Rather interestingly, Freeform waited well beyond the normal time frame to make up their minds about three series up for renewal. Stitchers was kept hanging on the fence for ages while the network dithered about. It seemed they had their hopes set on Dead of Summer being their answer to MTV’s Scream.
Guilt, the Amanda Knox styled thriller set in England never really took off for a number of reasons.While Dead of Summer took too long to catch fire. The latter series crept along and never really made the most of the two “names” attached to it. Horror icon Tony Todd and Elizabeth Mitchell were little more than add-ons in the juvenile heavy cast.
ABC, after deciding to axe Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter have shown little enthusiasm for the English actress’s next project, Conviction. Variety reports that the initial 13 episode run has been cut down to 10 with no chance of a back nine being ordered.
That networks other starter, Notorious has not had any more episodes ordered and the series numbers seem to indicate that Piper Perabo may face a similar fate to Atwell.
ABC are said to be “keeping their options open,” but the reduction of episodes for the Atwell vehicle is a clear sign that the network have lost faith in the show.
Conviction starred Atwell as a former “first daughter” who breaks as many laws as she upholds. She is blackmailed into working cases that may have resulted in miscarriages of justice. While Hayley’s American accent was passable, the storylines were a tad humdrum.
Notorious is based on the real life relationship between criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and the award-winning cable newsproducer Wendy Walker.
Neither of these shows caught the eye of the audience and while ABC have not officially announced the show’s cancelations it is good bet they are both going to go.
Freeform’s reluctance to renew Stitchers (A show where a group of 20 something specialists help Kirsten Clark “stitch” into the minds of the recently deceased.) seems to indicate a reluctance to stick with original shows.
The other two contenders for renewal were either influenced by real life events, Guilt, or were an attempt to jump on the small screen slasher train, although Dead of Summer used the trappings of a slasher flick and morphed the whole thing into a “ghost story.”
Freeform also cancelled Recovery Road. The network is putting all their new ratings eggs in one basket with Pretty Little Liars producer I. Marlene King’s new series Famous in Love, starring Bella Thorne.
The newly renamed network, Freeform was ABCFamily previously, have made a few miscalculations on what their youthful demographic will actually like.
There will be plenty of slots left to fill after these cancellations as well as a chance to fill the Switched at Birth time slot once the last season finishes in 2017.
Stitchers is in renewal limbo. The Freeform show, which had its season two finale back in May this year, has yet to hear if it will have a third time up or not. In other words, season three is stuck in The Twilight Zone. Rumor has it that the network may be favoring Dead of Summer, a bargain basement summer filler that starred Tony Todd. It is Stitchers versus Dead of Summer apparently and neither show has come one step closer to renewal.
(A source told Mike’s Film Talk that it does seem to be down to these two shows. Whether it is a question of budget or just viewing figures at this point is unclear.)
The other summer “replacement” series, Guilt did not do well at all in terms of popularity. Although not all the figures are in, at least not publicly, (as in the +7 figures which should be crucial in deciding what shows should get a season) the initial figures are out.
They have been for some time.
Numbers for each show vary. Guilt comes in at the bottom, for a first season finish of .331 of million views. Pretty abysmal by any standards. Dead of Summer pulls into first place with .459. Having Pretty Little Liars as a lead-in obviously helped a lot.
Stitchers, which had a first season finish of .823 was a shoe in for renewal. However, having their time slot moved for season two and suffering from almost nonexistent marketing and publicity hurt the show second time around. They finished with .387 at the end of the season.
It seems though that when ABC Family decided to change their name, aiming for an even younger demographic, to Freeform, they also dropped any loyalty to Stitchers. A show with a unique storyline, great writers, an excellent cast and not one tired trope to be found
Let us look at each contender, Dead of Summer versus Stitchers. (Guilt surely cannot be a contender here at all, so that series will be treated as a “one-shot wonder.”)
A group of late teen/20 something counselors fight off an evil entity haunting a local camping ground. Deb Carpenter runs the summer camp for kids and has no idea the place is under an evil spell.
The setting, a summer camp for city kids, was initially evocative of cult classics like Sleepaway Camp, and the franchise that the 1983 film spawned, and countless slasher films, like Friday the 13th. It came as a surprise when the creators opted not to enter “homage” land (like the MTV Scream series) and deliver something boringly different.
While using the some of the same old familiar tropes from every “Camp Slasher” ever made, they disregarded many genre “rules.” As a result Dead of Summer came across as neither fish nor fowl. Using a hodgepodge of horror cliches the series ambled with all the speed of a sloth towards its season finale.
The last episode had a lot going on, but it felt convoluted. By the time the finale aired the best thing about the series had been “killed” off; Holyoke, aka Tony Todd. Although the horror icon had little to say for most of the season.
Elizabeth Mitchell was the other “name” associated with the show, and like Todd, she also got very little screen time. Her death in the series was not earth shattering, Deb (Mitchell) was not around enough to get really attached to.
The FX were, in some cases, abysmal. That clearly fake head of Blotter’s was so clearly not real that it was beyond laughable. DoS was not a horrible series but not good enough to hold off any other shows on offer.
A highly intelligent young lady with Temporal Dysplasia is able to be “stitched” into freshly dead people’s memories. She works for the NSA with a few other smart young men and women. The operation is spearheaded by Maggie, the mother figure of the group.
As they solve crimes and fine tune the program, the young lady searches for her father who may not be a very nice man. Along the way the team face many obstacles. Not least of which, are the intrusions of the program into their private lives and vice versa.
The second season followed Kirsten Clark (Ishta) as her “condition” appears to be cured and she intensifies the search for her missing father. All the characters from the first season have returned, with the exception of the shady head of the program Les Turner. (Turner was played brilliantly by Oded Fehr.)
Season two was darker and allowed the cast to grow. The events of season one bonded the team and in some ways made them all see life differently. The character arcs were logical, even if some of them were surprising, and the second season flowed nicely.
The writing for this iteration of Stitchers was still original, clever and chock full of pop culture references. (Something that was initiated in season one.)
As each mystery was uncovered many more questions were raised about who was really a friend and who was not. The theme of family intensified from season one and the romance between Kirsten and Cameron seemed to be heading to some sort of conclusion.
There are no real special FX apart from the CG that makes up the “stitch” and these are convincing. Out of two seasons there has not been one dodgy effect.
Clearly the budgets for both shows are pretty low. Stitchers has the advantage over DoS as they have an existing set. Although clearly the horror series did a lot of location shooting with some studio work for the interiors.
What seems to be happening here is that Freeform have, for whatever reason, started treating Stitchers like a “red-headed stepchild.” When they brought the show back for another season they changed their slot and turned their back on marketing the show.
The end result being a final set of ratings that hurt. The show is still popular, there a number of petitions from fans who desperately want to see more of the show.
To date well over 11,000 fans have signed twopetitions asking that the show be brought back.
It could be that Freeform have sabotaged Stitchers in order to veer away from an original and clever series. They appear to favor the idea of a horror theme. Like American Horror Story, Scream, and Stranger Things although the first instance has an older fanbase.
Stitchers has so much to offer. Science fiction, romance, drama, mystery and a few thrills and spills along the way. Dead of Summer was a plodding bit of horror that could have been so much better than it actually was. The show had a little gore, that was sometimes impressive, and it had the brilliant Tony Todd, whom they then killed off.
So what do you think? Which series do you think should return for another season. Personally, we here at Mike’s Film Talk vote all the way for Stitchers to return.
Let us know in the comments below which show you would prefer to see continue. Will it be Dead of Summer or Stitchers? Show Freeform and the cast as well as the creators of each show who you want back for anther go.