Dead of Summer and Guilt Get the Freeform Axe

ZELDA WILLIAMS, MARK INDELICATO, PAULINA SINGER, ELIZABETH LAIL, RONEN RUBINSTEIN, ELI GOREE, ELIZABETH MITCHELL

According to SFGate, Freeform have given Dead of Summer and Guilt the axe after one season.  While ABC, according to Variety have cut down their order for Conviction and Notorious.

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 Versus Dead of Summer: Why Is Freeform Hesitating?

 EMMA ISHTA

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.”)

Tony Todd
Dead of Summer, Tony Todd as Holyoke

 

Dead of Summer:

CAST:

Synopsis:

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 Series:

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.

RITESH RAJAN, DAMON DAYOUB, EMMA ISHTA, KYLE HARRIS
The Stitchers team.

Stitchers:

Cast:

Synopsis:

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 Series:

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.

Conclusion:

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 two petitions 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.

Stitchers: Season Three Still Not Confirmed by Freeform

Stitchers Logo

Stitchers started two seasons ago on ABC Family. The network,  in an effort to sound more hip and relevant to the younger demographic it  wanted to appeal to, changed its name to Freeform.  Regardless of the name change Stitchers has stayed the same. An entertaining procedural crime show set in a high tech world of science fiction.  As fans wait anxiously, Freeform has yet to confirm a third season for this excellent show.

The reason for Freeform dragging their feet on a decision could be blamed on live viewership dropping  in the second season. This could have been down to the fact that the network changed the slot for the show. Marketing also shifted. A lead-in show finished and it seems that Freeform was, and still is, more interested in its summer replacements.

(For the record these are the London based “Amanda Knox” style murder mystery Guilt starring Daisy Head, Emily Tremaine and Billy Zane – Anthony Head, Daisy’s dad,  also has a role in the show. The second  is Freeform’s answer to MTVs Scream; “Dead of Summer.”)

Thus far neither show has performed overly well in live views. In the opinion of this reviewer “Guilt” never will garner a huge audience for a number of reasons and unless the body count and humor increases in the Friday the 13th homage, neither will “Dead of  Summer.”

Regardless of whether the network is hedging its bets with the two new shows or not, fans of Stitchers have busily started petitions to get the show brought back for a third season.  There are two petitions online right now.

The first was started by Alyssa Lemke on Petitionbuss.com (click on this link and sign the petition if you have not already) and the second is on Change.org. The latter petition was started by Stitchers fan Tyler Parker. (Head over and sign this one if you have not already.)  Both fans have managed, between the two of them, to garner over 9,500 signatures.

Why do the shows fans care so much?

It could be down to the personal chemistry of the show’s stars: Emma Ishta (Kirsten), Kyle Harris (Cameron) ,Ritesh Rajan (Linus), Allison Scagliotti (Camille) ,Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Maggie) or Damon Dayoub (Quincy Fisher).  

It could also be down to the ongoing storyline of Kirsten Clark…Or the brilliant writing, or the characters or the  pop culture references that make the show so much fun.

Having interviewed the show’s creator and executive producer Jeff Schechter on more than one occasion as well as the cast, on-set it is easy to say that Mike’s Film Talk can be counted as a huge fan of the show. (After finishing this article we will be heading over to sign the petition as well.)

In our humble opinion the show’s fans love much more than the romantic possibilities of “Camsten.”  Stitchers has so much more to offer. Strong female characters and men who appreciate them for starters.  A running mystery that begs to be solved and of course the question of the real reason  behind developing the “Stitch” program.

The show tells of Kirsten Clarks ability to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased. The lab and the program are part of the NSA and no one has revealed just what the agency really means to use this technology for.

It is inconceivable that Freeform have not yet given a third season the greenlight. Surely the + 7 figures have come in by now and shown that the live views are inconsequential.  The way the world watches television has changed.  DVR, VoD, Hulu, and Internet streaming are all avenues that viewers can use to watch their favorite programs.

Other networks have realized the fallacy of this old fashioned ratings system.  Freeform should step out smartly and do the same.  Bring back Stitchers for another season. So many things need answers and the fans are crying out for the show’s return.

So come on Freeform, it is time to get off the metaphorical pot and make your move.

We were going to post a survey on this article about what you, the fans, want to have happen if the show comes back. Instead we urge everyone who loves the show to head over to either  (or both) the petitions and leave a signature. Let Freeform know how you feel. So many of you already have but more can never hurt.

Follow those links and sign. Help to bring “Camsten” and Stitchers back.

Stitchers Season Two Interview: Jeff Schechter

Last, but definitely not least, the last of the Stitchers season two interviews is here. Jeff Schechter executive producer and creator of the series was able to take time to speak about the next season. Jeff and Mike’s Film Talk have been talking for some time, there was an interview last year and further, very short, conversations via DM.

