't the only stereotypical character Stitchers employed. There's Camille (Allison Scagliotti, Warehouse 13), the bitchy competition in the form of Kirsten's disapproving roommate (who might actually be the best part of the series) and Cameron (Kyle Harris, The Carrie Diaries), the male partner-slash-love interest the series wanted us to think was charming in all of his nerdiness, but failed. Not only was he saddled with most of the wordy and confusing exposition about the fake science of the program, his forced banter with Kirsten in their first scene together was supposed to be filled with tension but instead came off as mostly cringeworthy. And then there's Linus (Ritesh RijanBaby Daddy), the nerd who will probably love Kirsten from afar, Maggie Baptiste (Salli Richardson-WhitfieldEureka), the no-bullshit female leader of the Stitchers program, and Quincy Fisher (Damon Dayoub, NCIS), the detective who smelled something fishy going on in his town. It's as if the show's writers and producers ordered "Character Pack No. 1" from the "Writing for Television 101" catalog and took them out of the packaging and inserted them into the script without first giving them distinguishing backgrounds and personalities. 

The series also did the same thing with regards to popular culture. It's so desperate to appeal to sci-fi fans and the nerd culture that's so "hot" right now, that the script was pumped full of tired references specifically designed to do just that. Between a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, a challenge from one character to another to name all of the actors who've played the Doctor on Doctor Who since 1963, and several characters name-dropping comic book characters like Catwoman and Batman (and if I heard correctly, possibly even a Superman reference?), Stitchers felt like the product of an out-of-touch executive who told his assistant to Google "cool things nerds like" and then the writers just popped them in willy-nilly. (Just a word of advice, writers: Fans of science fiction and fantasy will not come running just because you've done this, and if they do happen upon Stitchers, those pointed references will probably send them in the other direction. I'm not saying you shouldn't use pop culture references, but maybe using the less obvious ones would be a better idea.)

All of this was rather unfortunate, too, because ABC Family could use something new to add to its growing rotation of family dramas. Chasing Life and The Fosters are wonderful showcases for the network, but they attract the same type of viewers. By branching out into other genres, ABC Family has the opportunity to grow its largely female audience into something more. Stitchers could have been a fun, B-movie-like addition to the network's summer lineup—and there is definitely an audience for that type of show—but right now the series takes itself too seriously and is trying so damn hard that it might actually turn those people away. The series' procedural nature allows viewers to jump on board whenever they want without too much difficulty, so if the writers let the characters breathe and grow naturally and stopped trying to force so much of the story, the series might actually be able to turn into something that, while not must-watch, is something we can DVR for Sunday afternoons. Not everything has to be high-brow quality drama, but it doesn't need to be a regurgitated paint-by-numbers exercise either. I want to like you, Stitchers, but you have to give me a reason to.



LOOSE THREADS


– My biggest issue with the series was actually the fact that when Kirsten entered the memories of the deceased she's somehow a third-party bystander. If they're someone's memories, Emma should be seeing the events from that person's perspective. The fact she doesn't was one of the reasons it's so difficult to buy that she's experiencing anything the deceased felt. First-person perspective would help solve that problem.

– Ishta's American accent wasn't totally awful, but you can hear her true accent bleed through when she makes various sounds. It's basically the same problem that Phoebe Tonkin has on The Originals

– What happened to Marta that she left the program? My guess is that they had to pull her out and her brain turned to mush and she's no longer the same person.

– I don't normally get annoyed by the pretty, young people who populate so many dramas aimed at younger audiences—I'm a card-carrying member of The CW fan club—but I did take notice of the scientists in the Stitchers program. Like, really? We're supposed to believe all these brilliant, young, arguably good-looking people are running this bitch? I don't think so. Maybe I've finally hit my limit.

– What happened to Ed Clark? And where is Kirsten's real father? Why did he leave when she was younger? 


