‘Stitchers’ Season Two “on Set” Interviews

ABC Freeform approved Stitchers for a second season rather quickly after the season one finale aired. The series will premiere on March 22, 2016 and fans will be eagerly tuning in to see just how the first season’s cliffhanger turns out.

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Freeform approved Stitchers for a second season rather quickly after the season one finale aired. The series will premiere on March 22, 2016 and fans will be eagerly tuning in to see just how the first season’s cliffhanger turns out.

“Stitchers” is a show of many colours. It contains a touch of science fiction combined with mystery, as well as a little fantasy, a dash of action and a bit of romance…All of that diversity in just the genre department alone.

Add to this mix a cast of attractive and damned talented people who deliver great performances every week plus a creator with vision and a penchant for pop culture references and the end result is a show that entertains thoroughly.

It also has fascinating characters that are fleshed out well enough to make the events on-screen seem more plausible.

All of these elements combined to make the first season of Stitchers a hit with viewers and convinced the powers that be at  Freeform (then Family) to bring the show back for a second season.

After writing reviews for each episode throughout the first season, Mike’s Film Talk was approached by the show’s creator Jeff Schechter. Mr. Schechter left an open invitation to visit the set if the series was approved for a second season.

It was.

On January 28, 2016 this writer was allowed the privilege of visiting the main Stitchers set and also interviewed the  cast and the show’s creator Jeff Schechter. On that long day, the cast and crew were filming the second season finale and the actors graciously fit in long moments of time, out of their hectic schedule, to speak with Mike’s Film Talk.

(Throughout the following  articles Mike’s Film Talk will be shown as MFT during the Q&A sessions.)

The interviews will be broken into three different articles: One for the men of the show, one for the women and another for the creator.

All of those interviewed agreed that this season of Stitchers was going to be even better than the first. Two-point-oh (2.0) was the phrase used a lot, with the implication that all the characters have evolved along with the storyline of the verse.

The location of the studios where Stitchers is filmed, except for location shooting, is Santa Clarita Studios (roughly 30 minutes north of Burbank and very near Magic Mountain) which is  scattered over an area that includes “gated” premises and other stages nestled amongst the buildings and industrial estate of Santa Clarita proper.

Entering the main gate, one immediately sees stages off to the right. To the left, and slightly behind the gate is the main complex, its front covered partially with ivy and glass. Immediately in front of the gate are a number of vans, trailers, and a caterer’s area.

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Caterers, the main complex and a left over bit of set dressing  from Vegas

Getting checked off the visitor list and texting the publicist Robin meant having a little time to look around and take in the surroundings. Seconds after texting  Ms. Finn, she  arrived and proper introductions were made. While waiting for her to park up, the first cast member to come wandering by  was Damon Dayoub (Detective Fisher).

MFT: “Hello. I’m going to be talking to you later.”

There was a shaking of hands as he commented on my being from Mike’s Film Talk.

Damon: “Nice to meet you, I’ll see you later.”

The very tall actor then moved past an unmarked trailer and within seconds “Linus,” aka Ritesh Rajan came walking from the same direction as Damon and once again a short conversation took place between cast member and Mike’s Film Talk.

After a very brief introduction, Ritesh revealed that he knew that interviewing would be taking place later and he then asked if I was Michael.

While answering in the affirmative, the publicist came back and Ritesh made his apologies and moved past the same trailer as Damon.  As the itinerary for the day was being laid out, Allison Scagliotti also wandered over from the same area that Dayoub and Rajan had come from earlier. “Camille” was simultaneously texting on her mobile phone and looking over what looked like a script.

She too headed toward the same nondescript trailer outside the soundstage. As a couple more publicists arrived, one transitioning and the other an intern, we all moved into the soundstage and headed back toward the interview area.

A conference room had been set aside, conveniently located right behind the “stitch-room” where Emma Ishta, as Kirsten, is stitched into the memories of the recently deceased by Cameron (Kyle Harris), Linus (Ritesh Rajan) and Camille (Allison Scagliotti) while being overseen by Stitchers head Maggi (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) and assisted by various technicians such as Tim from engineering (Cameron Britton).