JEFF SCHECHTER

Last, but definitely not least, the last of the Stitchers season two interviews is here. Jeff Schechter executive producer and creator of the series was able to take time to speak about the next season. Jeff and Mike’s Film Talk have  been talking for some time, there was an interview last year and further, very short,  conversations via DM.

It is fitting that Jeff was the last person interviewed on “the day” as he is the chap who drives the vehicle that is Stitchers and able to talk about, and confirm, what the cast were saying. One thing he agreed with was the phrase that the series this year was Stitchers 2.0. He also revealed a few things that we cannot talk about too much, to keep from heading into Spoiler City, and a few others that can be.

(sidenote) The first episode of Stitchers season two is called…drum roll please…2.0.

We also talked a little about the Halloween special,  candy corn and Cameron and Kirsten’s “relationship.”

MFT: After talking to everyone on the set, they have all declared that this is an amped up version of the show and that thinks were darker. More intense. Was this an arc you planned all along?

Jeff:  Yes. The whole idea all along was to sort of ease ourselves into the lives of these characters and as we move forward kind of progress them emotionally.  You talk a lot about season one being the creation of family? If you look at all the characters…

MFT: Yes…

Jeff: You know Cameron, we don’t know anything about his dad, although we do learn a huge thing about his dad this season, but last season we’ve got his mom who doesn’t even recognize his voice over the phone. So you know there’s a story there.

MFT: Yes.

Jeff: Then obviously Kirsten has her issues, Camille left the trailer park around the age of 16 and raised herself. We have Maggie who, we learn in episode eight, has an estranged son who may or may not even want to talk to her over the phone. She’s not even sure if he’s listening to the message on the phone. Fisher is  divorced…

MFT: Right.

Jeff: And you have Linus who, even though he has the most stable family, has a little tension with his parents between their kind of life an his wanting to branch out on his own. So season one took all the orphans, basically, and forced them to become a family. 

Now  we have season two and it’s “Okay, now that we have a family how do we deal with each other.”  Like family is messy so there’s a lot of coming together and drifting apart and learning other people’s feelings and learning how to be supportive even though it may not be what you want. But it’s something that is good for a family member.

So there is a lot of that and it is that understanding that sort of forces the stories forward. But it’s not a overly mature turn as the stories are still fun.Everything we liked about “Stitchers” season one is all still there; all the interplay, the banter, it’s the relationship stuff but all taken to the next  level. It really is like Stitchers 2.0.

MFT: Right.

Jeff: The cases are bigger, the stakes are…stake-ier (laughs) beefier (laughs again). Everything is an amped up version of the stuff we liked and hopefully whatever was not working as well as we’d liked in season one is fixed up.  

MFT: We’re not going to lose the pop culture references are we?

Jeff: No, no there will still be  a bunch of them in there. We actually start getting self-referential this season. There is a scene where they are talking to the bad guy and he makes a pop culture  reference to Kirsten who has the person on the speaker phone. The reference is about Star Trek Voyager series and Kirsten goes “I have no idea what you’re talking about and Cameron, who is on the couch nearby goes, (whispering) “I do.”

MFT: (Laughs)

Jeff: So we’re having fun with all that.

MFT: I know I’ve mentioned this several times and to members of the cast, but my favorite was the Buckeroo Banzai line. Although I had to look it up! After finding it  I was like, this is now my favorite program.

Jeff: Okay, I have a “Mike’s Film Talk challenge.” Episode six, before the first stitch Cameron does this huge pop culture reference so you have to figure it out…

MFT: Okay,  I’ll figure it out! Now I have to ask you. No one else may know but you will.  I mentioned it in my review but no-one came back to say yay or nay. So I have to ask. When Cameron goes off on that candy corn rant was that a reference to the Amanda Stenberg rant on corn rows?

Jeff: It was not.

MFT: NO? I just knew that’s what it was.

Jeff: Nope. That episode was written by Lynne Litt and Eric Tuchman and I think it’s Lynne who just cannot stand candy corn. I remember when I read it I was like, “Ooh, somebody doesn’t like candy corn!”  (aside) “Lynne if you ever read this, I apologize if I got this wrong.” 

MFT: Okay I was reaching too far on that one. I saw John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise, True Blood) today and got really excited. Is he going to be a recurring character this season.

Jeff: Yes he  pops comes in around episode two or three and he’s in the hierarchy  in the NSA, he’s above  Leslie Turner.

MFT: What is his role going to be?

Jeff: Well now our are older and more mature they need a firmer hand than Turner.

MFT: I had decided that Turner was a baddy from day one. As the show went on I kind of wavered on that. I remember that Damon said the character answered  everything so ambiguously that it was difficult to know where he stood.

Jeff: I think initially we were going to have Turner always tell the truth, or at least not lie, about things he was asked. That was the intent but, I think, we had a hard time sustaining that trait.  It did work for quite some time, in episode five (in season one) he does answer every question put to him about Marta.

‘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.

OMG_3832

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.

IMG_3813
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.

IMG_3815
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.