Comments (146)
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Sep 28, 2016
Will their be a season 3 of this show?
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Mar 02, 2016
I agree to an extent, however gonna give it a go for only one reason... Love Scagliotti... just love her... found the show while looking for what she's been up to after Warehouse 13.
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Aug 04, 2015
Just finished watching ep 5 and it was exciting. I think it gets better as it goes, so just keep watching!
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Jul 04, 2015
Just finished ep 2 and I mean I will continue for now because I am hoping that they can flesh out the characters a bit. It was super cliched, but also I am a sucker for fake science stuff and crime solving. I am hoping that ep 3 can shine some light on the characters better so that I actually care about them.
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Jun 21, 2015
They were trying way too hard and it showed in every scene.
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Jun 18, 2015
I liked episode 1 just fine. I couldn't finish episode 2, though. Just horrible. So, Stitchers failed the 1.5 episode test with me.
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Jun 13, 2015
I just watched the first two episodes and, even though I kinda liked the story and would be interested in watching further, I don't know if I can get over this feeling of injustice that grew more and more strongly as I was watching. They've used that girl, pushed an horrible sold roommate who got her out of school, ruining her future, almost out of HER HOME and gets "recruited" !!!!!!!!!!!!! Are they even going to rectify that to the school, are they going to pay her a salary, tell her what risks she actually faced BEFORE sending her in the damn tanks, pay her for risks taking, insurance, whatever?????????? UGH! Am I the only one being bothered by this? I feel like they're just using her!
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Jun 10, 2015
Props to the author of this review, best I've ever read (mostly because I agreed and related with everything said). Who knew that without the ability to experience a concept like time it would make one a complete sociopath. I am laughing at the thought of a 90 year old TV director/writer screaming at his assistant a foot away from him to google "cool stuff nerds like" and how to be a whore in ten days guide for or distribution to every female actress for their characters. Oh, but wait never mind they all have pH D's so it's cool and hip for them to blow guys off for a place to sleep rather than use the trust fund or Daddy's credit card for a room at the Marriot. They get a free continental breakfast post blow so that rationalizes it.
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Jun 08, 2015
It is not perfect but definately better than 95% of the other series...
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Jun 06, 2015
I don't really think is so similar to Izombie.But that "intelligent and too cold person " it's becoming cliché...
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Jun 06, 2015
What happened to Ed Clark?

Wasn't Clarke's father floated from the Ark early on??
Ups, sorry, wrong show... ^)
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Jun 06, 2015
I actually liked it, until that banter mentioned in the article between her and her new colleague. Terribly forced, terribly delivered, terrible overall. Holy cow, was that bad.
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Jun 05, 2015
The title of this article was my first thought when I saw a few minutes of the show. Had to turn it off.
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Jun 05, 2015
"- I don't normally get annoyed by the pretty, young people who populate so many dramas aimed at younger audiences—I'm a card-carrying member of The CW fan club—but I did take notice of the scientists in the Stitchers program. Like, really? We're supposed to believe all these brilliant, young, arguably good-looking people are running this bitch? I don't think so. Maybe I've finally hit my limit." LMAO, could not agree more.
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Jun 04, 2015
Erm... well it'll do for the summer... I am sold on the female characters, even Ms Icecold Clarke but not so on the male players...maybe a wee bit on the detective.

Love Scagliotti and absolutely adore Richardson-Whitfield so will watch until bored.

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Jun 04, 2015
This series have to be more like Fringe and less like Flash
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Jun 04, 2015
Agreed on all counts hopefully as stereotypical as the pilot was the show will progress to a less cringeworthy state.
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Jun 04, 2015
This makes me miss The Nine Lives of Chloe King. Not that this show reminds me of it (I didn't even watch it yet). Just that this is all they can come up with since then. Hmph.
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Jun 04, 2015
I didn't mind it its light and fresh and not too heavy I'll definatly keep watching
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Jun 04, 2015
She looked good in the catsuit so I'll probably watch it again.
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Jun 04, 2015
Spot on review. How are they gonna tell us that her condition has kept her from being able to feel emotions her entire life, and then directly contradict that by showing that flashback of her being broken hearted after watching her real dad walk out on her? And they were trying way too hard to force chemistry between her and Cameron.
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Jun 04, 2015
I guess I'm in the minority, but I kinda liked it. Yes, it was a bit stiff, but it was the first episode, so I'll give it room to grow. I've always had difficulty with time perception, so I actually related to the made up 'temporal dysplasia' diagnosis a little bit (not extreme like the character, but still...) So I'll give it more time before making any judgments. I'm still heartbroken about losing Forever, so I need something to look forward to. And there's not much else happening in the 'new' category that is appealing to me.
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Jun 03, 2015
Character Pack No. 1 with beautiful body's and ditto faces coming up. They got a warehouse full of them. Over here we got the "Made for CW" department and over there the ABC storage Fosters, Pretty Little liars and miscellaneous gorgeous people. On the first floor there is MTV's young, trendy and beautiful Eye Candy / Finding Carter stash. In that show even the old people look good. Cynthia Michele Watros for instance. She is 46 and still looks pretty good. Hate those people. TV is wish fulfillment i guess ? Or is that my inferiority complex talking. OK i am a couch potato and i am drinking a six pack instead of creating one in the gym by training six hours a day. You don't want to see me shirtless. I got my brain cells. Two of them.
Self deprecating much ? Not so random association:

