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SDCC 2017 ‘Stitchers’: Keep it all in the Family

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

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By Alicia Glass

Stitchers is a breakout hit on the Freeform TV channel, featuring Kirsten Clark, a woman suffering temporal dysplasia (a fictional condition that prevents her from sensing the passage of time) who is recruited to a super-secret NSA program. The program uses technology they call “stitching”, that allows Kirsten to dive into the memories of the newly-deceased. Kirsten is joined by neuroscientist Cameron Goodkin, bioelectrical engineer Linus Ahluwalia, computer scientist and roommate Camille Engelson, LAPD officer Detective Quincy Fisher, and headed by the redoubtable Maggie Baptiste.

I hadn’t thought Stitchers was popular enough to get their own panel at Comic-Con, but then again, Season 3 of the show started fairly recently and the line to get in to the panel was out the door and down the sidewalk, so color me pleasantly surprised! The panel featured Emma Ishta (Kirsten), Kyle Harris (Cameron), Ritesh Rajan (Linus), Damon Dayoub (Fisher), Executive Producer Jeff Schechter, and was moderated by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook!

EP Jeff talked about how the Cam-sten shippers are making things actually a bit harder for him, as Cameron and Kirsten were tossed together pretty much in Episode 1 of the entire show and for the next ten episodes they turned into like the perfect couple. And while that may be good for the characters, it makes for poor drama, even he was bored. So we’ll make it rain on their parade, rain on these two saps with all sorts of troubles that prevent their romantic relationship moving forward, especially that thing discovered recently, that if Cameron and Kirsten raise their oxytocin levels by means naughty or nice even a little, it prevents them from stitching effectively!

It’s not a spoiler to mention that Linus lost his father in the very first episode of Season Three, and Ritesh Rajan went on to talk about how such a storyline has massively affected his character. “He’s a character who wears his heart on his sleeve, very open and genuine, so for him to go through something so shocking and heartbreaking, it does leave him with an emotional scar that’s going to change him for the rest of his life,” Ritesh said. “It started the season that way and just catapults the character in a direction of massive growth. He’s forced to deal with these changes and this heartache, and he wonders, where is it going to lead him?”

Damon Dayoub good-naturedly endured ribbing about his being the father figure of the stitchers team and kind of the class clown of the cast of the show too. He laughingly went on to state that he became an actor so he wouldn’t have to wear a suit and tie every day, and yet here he is as this character who, inevitably, wears a suit and tie every day. “So, that sucks,” Dayoub grinned, “And I’ve got to shave every day, and as you can see I’m not a big shaver, so maybe next season,” as he nudged Schechter down the row, “Fisher could go undercover! A big beard and no showers, come on, what do you say?” To which Schechter smirked, “We’ve had this conversation before, and it’s still no.”

Rajan had a fun Comic-Con exclusive moment when Moderator Holbrook mentioned Linus knowing pi to umpti-squat-decimal-place and asked him what number he, Ritesh Rajan knew it to, which was rather small. Of course a fan in the front rows had to shout out a correct answer, and got applauded by the entire Stitchers cast!

Kyle Harris was charming and funny, struggling to recall all the nicknames Cameron has tossed at Kirsten so far, “Stretch, ‘K, Cupcake, Sunshine, Blondie, Chewie (as in Chewbacca from Star Wars),” and of course some helpful wag from the audience shouted, “Princess!” as well. Harris grinned when Holbrook mentioned Cameron’s gamer-geek-god experience in a recent episode and asked what games he likes to play in real life, answering with, “Mario Kart,” and challenging the cast to play the game on the giant SDCC screen to see who’s best! Harris didn’t deny it either, when Ishta told the entire panel about how Harris had donned (and broke) her stitch suit and climbed into the tank they use for stitching on the show, actually finding a photograph of that instance on her phone to share!

Harris got his own good-natured ribbing to endure too, as the entire cast and the EP goaded him about checking his hairstyle in every single last reflective surface he could find, including but not limited to the shooting cameras and the tank itself! And of course the fans wanted to hear, as soon as they heard that Harris does voice impressions from some of the geek culture references on the show, so Kyle obligingly mussed his hair and growled a line from as Doc from Back to the Future!

Some interesting trivia, it turns out that Kyle Harris and Grant Gustin of CW’s The Flash fame are super best pals in real life, and even share a musical background, as do many of the main cast members of Stitchers. Of course this sent the fans slavering for a musical Stitchers episode, which I don’t think would be too hard, but I personally am more interested in what else Schechter teasingly stated, which was a cross-over episode between the major Freeform shows, Shadowhunters or Beyond, and Stitchers, now there’s a real challenge!