This is the same set where Cameron “killed himself” to allow Kirsten the chance to stitch  into  his memory in the season one finale…It is also where the series ended on a cliffhanger, as he was not responding to resuscitation attempts.

Amazingly, the entire lab area fits into one sound stage. The tank, where Kirsten is submerged for the stitch and the rest of the set  all fits easily into an area that shares space with a catering niche, the video viewing area (where the director works along with continuity, makeup, and the DP and assistant director and a plethora of other people, including, on this occasion, Ms. Scagliotti when she was not on camera.

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No this is NOT where the set is located, but it is a Santa Clarita soundstage…

As the second season finale was being filmed, it was all hands on deck with rehearsals taking place between shooting and interviews being squeezed in wherever possible. All of this frantic activity took place with the players and facilitators all being extremely pleasant and accommodating.

Sidenote: After working in television over a number of years, this was the first time, in America, that this writer stepped foot on a working soundstage, the last being in 1978, at Fox studios. Almost all work in the business took place on location shoots in England, with the exception of Anglia Studios in Norwich (1994) for ITV’s “The Chief” and a Tonka commercial in Amsterdam.

It also has to be said that the interviews themselves were great fun as each of the performer’s were not only very open about the upcoming season, but they also humored the interviewer by laughing at his abysmal attempts to be amusing.

Actor John Billingsley was working on this day and it was impressive and not a little overwhelming to see this performer’s consistent energy level as take after take (for different camera angles and so on) was filmed.  Sadly, the prolific character actor was not on my list to interview, but watching his performance was awe inspiring.

Each cast member spent a considerable amount of time chatting with Mike’s Film Talk and Jeff Schechter managed squeeze an impressive amount of interview time in the time allowed.   The total amount of time accrued speaking with these marvelous folks necessitates the three article breakdown.

Stitchers is going to hit televisions screens on March 22 and the interviews will be spaced out to allow fans of the Freeform series plenty of time to see what the performers have to say.  Mad props and a massive amount of gratitude goes to the publicist who ensured  that the Stitchers visit went well.

 

Stitchers Gets Second Season and New Series Regular: Damon Dayoub

Damon Dayoub and Emma Ishta
Those who are waiting anxiously for the penultimate episode of Stitchers to air on ABC Family will be happy to hear the news that Damon Dayoub has been made a series regular and that the Disney owned network have given the greenlight for a second season of the show. Damon has played Detective Fisher and ever since the show’s “big bad” lured Fisher away for a “special” task, the writing has been on the wall.

In a July 28, 2015 press release it was simultaneously announced that Damon would be a regular feature in the “procedural” drama and that the show would be back in 2016. Exciting stuff for both fans of the show and of Dayoub. The actor has been a recurring presence in the first season of Stitchers from his appearance in the pilot episode, A Stitch in Time where Kirsten, the show’s protagonist, tells Detective Fisher (Dayoub) that she will prove him wrong about how her step-father/guardian died.

Damon Dayoub has been working steadily in the business since 2009, and rather interestingly showed up on The Last Ship in an episode as a Navy SEAL on the same week he appeared in Stitchers as a law enforcement official. Previous to his appearances in the ABC Family series, Damon worked on numerous projects including NCIS as a recurring character.

Dayoub has provided some good onscreen moments with both Emma Ishta and Salli Richardson-Whitfield in terms of personal chemistry. As Detective Fisher, the actor walks the line perfectly as a by-the-book cop who is drafted into a job very much outside the box and far from what he is used to.

Stitchers is essentially a science fiction drama. The series is about a young woman with a temporal disorder who is “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased in order to harvest their memories. (Hence the tagline, “Memories Never Die.”) Emma Ishta stars as Kirsten Clark; temporal girl, Allison Scagliotti is Camille her roommate and colleague, Kyle Harris is Cameron the project wunderkind, Ritesh Rajan is Linus; wunderkind number two (I heart Linus – watch the show to learn the significance of that little phrase.) and Maggie, department head and the boss with “ulterior motives” is played by Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Another recurring character is “big boss” Les Turner who is portrayed by none other than Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Extinction, The Mummy).