Pay your surgeon very well
To break the spell of aging
Celebrity skin is this your chin
Or is that war your waging
First born unicorn
Hard core soft porn
It's Californication :)
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Jun 03, 2015
How they select the new stitchers:

"The test is difficult, but you can do it. All you need is a number 2 pencil. You will find the answers in a booklet in front of you. You have five hours to complete the test. You may star now. Good luck. Uh... Well... La, la, la. Ahem... Who thinks five hours have already passed?"

"I do," says a girl in the back of the room.

"Congratulations! You have temporal dysplasia. That was the real test. You passed. The others are dismissed and can go home now."

I think they want people with temporal dysplasia because they can work overtime and you don't have to pay them extra!

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Jun 04, 2015
"I think they want people with temporal dysplasia because they can work overtime and you don't have to pay them extra!"

ROFL!

I had a workmate once that had some time problems too: if she took her watch off she could not tell how long it had been since she started doing something but she did not have those extra cool side effects that "everything that happened to her was instantly familiar" :-D
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Jun 08, 2015
Whatever they had it was not temporal dysplasia. It does not exist as a real medical condition, not is there anything similar.
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Jun 03, 2015
I totally agree about the perspective issue. The memories should have been first-person memories like, uh, I don't know... iZombie? Also, one of the key components of this procedure is to connect to and interpret the emotions related to the specific memories of the deceased. how do they expect someone who doesn't understand emotions to do that?

Also, the two roommates seem quite unlikable. The review said enough about Kristen. And Camille was clearly jealous of Kristen's brilliance, and wanted her in academic suspension for a petty revenge. A bigger person would have been satisfied with her work being restored and Kristen receiving a warning. And even knowing Kristen was locked out of the MIT's system because of her suspension, Camille wouldn't let Kristen use her computer, even when Camille knew Kristen would break into the dean's office and possibly get in trouble with the law.

The guys were OK but they didn't cause any lasting impression. The only one I liked was the boss, perhaps because of her work in Eureka.
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Jun 03, 2015
Maybe it's me getting old, but kids playing adult bores me to tears. Give me life experience, give me human beings. Perfection is beautiful but oh, so boring. I watched this online a couple of weeks ago and gave up after 15 minutes. For once I agree completely with Tim and his review.
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Jun 03, 2015
SORRY, huge mistake. I thought it was Tim's review. I agree completely with your text, Kaitlin.
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Jun 03, 2015
:-) Kaitlin just wrote a Tim review!!
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Jun 03, 2015
LOL
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Jun 03, 2015
All the characters talked much too fast. Like if the Gilmore Girls had a very special episode where they tried crack.

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Jun 05, 2015
Don't they teach elocution at acting schools anymore? The kids today all mutter in a low voice, no inflection, and so fast you need captions. I didn't understand a thing they were saying half the time. This is a very odd trend I've noticed. Very odd.
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Jun 04, 2015
LOL! I noticed that because I usually watch at 1.5 times the normal speed and this time I thought I had made a mistake and was watching it at 2x LOL probably there was a loooot of dialogue, not uncommon with pilots
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Jun 05, 2015
1.5 time? Is it any fun to watch TV like that?
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Jun 05, 2015
Too little time too many programmes (and other stuff to do!). Your brain gets used to it. Now when I go to the cinema it seems everybody speaks in slow-mo and I actually get annoyed...
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Jun 05, 2015
I might try that, at least with shows I'm not really into. Definitely should've done that with the movie Interstellar.
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Jun 03, 2015
Agreed. I had to watch that initial exchange between Kristen, Camille (and that PHD guy) more than once to figure out what is going on. It didn't help that I thought this show was The Whispers, which made it more confusing. (Well, both shows are "The" + "some cryptic noun in the plural".
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Jun 03, 2015
Re: the pretty person comment. I had the same reaction watching MTV's Eye Candy earlier this year. Every scene was so jarring because I simply never bought that ANY of the characters were old enough or accomplished enough to accurately play their characters, especially the two leads and the best friend who owned the club
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Jun 03, 2015
minority report meets izombie in a medicore fusion of.... MEH!!
I honestly sometimes believe that writers of tv shows are trained monkeys who eat bad bananas and poop out bad scripts on keyboards.
And then there's the typecast actors.. what an utterly horrible and yet terrible real concept....
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Jun 03, 2015
l love this show, i just pray they don't cancel it after one season.
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Jun 03, 2015
sorry...love me some syfy, but i turned it off in the middle...
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Jun 03, 2015
Get your head out of your ass Kaitlin - Pretty Little Liars is and forever will be the best thing ABC Family ever produce
Despite it's rocky moments the show has done well

