Third-episode verdict: Stitchers (US: ABC Family)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, ABC Family

Three episodes into Stitchers, ABC Family’s VR5 20th anniversary tribute show in which an emotionally cut-off young female techie learns to connect with others through a virtual reality technology, and we’re getting the measure of quite a silly, stupid but enjoyable show.

The first episode introduced us to the ‘stitchers’ programme, a covert government programme run by nerds that enables the ‘differently brained’ Monica Potter-alike Emma Ishta enter the memories of dead people and solve their murders by putting on a catsuit and lounging in a giant fishtank. Yes, you’re right – that is silly. But the show knows it and plays with it.

Since then, the show has gone through the traditional second episode retooling, with the producers retconning away so that they could add new members to the team, come up with a reason for Ishta to keep on ‘stitching’, make her boss (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) a bit more duplicitous and so on. It was all a bit forced and ridiculous, but we’re talking about a show where people communicate with the dead while quoting Batman and Galaxy Quest at each other, so it’s all pretty much par for the course.

Episode three was perhaps the most thoughtful episode so far, but as with Scorpion, which only really works once it’s exceeded a certain level of extreme lunacy, that meant it was the show’s weakest so far. It didn’t help that it was clearly a script commissioned before the retooling, which meant that the new additions to the team just sat around twiddling their thumbs like they were still stuck in the first episode. Or that Ishta’s strengths are in quirky, antisocial glibness rather than deep and meaningful. Or having the painful ‘girls v boys’ music argument. Or that the best nerd quote the show had to offer was ‘Thunderbirds are go’.

All the same, this is not a show that’s trying to be The Wire. It’s trying to be a bit of silly, escapist, summer fun, where epic nerds run around swapping TV quotes, discussing Settlers of Catan while solving crimes, and having silly little romantic relationships, with just enough of a series arc to distract you from the tedium of the pseudo-procedural A-plots of each episode.

And at that, Stitchers works just fine.

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: A bit touch and go whether it’ll last more than a season, but will probably turn out to be this year’s guilty summer viewing pleasure for many

  • Andy Butcher

    Agree on pretty much all counts. I knew episode three was going to be weak when it started with a 'How We Got Here' – never a good sign so early in a show's run.

    Still, it's stupid fun and I love that we live in a world where a Settlers of Catan gag is judged to be suitable for a mainstream TV show. I strongly suspect I'm going to stick with it to the end, although I can't see it getting a second season…

  • Was I imagining it or did they do 'How We Got Here' in either week one or week two as well?

    The nerd lines are odd. It's ABC Family so aimed at teenagers and young adults, but so far almost all the shows referenced have been from the 60s and 70s. It makes me wonder if either there's some US nerd cache for the old stuff or the writers are a lot older than the target audience.