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


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.