Chasing Life has already been done before - it was called The Big C - the best thing about it is the Wings reference that i read about
The Fosters sounds like a bad CBS sitcom
And Switched At Birth sounds like a bad daytime soap opera

Mysteries&Family; Drama ANY DAY
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Jun 04, 2015
No reason to be rude.
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Staff
Jun 03, 2015
You tell me to get my head out of my ass and yet you're writing off three series based on their titles and that's it? Really? Love PLL all you want, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but until you've watched Chasing Life, The Fosters, and Switched at Birth, please reserve judgement on them.
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Jun 03, 2015
the "i am not mad i'm disappointed" kaitling FTW. Really love Chasing Life and The Fosters and don't forget MTV's Finding Carter. Currently at 71 on Metacritic and still no reviews on TV.com. Man don't cry but my eyes hurt after each episode.

Digressing: OMG Carter tell your sister you slept with Max already. Dark clouds hanging over the episode and 39 minutes and 16 seconds later she still has not told her. Yeah, she will go ballistic for five episodes but in the end she will forgive you because well you know family.
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Jun 03, 2015
Didn't you pre-judge Jane the Virgin based on it's title? and now you love it - someone learning from their own hypocritical mistakes?

I don't intend to watch any of those shows because none of them tickle my fancy --
If i wanted to watch a show about a woman coming to terms with cancer and living life to the full, i'd watch the much more mature Big C
Switched at Birth and The Fosters just don't sound like a show i can get involved with

i'd rather see a mystery show than the usual 'family drama' from ABC Family but this is a network that cancelled Twisted yet continue to renew Baby Daddy so my faith in them creating shows is very limited

Didn't everyone go crazy over Bunheads too? the pilot was crap (i just don't get the Amy Sherman-Palladino love)
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Jun 04, 2015
Literally everyone judged Jane the Virgin by its title because A) it's a horribly stupid title, but also B) that and a logline were all we had to go on. There were no episodes for me to watch at the time. It's slightly different when you have access to the shows, which you do here. I mean, it's fine if you don't want to watch them and aren't for you, but you will probably continue to be called out by people for deriding something you've never seen.

And to answer your last question, yes Bunheads was pretty beloved.
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Jun 04, 2015
Hypocrisy is stagger
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Jun 03, 2015
I too thought the casting was cookie cutter, many of the actors playing a nearly identical role as they had in previous shows. That said, they did cast people talented at playing those roles. And yes, the nerd references did seem forced. The faux science, however, is interesting and presents a lot of room for plot lines down the road.
I disagree with the criticism that there was no indication that Kirsten was being "infected" with emotions until she said so at the end of the show. In fact I thought they portrayed that well when she touched the woman in the memory and she suddenly shook as if chilled. Then she came out of the memory and still retained the emotions of the woman and kissed her boss passionately. Then there were more subtle changes in her behavior leading up to her admission.
At the end of the show I was left wondering if I could watch a series with an interesting story but whose characters you had no connection to. I'm still wondering. Perhaps the writers could get a few tips from the guys that do Scorpion, another cast of nerds but ones you can actually like and care about.
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Jun 03, 2015
Hah! When she touched the woman, I'm pretty sure what she experienced was an orgasm!
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Jun 04, 2015
I thought about that... but her reaction was confusing because it looked like something new to her...
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Jun 05, 2015
I know that's what you meant. I'm just saying her look of confusion didn't have to mean she'd never had one, just that it was strange to be experiencing one under those circumstances.
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Jun 04, 2015
Wouldn't it be NEW to you if you casually touched a stranger while standing up, fully clothed and found yourself experiencing THEIR orgasm?
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Jun 04, 2015
I meant new as in she's never had one, not new as in oh what an interesting way to feel an orgasm...
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Jun 03, 2015
So much optimism :-)
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Jun 03, 2015
Everything you said is true, Kaitlin, and yet I liked it. The comments that it shouldn't be taken seriously and just treated as entertainment are a good rebuttal. The science is gonna be iffy at best, the characters are going to be cliche, and if you just suspend criticism, it can be a fun ride.
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Jun 03, 2015
Yeah!
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Jun 03, 2015
You did hit your limit, just like I did with the brain eating stuff- No more! :-)

