What’s Worth Watching: Stitchers Plays High-Concept Mind Games

Adam Taylor/ABC Family

Stitchers, “A Stitch in Time,” (Tuesday, June 2, 9/8c, ABC Family)

ABC Family is going a little bit Syfy, in casting as well as high-concept, in its offbeat new mystery drama Stitchers. Yes, that’s Warehouse 13‘s spunky Allison Scagliotti as the snarky roomie of Kirsten, the show’s aloof main character, and Eureka‘s elegant Salli Richardson-Whitfield as the tough boss of the ultra-secret government agency that employs Kirsten. So who’s Kirsten? A female Sheldon Cooper (as in The Big Bang Theory), an emotionally robotic brainiac played by newcomer Emma Ishta, who’s almost too convincing in her lack of affect. But Kirsten is about to get a crash course in empathy once she’s recruited to join the “Stichers” team, a subterranean government lab which has developed technology that allows a subject to be “stitched” into the minds of the newly dead, usually murdered. From there, Kirsten can see and interpret their memories and figure out whodunit.

There’s a hint of Altered States or Fringe as Kirsten enters a watery “fish tank” device (wearing a form-fitting catsuit), from whence she performs her surreal mind melds. Like Liv in iZombie, she receives startling visions of what the dead person experienced shortly before death. The difference being that Kirsten only has to pick their brains, not eat them. Along the way, she engages in entertaining nerd banter with her fellow “Stitchers” techies, most notably the likeably neurotic Cameron (Kyle Harris), with whom we’re probably meant to hope romantic sparks will someday fly. In the first episodes, the mysteries are so thin you may wonder why everyone’s going to so much sci-fi effort. But watching Kirsten warm up along the way makes Stitchers a journey that might be worth taking.