The panel was wrapped up with loving fan questions, but before that the Mod asked what we can expect to see from each character in further coming episodes of Stitchers. Dayoub of course replied mysteriously about his character getting back together with his wife and making some big decisions; Harris intimated about Cameron getting into a row with Maggie; Rajan lamented the difficult-to-read women in Linus’ life; and of course Emma Ishta flip-flopped between Kirsten’s mom, dad, and sister. We were also treated to a genuine San Diego Comic-Con 2017 exclusive bite: we the fans will meet Cameron’s mother in the next few upcoming episodes of Stitchers!

Catch Stitchers on Freeform, Mondays @ 9/8c!

‘Beyond’ Finale: Is there Life in the Afterlife?

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So it turns out that, despite being filmed in a much more linear and episodic manner, ‘Beyond’ is a watered-down attempt at the Netflix opus ‘The OA’. We’re dealing with concepts of near-death-experiences or NDEs, life and death and the actual existence of an afterlife, and powers learned from touching the realms of these un-provable concepts. In all cases, it seems, these powers in particular are unstable and unpredictable, but are potentially catastrophic.

Holden Matthews (Burkely Duffield) is no stranger to this concept though, as he fell into a coma as the result of an accident when he was very young, and stayed there for twelve whole years before suddenly, inexplicably, waking. His body was being taken care of in the hospital as best they could, but when he woke Holden experienced no ill affects other than large gaps in his pop culture knowledge and dating experiences, at least at first. Holden begins manifesting what only can be described as otherworldly powers, mostly what looks like telekinetic emotional backlash when he’s scared or livid. But Holden also begins suffering visions, landscapes of ethereal plains that seem familiar and a haunting old man who wants him to harness his powers, both here in the otherworld and out in real life.

Spoilers live in the afterlife too!

We meet Willa (Dilan Gwyn), the enigmatic lover of Holden who has a clear agenda of her own, claiming she was with Holden the entire time he was in his coma, off in this transcendental world they refer to simply as the Realm. Willa’s grandfather, Arthur (Alex Diakun), off in his coma too but with some sort of magical sciencey phone app that allows him to communicate with her, happens to wear the face of the old man that’s been haunting Holden’s visions.

A fair amount of tedious backstory boils down to an interesting conceptual question – is there a real, knowable afterlife? Arthur and certain Isaac Frost (Martin Donovan) desperately wanted to answer this question, after Willa’s mother fell into a coma bringing her into the world. Long after they split over their philosophical differences, Frost used his power and influence to create this kind of death cult called Hollow Sky, while Arthur used one of the coma-inducing machines he built to send himself into the Realm. All this happened quite some time ago, but upon finding Holden and his somehow unique experiences in the Realm and special brain, everyone wants to use Holden for his, or her, own purposes in the here and now.

So what now? Holden is awake and being chased down by the Man in the Yellow Jacket, who technically works for Frost; Holden is dealing with his mom and dad being separated and his younger brother now acting out in college; and the memories of the Realm, which we now understand is more or less the anteroom to the afterlife, are coming on stronger too. Arthur and Willa were training Holden in the Realm, which apparently began to bleed over into the real world once he was awake, and unfortunately that makes him a good target for the Man in the Yellow Jacket and other Hollow Sky cronies. Jeff McArdle (Jeff Pierre), Kevin’s older and much more militaristic brother, is determined to avenge his little brothers murder and save Holden as best he can too.

Much of this is on the surface, and the underlying story of the afterlife question lingers in interesting use of CGI and green-screen effects. During commercial breaks in the show, the cast and crew of Beyond have snippets of effects used on the show, acting tidbits and mini character bios, which does make for interesting viewing but does rather take away from the attempt to build believable wonder in the Realm and the Afterlife inside the show itself. Despite the implausible atmosphere in previous episodes, the finale at least does deliver in a satisfactory manner on that score. With fairly simple concepts and effects reminiscent of the movie Ghost, Beyond brings across a comeuppance to most of the villains and a palatable pause to the good guys that brings approval from many skeptics.

Again like The OA, the show starts with a strong concept and pilot episode, staggers a bit in the middle with some gratuitous storytelling, and finishes with a pretty darned satisfying finale that closed off some major storylines and opened a few new ones for Season Two.

Explore the concept of an Afterlife with Beyond Season One on Freeform!