I would place this show somewhere in the Eureka-Warehouse13 radius, and not iZombie's. Those shows were liked by fans, but there was no way to take them seriously. They made no sense at all and the fun had to come from other sources (characters chemistry, feeling of belonging, fun crazy storylines). This one could be the same. Or not. We shall see :-)
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Jun 03, 2015
You are right that it can't be compared to iZombie but I disagree that it's closer to Eureka-Warehouse 13. Those shows didn't take themselves too seriously and as a result they were funny adorable little shows. The tone in Stitchers is way too serious and the execution doesn't support that. I won't say it's bad (tastes being, you know, personal and all...) but I can't see it becoming the next... I don't know, anything? Maybe I'm being harsh.
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Jun 03, 2015
If you feel the need to be harsh, be harsh. I'm reading the comments and see that a lot of people agree with Kaitlin in many points but still don't hate it, and are planning to keep watching. I don't think it is correct to say that the show takes itself seriously. I really think that they are aiming to Eureka-Warehouse13, no wonder they got cast members from those shows (in very similar roles, even). We still have to see if they make it, though.
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Jun 03, 2015
Maybe being harsh is allowed, but people put in effort for this result, even if don't appreciate it. Yes, I found it derivative, generic, by-the-numbers TV and I obviously missed the whole W13/E vibe, as Kaitlin calls it below (or it just wasn't there and all you people are crazy and I'm The Lord of the universe) but I would hate it if I realised that I'm being flippant with a product which people made for my entertainment. I didn't enjoy it but I didn't hate it. I won't be back because I have too little time and too many other things to do (and shows to watch) and as it turns out I enjoy more chatting with you about it than actually watching it. Of course, if I hadn't watched I wouldn't be here chatting with you about it. Go figure.
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Staff
Jun 03, 2015
To be honest, I don't even hate it. Despite how harsh the review is. And I think it's because I see the Warehouse 13/Eureka vibe they're trying to go for but haven't quite reached. I do hope it can get there, but I'm not sure it ever will.

(As for the iZombie comparison, it's just the using of the memories to solve crimes premise that I was comparing it to, not much else. The fact that they premiered so close together is just unfortunate because otherwise there is no need TO compare them.)
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Jun 04, 2015
mad-pac: I hate to say it but iZombie is much more entertaining than Tru Calling. I love Eliza Dushku as much as any Whedon fan but Rose McIver has got more range and is the better actress...
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Jun 03, 2015
And iZombie reminds me of a sort of carbon copy (hey, who remembers those?) Tru Calling. Let's see... Young female doctor/medical graduate + morgue + bodies who "speak to her" + clues come from a fantastic source + memory-related + solving murders + male antagonist/villain with same powers.
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Jun 03, 2015
I liked it right away - sure it doesn't follow all the rules - but it is for entertainment and it Did entertain me for an hour.. I fear cancellation with anything new anymore - 3 or 4 shows and if it isn't top of the charts - it's gone. I liked the characters - as far as not explaining about her father- etc - it was the first show, maybe they want to develop this and give the secrets at a later date. Why does everything have to be realistic? Gotham isn't .. Under the Dome isn't, The 100 isn't.. (ALL excellent shows IMHO) why can't folks just like a good show without picking it apart? I enjoyed the pretty people. If I wanted to watch ugly people I'd walk to the city corner - I pay for TV and pretty people are pleasant to see. It is reviews like this trash that get shows cancelled long before they have had a chance to prove themselves. I'm not a kid.. in my 60's - it gave me something to think about.. real or not. It provided entertainment away from life for an hour which is what TV should do.. and it was not some lame teenybopper show you don't have to engage in thought over, which is what most Tv has become. Give it a chance. The personalities of the characters to me were spot on for who they were portraying - as far as this being from a third-party bystander perspective.. it would be boring from a first person.. Personally I see this show developing into a good series.. if folks stop nitpicking it. If you cannot handle the quick back and forth conversation or the pretty people - maybe you need to go spend time watching Bruce 'er Caitlyn Jenner's new reality show instead.
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Jun 03, 2015
I didn't have the problem with the fast talking; I had a problem that it was FORCED fast talking. Like kids in a drama class jumping all over each other to get their lines out and have that first appearance on stage out of the way. I said the same yesterday, but it made the show impossible to suspend disbelief and impossible to NOT see that they were simply acting, and acting badly.

