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ABC Family Kicks Off Summer With First Crime Procedural Premiere, ‘Stitchers’

ABC Family is kicking off summer with a new addition to the slate — the cabler’s first-ever procedural drama, “Stitchers.”

The crime series, which is lead-in by the Season 6 premiere of megahit “Pretty Little Liars,” is a case-by-case show each week, but still prides itself off of what the young-skewing network has already found much success in with its rabid social media-crazed fans: relationships ready to be shipped.

“It’s a character and relationship-based show that’s got a flavor of procedural,” exec producer Jeffrey Alan Schechter tells Variety of the drama that follows a young woman who’s recruited into a secret government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of dead bodies, using memories of the recently deceased to investigate murders.

Though the series is catered toward the ABC Family viewer, Schechter says the running themes, which are darker than the net’s norm, could certainly expand the audience, bringing in an older demo.

“The intent from day one was always to get a show that the people who really love ‘The Fosters’ and ‘Switched at Birth’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars’ will also love, but there’s enough in there and enough intrigue for the next age group in their 20’s and 30’s,” Schechter explains. With a laugh, he explains, “I’m pretty sure the body count in our pilot episode is greater than the body count in all the seasons of “The Fosters.'”

Schechter tells Variety why “Stitchers” could be ABC Family’s next fan obsession.

Why is “Stitchers” a good fit for older viewers?
Because of our concept, we tend to go into an older, less comfort zone kind of place. But we [also] have the science-fiction elements, relationship and comedy elements. Nobody is going to feel threatened or in a dark mood after watching “Stitchers.” It’s that next step up.

How is “Stitchers” more than just a procedural seres?
All the procedural elements are there, but it’s a more interesting human story, rather than just a really intriguing hard-to-solve murder. In a way, procedural doesn’t have much mystery to it, but if anyone has been a relationship before, that’s a much bigger mystery and a bigger story.

Besides recurring relationships, what makes the show different than other crime procedurals out there?
Relationships, science-fiction, comedy, mythology — the show really weaves all these things together. At any one moment, you’re watching a comedy, then it’s an action show, then it’s romantic. We turn gears on a dime. You kind of know what you’re getting, which is this crazy ride, but you never know moment-to-moment what that ride is going to look like.

What romantic relationships can viewers look forward to?
We made a conscious decision early on. Cleary, when you’ve got two attractive leads and one is a guy and one is a girl, the question is, when will they have their first kiss? Let’s get that out of the way in the first episode. One of them doesn’t remember it because it’s after being stitched — she’s very affected from the stitch, but she’s very emotional. We got the kiss out of the way and now we can ramp up the relationship. There’s definitely groundwork there for where Kirsten (Emma Ishta) and Cameron (Kyle Harris) will truly get together.

During casting, how did you know Emma Ishta and Kyle Harris were the perfect leads?
We threw out a really big net for both those characters. Emma was one of the first self tapes that came in on the first day out of New York. It was immediately like, well that’s the bar! [I thought] we couldn’t possibly have found this incredibly special person on the first day so we kept looking. Entertainingly, Kyle came in also on day one and also from New York…again, it would be impossible to find the perfect person from New York, also self tapped, also on day one. From all of our stretching and looking, these guys came to us. And not even from L.A.

Have you heard of the ‘iZombie’ comparisons?
It’s funny. I legitimately had no idea about “iZombie.” It was only after the “iZombie” pilot got announced that I got an email about it. I’ve seen “iZombie” and I think they can live comfortably in that same world. It’s just like anything else here — you’ve got a universe that’s established. And with “iZombie,” there are certain differences, in terms of the main character trying to fight zombie nature. It gets into the zombie mythology and we have a very different mythology. We kind of get supernatural, but only in a sci-fi way. Our cases are always grounded in something. We’re not in that real fantasy world.

“Pretty Little Liars” exec producer Marlene King has her own impressive following. Are you ready for the fan-craziness that will ensue on Twitter, being on ABC Family?
The good news is I’m not one of the pretty people on the screen. I don’t think the middle-aged Jewish guy form New York will be social media crazed, but I’m hoping people really respond to the show and have questions.

How about the cast? Do they have any idea what could be coming their way?
ABC Family has been terrific in giving them “Celebrity 101” — basically, here’s what your life is going to look like on June 3. They really do take the “family” part of ABC Family very seriously, in terms of protecting their talent. ABC Family is just brilliant at marketing and social media. Just the stuff that’s going on already, it’s been really impressive.

“Stitchers” premieres June 2 (9/8c) on ABC Family.

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