The series is executive produced by Jeffery Allan “Jeff” Schechter; who is the Stitchers creator. The other executive producers are Jonathan Baruch and Rob Walken. If Jeff’s name sounds familiar he was co-creator on the 2009 “tween” comedy Overruled; that ran till 2011.

The casting on this show has been spot on. The chemistry between all the main characters is perfect, each one have brilliant give and take moments and delightfully natural delivery. Their performances are all impressive and feel almost spontaneous. While this is partly due to the actors themselves, the rest is down to the writers who make this topical and pop culturally “quippy” series crackle.

Even the secondary characters, who are moved to centerstage at appropriate times, have an excellent rapport with the main players and each other. Cameron Britton, as Tim from Engineering, “Tim has never liked me,” says Cameron in one episode, has moved up in the cast ranks and he was the “office savior” in Fire in the Hole.

Stitchers is a cracking series that deserved to have a second season. Great writing, gripping storylines, pop culture references that delight, a cast to die for and some very, very funny moments. All this and set pieces that raise a lump in the throat if not an actual tear…or several. Stitchers airs Tuesdays on ABC Family. Stop on by and see what you have been missing or tune back in to see just why the show has been approved for a second season.

Kudos to all the folks who make Stitchers such great viewing and for getting that second season. Plus, congratulations to Daman Dayoub for his promotion to series regular…Now if they can just get Oded Fehr to become a regular…

Stitchers: Fire in the Hole (recap and review)

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Stitchers last week was an almost perfect blend of mystery, comedy, and clever writing. In Fire in the Hole the comic touches are still there but this episode focusses on life and death not from without but from within. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this segment is its dealing with the irony of a team that interacts with death and all it entails on a daily basis suddenly being thrust into the arena of personal mortality.

This episode looks at how each team member faces the very real possibility of their own demise, “I’m choosing to panic in my own way,” says Tim while munching on what looks like grapes, and it shows how they have all bonded. Even the engineer has been accepted by Cameron and vice versa. By the time the end credits roll, Linus and Camille are apparently a real couple, instead of what she was aiming for, Kirsten knows more of the truth, although it is doubtful that Maggie has not embellished things, this is a woman who will always “hedge her bets,” and Cameron moves that one step closer to a relationship with Clark. Liam, the “Mr. Mary Poppins” wild card is being left to wriggle on the marriage proposal hook for the time being.

The episode is all about irony, as signposted by the opening. Kirsten is in the elevator heading to the lab. She enters the facility to find flashing lights and alarms blaring while her colleagues rush here and there in a panic. Cameron spies Kirsten and rushes up to her. “Thank goodness you’re here,” he says while grabbing her arm. “We need your help,” Cameron says and drags Clark out of the main lab.

He leads Kirsten into another section yelling that they are running out of time. The two enter the room to a surprise birthday party for her. Camille, Linus, Maggie and the rest all shout surprise and Tim rises from the back of the room, cake in hand, to move forward with the “office” birthday offering. On the cake, are two brains, one is red the other blue, that have a line of led lights leading from one to the other. The room of colleagues sing happy birthday and as the song finishes, Kirsten asks, “Are those brains?”

After apologizing for her lack of reaction, “sorry guys, surprise anything doesn’t really work on me,” the party is over. The brains are taken by Linus and Camille, “At least we have cake,” and eaten. That these two were meant for each other is obvious. The alarm that sounds the death knell for the party is a new stitch arrival.

A leading lab researcher, Dr. Barmal committed suicide in her apartment and the team need to learn why. The woman worked with infectious diseases and mutated viruses so the information in her head could be of vital importance. After initial concerns that her corpse could be contaminated Maggie assures the team that there are no signs of contamination.

Barmal killed herself with sleeping pills, her body was found slumped over in under a scalding shower and the temperature in her flat was extremely high, all this information adds to the mystery of why she killed herself. The team learn that the deceased had a photographic memory and never wrote anything down. The stitch is the only way they can learn anything about what she was working on.