I think the show COULD improve, but I don't think it will ever get the chance to. I'd be surprised if it even airs beyond a few episodes.
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Jun 03, 2015
Wow.. Burn!
I was put off when I read the show's synopsis, it just sounded lazy or I suffered my own case of temporal dysplasia. The visions perspective would definitely annoy me and cult references with no love behind them are embarrassing for a show.
Even the show title Stitches is asking for trouble, especially if it is remembered for dying a horrible TV death.
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Jun 03, 2015
good comedy
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Jun 03, 2015
"he nerd culture that's so "hot" right now, that the script was pumped full of tired references specifically designed to do just that."

I always wonder how one differentiates tired cultural allusions from untired ones. Warehouse 13 was filled with them. iZombie is filled with them. Supernatural is filled with them. Flash is filled with them.

The Middleman used to be filled with them. I'll admit, they were clever (less tired?) than most. I still get a chuckle from Frank Herbert Junior High School and the main character Duncan of the episode living at 1965 Caladan Lane with a mother named Jessica.
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Jun 03, 2015
I think the point about cultural references is that they went with the obvious rather than more obscure -- the ones that ONLY a real nerd would get.
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Jun 03, 2015
Case in point, Cameron refers to "Doctor Who" as the name of the character, which no real fan of Doctor Who would do. But... if he just said "The Doctor," the audience probably wouldn't know what he was talking about.

He also says "since 1963", which is redundant since the show started in 1963. I'd like to see someone name an actor who played the character before the character was created. :)

Besides, I can't imagine a "real nerd" having trouble naming all of the actors, and tossing in Peter Cushing and Trevor Martin as well.


Felicity saying that Ray Palmer could recite the plots of all 34 seasons of Doctor Who was a bit more challenging. Even I'd have to think over some of the Troughton 60s episodes for a few seconds. Is the plot of "The Space Pirates" really on the tip of most DW fans' memories?
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Jun 03, 2015
IMO, a cultural allusion that only a real-life nerd would get would fail in its purpose of demonstrating to the audience that the character speaking is a real nerd. Because most of the audience wouldn't understand it, and thus wouldn't understand it was an allusion only a nerd would get.

Even The Middleman stuck to relatively well-known TVs shows, books, and movies. Ghostbusters, Dune, Star Trek, Doctor Who. It's just that a) they did more of them, and b) they wove them into the story as actual names and places--Easter eggs, if you will--rather than simply have the characters mention them in context with both their setting and our real world.

Also, The Middleman really was aimed at nerds. So they could get away with using names from, say, Escape from New York or Outland or New Jack City or The Shadow occasionally. Heck, and all those were just in one episode.
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Jun 03, 2015
That's what 95%+ of TV writers do, though. When was the last time you heard a Wild Cards or The Shadow or Spawn or heck, even a Dean Koontz allusion?
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Jun 03, 2015
Cool! I didn't connect those other two. I should have at least connected Hammil, but I didn't remember him in the original.
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Jun 03, 2015
That, and while I could post a copyrighted screencap here of Cisco's computer screen showing Hamill in his 90s costume...

...I can't put it on the actual episode page. Basically the episode pages are walls of text. So it's no wonder nobody looks at them.
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Jun 03, 2015
Hammill plays... the Trickster in the original. In fact, they used photos from the original show to show Hamill's Trickster when he was captured back in the day in the new show.

