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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content