RogerBW's Blog

Stitchers season 1 02 February 2016

2015 science fiction, 11 episodes. Kirsten Clark suffers from "temporal dysplasia" and can't feel the passage of time, but that makes her the ideal subject to be inserted into the memories of the recently dead.

So obviously what you do with that ability in a secret government project is to solve the murder of the week, while hinting at deeper and darker purposes. This is light skiffy filler that would have belonged on the Sci-Fi Channel back before it renamed itself after sexually-transmitted disease, but instead is made for ABC Family. Its main redeeming grace is that everybody involved clearly knows they're not making an enduring work of art for the ages, so rather than being all precious about it they just relax and have some fun. (This is a show that tries to justify putting the female lead in a tight wet bodysuit while having her mind poked into dead people's brains. It doesn't try hard, and it's obviously a tissue of excuses over the real reason, but it does at least mention it rather than just assuming that's simply the way things are.) When the series occasionally remembers that it's meant to be having an arc story as well, it can actually get pretty good. The show was created by Jeff Schechter, who has little track record in SF television (though he did write the sequel to Bloodsport, which even I haven't seen), and while he's obviously working out of the Dictionary of Cliché at times he manages to avoid many of the usual pitfalls.

But mostly I'm here for the acting rather than the plotting, the mysteries or or the nifty tech. SyFy regulars Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Allison Blake in Eureka) and Allison Scagliotti (Claudia Donovan in Warehouse 23) are clearly slumming here, but not as much as Oded Fehr in occasional appearances as the Sinister Boss Who Knows More Than He's Telling. Yeah, all right, I admit I wouldn't have bothered with this had it not been for Scagliotti, who's always good value even in material that's otherwise utter tripe, but it does have slightly more to offer than that – and it's not as though there's much good SF on television at the moment. Emma Ishta as the lead mostly has to look pretty, which she does, and sound smart, at which she's less good but not as terrible as most models-turned-actresses; on the other hand her gradual transition from emotionless hyperfocus to someone who's attempting to live her life is remarkably well-portrayed. The first couple of episodes are mostly setup, infodump and settling in, but after that there's a surprising improvement.

The series was renewed, and a second season is expected to be broadcast some time in 2016.

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