Which, amusingly, proves a point I was discussing with someone elsewhere. We have this information on the episode pages here. It's surprising how many people don't check them out. On the other hand, I understand why. I don't blame you or anyone else: the pages are slow to load and awkward to read.
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Jun 03, 2015
Who's the third actor from the original Flash? I got the father and the female scientist. Who am I missing?
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Jun 03, 2015
There are four actors: the father, the female scientist, Mayor Bellows (Bellows was a recurring comic-relief cop in the original series: presumably he conned his way into the mayor's office), and the Trickster himself.
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Jun 03, 2015
Running joke on Psych was a reference to The Mentalist.
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Jun 03, 2015
I loved your comment about Stargate, Star Trek, and Q!
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Jun 03, 2015
The Flash also gets oddly meta without quite being meta. They have three actors from the original 90s series, playing the same characters., You'd think that would mean the two shows share the same universe, and the current version is a continuation of the previous one.

But... the fourth shared actor, John Wesley Shipp, plays a different character. So unless Henry Allen had a twin brother named Barry back in the 90s, and he also got super powers from being hit by electrified chemicals, and he teamed up with Dr. McGee to fight villains like Mark Hamill's Trickster (as well as a different version of Captain Cold). And everyone in Central City forgot about that Flash...

...well, the two shows aren't sharing the same universe. So recyclilng the same actors to play the characters is just meta homaging and Easter egging, rather than actually trying to connect the two shows.
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Jun 03, 2015
True. The best ones do, though. Cisco on The Flash is great at them. Abed on Community. Buffy characters had a lot of them. NCIS throws quite a few out, too.
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Jun 03, 2015
@bstolemyremote: I'm not sure what means any more than I know what "tired" means. :)

Assuming the "world" of Stitchers is the same world as ours, the references fit, yes. But I can only think of a few shows that could or do have references that don't fit. The aforementioned potential DC allusions in Arrow and Flash, for instance. If Cisco mentions the 60s Batman show, then you have to wonder: wait, so there is a Batman comic in the Flash world that was the basis for a TV show? And Bruce Wayne is Batman in the show. So, is there a Bruce Wayne in the Flash world and if so, wouldn't a TV show about him being Batman give away his secret identity?

The whole thing gets weirdly meta at some point. Some shows just ignore it. For instance, Stargate had tons of Star Trek references. But no one wonders why Frank Simmons looks like Q, Vice President Kinsey looks like Jellicoe, Dr. Markov looks like Troi, Woolsey looks like the hologram Doctor...
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Jun 03, 2015
Without having watched Stitchers (caveat), it also sounds as though its cultural references don't fit within the world of the show. Folks who saw the pilot, could that be a part of it?
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Jun 03, 2015
Also, in fairness, Cisco can't do any DC Comics references. Which tends to limit the writers' pool of allusions a bit...

Stitchers had references to Batman, the Batman 60s show, Catwoman, and Superman. None of which you could do on The Flash without badly damaging the fourth wall.
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Jun 03, 2015
But to me, the Cisco references are just as "tired" as the ones heard on Stitchers. Or just as untired, as the case may be. I seem to recall Price said something about all the ape allusions in "Grodd LIves" getting tiresome in his Flash review of the episode. How many times on how many shows do we have to hear "Get your stinking hands off of me!", for pete's sake?

But anyhoo, I have to go enter the cultural allusions for this episode of Stitchers. :)
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Jun 03, 2015
I suspect whether one likes the show determines whether you find cultural references in it dated or not.
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Jun 03, 2015
One or you? Posh or not, decide ;)

Perhaps. For me I didn't like it because the writing was bad, or that's what came across..
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Jun 03, 2015
I didn't judge whether they were tired or not. To me, a reference is a reference. I'm not even sure what "tired" means in this context. Do a lot of shows reference Doctor Who these days? Yes. But that's because it's a popular show. these days. I don't think it's any given writer's fault that other shows use it.

IMO by definition, most cultural references are "tired." That's kind of the point: that you want to use references that a lot of people know and understand, and have heard over and over. A TV nerd making a reference to, say, Master Ajidica, would just draw blank stares from 99% of the viewing audience.
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Jun 03, 2015
I don't know: I guess I found the pilot to be OK?! The premise reminded me a bit of iZombie, yes. But that's not a problem as far as I'm concerned. I also didn't have a problem with fast-talking characters. As Gilmore Girls and Bunheads fan I didn't even recognize it.