As they prepare for the stitch, Camille asks Kirsten about the marriage proposal. The two talk about it and Clark asks her roomie to keep the news about Liam asking her to marry him quiet. If, she says, Camille has not managed to tell the whole lab already. Looking at the comms mic by her mouth, Kirsten realizes that the entire lab has just learned of the proposal. Linus and Cameron share a look.

Maggie welcomes Fisher back from his “special” assignment for Les Turner and she reveals it “kinda sucks” being in the dark, something that the detective has complained about in the past. Fisher enjoys her discomfort. As he leaves Fisher tells Maggie to let him know if there is cake. Cameron runs through the checklist prior to the stitch and quips that comms works fine, alluding to Kirsten’s inadvertent sharing of her Liam information.

Once in the stitch, Kirsten leans that the doctor injected herself with a mutated version of the Spanish Flu and then gave herself another shot intended to counteract the effects of the virus. While Clark is still in the stitch, Maggie decides to clear the lab of all non-essential personnel.

Alarms begin to go off in the lab, just as they did when Kirsten arrived for work. This time, however, the threat is real. Barmal’s body has become symptomatic and infected the entire team. Maggie puts the facility under lockdown. Camille says, “I hate being right all the time.” She was the only person to state what a bad idea it was to bring the doctor into the lab. She is rapidly becoming the voice of reason in this verse.

After the lab has been isolated, something that Les Turner demands happen to Kirsten, each of the team members begins getting ill. Later when learning about the problem of Barmal infecting the entire team. Turner tells Maggie that Kirsten “must be protected,” and tells the stitch leader that whatever happens to anyone else is inconsequential. Her response to his order is “Yeah, good luck with that,” the same thing Kirsten says when Maggie relays the isolation demand to her.

Later, when Maggie reveals the truth to Kirsten about her mother and Ed, it appears that Clark is very special and that the stitcher program has been going on much longer than she realized. It really is beginning to look like the woman was “designed” to be a stitcher.

The team put their collective intellects together to work out a solution. It is decided that they can use the quantum computer to come up with a cure. Kirsten goes back into Barmal’s brain after having to argue her point. Clark gets off a good one with her response to arguments being made against her going back into the dead woman’s memory; “Besides, It’s my birthday and I can stitch if I want to,” she says with a cheeky grin.

Going back into the stitch, she observes the doctor writing a formula on a whiteboard. The stitch begins to collapse and she barely makes it out in time. This is beginning to become a trend with Clark; leaving it till the last minute to bounce. A signpost of bad things to come?

After Kirsten is out, she writes the formula and when she asks if anyone recognizes it, Cameron does “Bones” from Star Trek, “Dammit Jim, I’m a…” His riff is not appreciated by Maggie who tells him to focus. As he gets to business and asks Linus for input, they realize that “i heart guy” is the first of the crew to fall ill.

As the team members all begin to get sick they try to find a solution to their problems, one of which is how to get into the lab (Ayo tries and after Maggie tries an override they learn they are locked out). Camille saves the day by climbing into the medical lab through a cabling tunnel. Cue an encounter with a rat and some excellent comedic moments for Scagliotti as Camille. Also cue that look from Linus, the one that says his love and respect for this woman just reached new heights.

The two have a very touching moment and seconds later, Maggie tells them to call any loved ones. The computer has revealed that the doctor’s cure should have worked but did not. While everyone else reaches out to loved ones, except for Camille which endears her to Linus, and the audience, even more, Cameron reaches out to Kirsten, revealing more about his backstory and she in turn focusses upon finding a solution.

By the end of the show, Clark shows how much she has bonded with Cameron, Fisher and Tim the engineer save the day and the stitcher team have become more closely bonded and proven that they can work together through an emergency. Les Turner reveals that the most important part of the Stitcher program is Kirsten. We also learn much more about each main character with some peripheral ones stepping up to the fore.

Kudos to Cameron Britton, Emma Ishta, and Kyle Harris for knocking out it of the park. Ritesh Rajan and Allison Scagliotti are just brilliant in this episode and Salli Richardson-Whitfield rose to allow her character to show a touch of vulnerability. The writing was spot on, as usual, and Fisher’s line about cake was perfect.Stitchers is top of the ABC Family lineup and is not to be missed. It airs Tuesdays, mark your calendar.

