About as slim as a sci-fi-inspired premise gets, “Stitchers” joins a long list of series built around wide-eyed youths with an unusual skill who are recruited to join a save-the-world-type enterprise. In this case, the protagonist is a beautiful and brilliant Caltech student with temporal dysplasia, which means she doesn’t feel the passage of time. Most viewers, however, will likely feel it acutely while wading through this tired and predictable hour, which centers on a secret program that hacks into the brains of the recently deceased to solve crimes. While its heroine might not know it, skipping “Stitchers” will save you time.
Kirsten (Emma Ishta, seen in the indie “I Smile Back” and ABC’s “Manhattan Love Story”) is an aloof tech genius who is quickly drafted into the program, which is run by Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield). Kirsten’s travels within the minds of the dead require wearing a high-tech, skin-tight suit that looks like the Catwoman’s, as she observes, although one suspects that from a marketing standpoint, the design was chosen for reasons more practical than utile. (The other option, she’s told, was to be naked — but that would have to play on a different network.)
Ishta fits the ABC Family profile, and looks great even when she’s poking around inside the heads of others. But the underpinnings of the show are so arcane that suddenly CW’s “iZombie,” whose central character gains similar knowledge simply by eating the brains of the dead, seems considerably more digestible by comparison.
Yes, the obligatory crack team surrounds Kirsten, but as crafted by series creator Jeffrey Alan Schechter (Todd Holland directed the pilot), they’re a pretty nondescript bunch. Nor does a mystery about her father’s role in the research that birthed the Stitchers program provide much incentive to want to enroll.
ABC Family has enjoyed success with a certain kind of drama featuring young women, and from a distance, “Stitchers” (a title, incidentally, that sounds like a casual shoe) appears reasonably compatible with that. After the first two episodes, though, the series looks less like a part of that collection, and more like a factory-made knockoff stitched together from pieces of other shows.