I did have my share of problems with the visual aspects of it though. There was this gloom effect when Kirsten was stitched in that I found hardly tolerable. And the video quality on YouTube wasn't all that great. I'm not talking about resolution (though 480p seems like a weird choice) but the show did look like it was copied from a video cassette.
The whole lab and crew thing was something I found to be just wrong right from the start. Take a look at Topher's lab on Dollhouse. That's how you do it. The lab on Stitchers seemed to be a mixture of the Enterprise bridge and a broker's office. And the people there: We had someone handsome and smart, Raj's cousin and so on. Talk about stereotype casting. The only way it could've been worse would be if they had Maggie replaced with some white-haired older man who would become some kind of father figure to Kirsten.
I also didn't like her room mate at all. The whole "I kicked you out, about time you come pick up your things" was so bad. And since I understood the scene with their professor the way that Kirsten did not in fact sabotage her room mate's laptop but instead used the time to fix whatever problem she had by using her phone (which in itself was kinda stupid) it appeared to me that she had no reason to be this mad at her.

But still: The fact that they tried to force Kirsten and whatshisname into the will-they-won't-they couple right from the start could be a sign that the character development won't be as dragged out as for example in NCIS. Don't get me wrong: The execution was poor at best: Why is it again she had to sleep at HIS place after she fainted? Were there no beds at the lab?

Maybe I'm just to naive but I think that this could be fun. Especially since I hardly ever dismiss a show because of some kinks in the pilot. We'll see how the next episode goes.
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Jun 03, 2015
Spot on review, Kaitlin! And yet, I'll probably watch another episode or two to see if it can overcome it's pilot-itis. But that's a TALL order.... temporal dysplasia... HA!
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Jun 04, 2015
I watched the pilot years ago...or maybe I just finished it. I'm not sure TBH.
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Jun 03, 2015
i liked it , but its hard to feel any connection with a totally emotionless lead character, so it might be hard to feel any emotion for her, if she stays like this. Basically she is sheldon without homor. you remove the humor from sheldon's character and he becomes a douchebag.
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Jun 03, 2015
There's a number of popular douchebags out there, though. Sherlocks, Houses, and such.
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Jun 04, 2015
Backstrom.
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Jun 12, 2015
That one got cancelled though.
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Jun 03, 2015
Actually I liked it a lot mainly because of the main character.
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Jun 03, 2015
After I watched the pilot on their website last week, I said you guys had an easy inclusion on the WTF side of your weekly column, but i diden't see it included. I expect to see it included this week atleast.
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Jun 03, 2015
the pilot was a bit rushed, but I liked what I saw, and will carry on watching until some network exec farts and clears his mind and cancels the show.

I noticed that lately guys want instant gratification from a pilot, me, being an avid reader, want a good, engaging first chapter with the promise of a great book as I read on.

but then I also watched the pilot for Mr. Robot and almost went into shock it was so AWESOME.

lots of good shows never got the runs they deserved, some utter shit did.
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Jun 03, 2015
This was a bit meh for me, I'll give it another episode or two, though.
Couldn't agree more on Mr Robot, I had no expectations - didn't even know what it was about, and I'm completely hooked! It's really, really good!
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Jun 03, 2015
It was pretty good. I will keep watching.
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Jun 03, 2015
  • I couldn't stop thinking about Fringe the whole time.
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Jun 03, 2015
An out of touch executive who said Google things nerds like... brilliant but redundant.
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Jun 03, 2015
Forget about the irritating personalities -- lots of people are jerks, and this show seems to have not a whole lot more than its fair share of them. The really annoying thing is the super-fast talking, a common problem among shows that try too hard to be "smart" (e.g., Sports Night -- ugh).. Rattling off lines like a machine gun isn't smart; it's obnoxious, and it sets off my bullshit alarm like crazy. If they can speak at a normal human (non-hopped-up-on-pcp) tempo, I might give it a few more episodes, maybe up until it throws in its first "very special episode".
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Jun 03, 2015
Exactly! Nothing like speed reciting dialogue back and forth to let the viewers know that your not having a real conversation. It's the same problem I had with Scandal.
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