Stitchers: The Root of All Evil (recap and review)

Camille and Kirsten in Stitchers
Last week in Finally the series upped its game and things got exciting for Linus, Les Turner stopped by to see his stitcher and by the end of the show, Kirsten found a key left by Ed, in The Root of All Evil, everything comes together in what may be the most perfect blend of mystery and comedy in Stitchers thus far.

At the start of this episode Kirsten is contemplating the found key when Camille enters the room waxing lyrical about a pair of boots. After complaining that they are not paid enough she goes into a detailed description of the footwear finishing with a plaintive “and a kitten spool heel.” Kirsten tells her roommate and work colleague to “stop whining” and to ask for a raise, “like normal people do.” Camille questions Kirsten’s awareness of normal in response.

After a short discussion about the hot water heater and Camille’s overly long showers, Kirsten timed her last one which make Camille say her behavior is “mega” creepy, there is a knock on the door. Camille opens the door to find a good looking Englishman on the other side of it. Kirsten looks up and says, “Hello Liam.” It turns out that this new chap is Ms. Clark’s boyfriend.

The two women are called into work and seconds into the latest case meeting, Camille mentions Liam. Maggie has a private meeting with Kirsten’s roommate and tells her to research the new boyfriend. Camille says she is not comfortable with that and Maggie reminds her that it is for Clark’s safety. She then starts to ask her boss about a raise and gets cut off, as Maggie leaves the room Camille mutters that she is “not comfortable with that either.”

The latest victim that Kirsten will stitch into is a Jane Doe. As the team prepare to set up the stitch, Cameron’s last minute instruction is for Clark to find a name for their unidentified girl and she replies “let’s hit the road already.” Dr. Goodkin then responds with Dr. Emmett Brown’s line from Back to the Future “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” Cameron is quite the pop culture aficionado at these moments.

When Kirsten goes into Jane Doe’s memory, she is in a party and it looks like the deceased is very well off, has a tiny dog that is barking at a chap on the floor of a mansion and toward the end of the stitch she ends up in a bathroom that is clearly in a different residence. In the stitch Jane holds up a magazine cover that has a picture of the mansion on it and they ID the house. Maggie tells Cameron and Kirsten that they will go to the mansion, which belongs to Joe and Suzanne Parks.

Outside the building, Kirsten calls Detective Fisher and tell him that he was wrong about Ed Clark killing himself and Cameron shows that he is more than a little jealous about the existence, and sudden appearance, of Liam. Camille, however, is bowled over by the “perfect” chap with a six pack.

Maggie tells the couple about the death of the girl and they have no idea who it could be. Kirsten almost reveals too much information and outside the mansion boss Baptiste says that Clark is not foolproof and Cameron sticks up for his colleague saying that until foolproof shows up, Kirsten is the next best thing. She looks surprised at his pronouncement.

Back at the lab Linus has identified the young woman via her dog. Linus also puts his name up to adopt the orphaned pet. Cameron and Kirsten go to her home and find a lot of jewelry hidden in the toilet cistern, as seen in the stitch. While putting together all the pieces of information about the dead girl, Maggie reveals that houses near where Miller’s body was found were broken into. Camille suggests that Kirsten be released early for a meal with Liam.

Linus and Cameron go to the spa where Bentley Miller’s friend, spotted in the stitch, works. Kirsten goes home to find Liam has fixed the hot water heater and he is confused at her behavior, not aware that she picks up bits of the deceased’s personality from the stitch; which he also knows nothing about. Camille and Maggie talk Liam Granger and she reveals to her boss that he checks out, she also starts to ask for a raise again only to be cut off by Baptiste. After Camille leaves the office, Maggie looks through pictures of Liam and discovers one that concerns her.

The two men enter the spa and inform the receptionist that they need to speak to Miller’s friend Sadie Morton and Linus pulls a “police” badge that he picked up at Comic Con, which actually has “Imperial Police” stamped on it. They talk to Sadie and it is revealed that the two women held parties in the homes of rich spa clients who were on holiday. She also explains that Bentley stole from the houses and that at the last party held, in the Parks’ home, he came back early.

Liam and Kirsten have some quality together time and Cameron calls her repeatedly to relay the new information gleaned from Sadie. He shows up to see why she is not answering her phone and meets the boyfriend. End result is that Cameron is now more jealous than before. Cameron says that Kirsten acts differently around Granger, “more of a Betty, less of a Veronica.” She asks him who he is (in the Archie verse) Archie or Reggie, he replies “Possibly Jughead.”

As they discuss Liam, the Bentley part of Kirsten comes to the fore and she asks why she cannot have it all. The “sort of” boyfriend then comes out of the kitchen with desert, perfectly stored in swan tinfoil origami, seems this chap really is practically perfect.

A second stitch is taking place and as the team prep Cameron does the sound check, “Talk to me Betty.” “Yes I hear you Jughead,” Kirsten replies. After Maggie questions the conversation, Linus says, “I thought I was Jughead.” Clark goes into the stitch and learns what really happened the night that Bentley was trapped in the house. She filmed someone having sex and blackmailed Parks, this resulted in her murder.

After the stitch the group are discussing Linus’ adoption of Giorgio when Maggie comes out announcing that Mr. Parks is in custody, he apparently sent a text to Bentley a week before she was murdered. Cameron invites the team to his place for a victory dinner and both Camille and Kirsten beg off as Liam is cooking them something. Linus and Cameron opt for a “Bro” night as his adoption of the dog is turned down, the animal does not like men. Goodkin tells the girls to have fun with “Lance.”

Cameron and Linus talk about Liam, and his Greek-God-like abs, and Linus googles Granger and reveals that the man is indeed perfect. They decide to have a real bro night versus the faux bro night. Kirsten buys the boots, with the kitten spool heel, for Camille and Clark has a flashback to the stitch and realizes that whoever killed Bentley was a woman and not Mr. Parks as Giorgio did not bark at the attacker.

The two women go to the Parks’ residence and the guys recruit Tim, from engineering, for a real bro night of beer, video games and dodgy snacks. Tim proves that not only is he “the man” on video games but he can crush a beer can on his forehead. Meanwhile Kirsten has hacked the security system on the Parks’ house and they enter to look for the gloves seen in the stitch. Back at bro night, Linus tries to crush a beer can on his forehead and knocks himself off the couch.

As they search for evidence, Mrs. Parks comes in and confronts them. Kirsten spells out just what happened and pulls the phone, containing the video that Bentley made, and Parks pulls a gun. Kirsten instantly hurls the jewelry box at the woman disarming her.

Linus and Cameron swear off women and sex in order to harness their kundalini. Tim, while playing the video game, snarls that neither of the other two are “getting any, anyway.” Cameron throws the engineer out and before he leaves Tim grabs the biggest chunk of cheese. Camille asks for her raise and gets it. Kirsten is contemplating the key when Liam comes in and after a very short preamble asks her to marry him, and being perfect, he is on bended knee while doing so.

The Root of All Evil has some brilliant comic moments and allows one of the periphery characters to share the limelight (delightfully so). Newcomer Jack Turner, who plays “sort of” boyfriend Liam Granger (who may just be the male version of Mary Poppins – practically perfect in every way), is a good match for Emma Ishta who is channeling her inner stitcher brilliantly. Allison Scagliotti, Kyle Harris, Ritesh Rajan and Salli Richardson-Whitfield all vied for the comedic award in this episode, but the winner, by a crushed beer can had to be Cameron Britton at bro night.

The writing, as usual, was clever and full of pop culture references and the scripting of the show is perhaps the main reason it works so well overall. Entertaining, yet full of mystery; with puzzles to solve along the way, and topically relevant (i.e.Comic Con badge) and…Oded Fehr back for another quick cameo as the scary/creepy boss who may make Liam disappear. The only tiny bone of contention was the twist of Mrs. Parks being the murderer as Sadie said that Mr. Parks returned early not her. Regardless of this little glitch, Stitchers is great television that airs Tuesdays on ABC Family, miss this and miss the best TV you will see this year.