Do you find an actor or actress you like and watch everything they do? Are you a fan, who is like a stalker, because you binge on a favorite actor’s every show and movie?
If you are, then let me tell you about Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders, a.k.a. Cobie Smulders.
She is best known for playing Maria Hill across the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). She is also the one who has voiced Wonder Woman throughout the Lego Movies. Also, she played opposite Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. So, we know when asked to play a kick-ass female lead that she knows how to “bring it.”
This leads me to her new show, Stumptown. Which – spoiler alert – I am really enjoying.
But first, let me go on a small rant about when I was introduced to this wonderful actress:
Since she was Robin Scherbatsky in a little show called, How I Met Your Mother, I have watched just about everything she has starred in, except for a few movies. It is because she is just very likable.
Now, I did not like how they ended How I Met Your Mother. I loved her with Barney and then they went and threw her together with the main guy who was very unlikable. He only became likable when he met the love of his life and the mother of his children. They were so cute together and then they just had to ruin Robin by sticking her with that schlep protagonist of the show. It would have been nice if he would have just remained a widower and Robin went off to live a happy life away from him, and even Barney. That would have been fine with me. Is that wrong? Inappropriate?
She has great comedic timing. (And sorry I wrote “likable” much too much.) It’s needed for what I’m about to write next.
You join comedic timing with action and you get a P.I. TV show from the 70’s or 80’s. Right?
The Rockford Files; Columbo; Magnum P.I; McCloud; McMillan & Wife; Kojak; Baretta. Starsky & Hutch; Mannix. And more recently, Psych and Monk.
Right around the 1990’s to now, you haven’t had a lot of the fun and comedic private detective crime shows. You’ve had mostly just dark shows like NCIS or Law and Order, and their myriad run-offs, or Criminal Minds like shows.
You just don’t get the lighthearted brand of a detective show like in the old days.
Private investigators who are rogue and fight for the little guy is a common TV show trope that dates back to the age of prime time television of the 70’s. Mindless, maybe?
But boy, did crime shows get dark recently… and very graphic. You had Dexter and Hannibal and then one serial killer after another as both protagonist and antagonist.
It’s just been a lot of very sad, dark and graphically violent crime TV shows lately, and so a lighthearted comedic and witty bantering detective show is kind of a breath of fresh air, despite it falling the way of many tropes.
Back to Stumptown
As I said, a lighthearted detective show is kind of like a breath of fresh air. That’s why I wanted to initially watch Stumptown, but also because I love Cobie Smulders and think she is a very talented actress. (Her, being beautiful, does not hurt either.)
Despite the silly plot devices, like the broken down car that plays only one old cassette tape that is stuck in the cassette player, or the fact it doesn’t start when you need to escape, it’s still fun to watch.
What helps is the cassette is basically playing an awesome soundtrack of oldies for the entire show. It’s kind of a smart little device to play appropriate oldies as a backdrop to certain scenes. I loved how Love Will Keep Us Together played after she obtained a love interest for her client, and then you realize that love interest had something more diabolical in her plans for the client, but then it wasn’t all what it seemed, but then love triumphed at the end.
It was a cute little story for the second episode with lots of twists. Even by the end you are left wondering, “Is it really love, or is she still playing this guy for his money?” And they left it hanging like that for a reason: In life do you ever really know what is real? Is a life time partner someone you feel extremely comfortable with and is someone you can count on, or just really great in the sack and oozes with passion? What lasts over time, anyway?
The philosophy: just be happy with the now. Don’t overthink it.
This plays well with the back story of Dex’s friendship with Grey, played very awesomely by Jack Johnson (also good at mixing comedy and action), who she met six years earlier as a one night stand. The back story is done well, and you see that their relationship just is what it is, and don’t overthink it. What blossomed was a story of friendship.
I’ve been watching this show and it really comes to life with Dex Parios and her back story and life much more fully if you watch the first and second episode in tandem.
The pilot episode gets more into the story of why she drinks so much and is a mess. You find out she lost the love of her life, Bennie, while serving in the military. He was where he wasn’t supposed to be because of her, and so she blames herself for his death. She also struggles with PTSD, and thus drinks and gambles too much.
She’s a mess, which is a common trope of many-a-P.I. story. She gets beat up and hit over the head like four times in the first episode and then a few times in the second episode, and so that is also a common trope of P.I. shows. You begin to wonder if they have good health insurance. You wonder if they will suffer brain damage eventually like a football player or boxer. I mean, they get hit over the head constantly. Private detectives are either beating someone up or getting themselves beat up.
Aside from the common P.I. trope of getting the crap beat out of them every episode, you end up rooting for these misfits and that’s because they are… yes, I’m going to say it, “Likable.”
Then you have the head of the Native American tribe who is like a mob boss and the mother of said guy, Bennie, who died and she also blames Dex for his death. At least, you get that vibe that she blames her. But in the first episode she also hires her to find her granddaughter who, like Bennie, runs off with someone she says that she loves. It’s a family thing.
And so, in the first episode it’s about that dynamic of Bennie, Dex’s true love, and her living life in the city with his mother, played well by Tantoo Cardinal, and how she disapproves of her, but also in a way respects her? I think it’s an interesting dynamic between these two women. It develops through the first five episodes.
You also have the little brother of Dex, Ansel, who has Down Syndrome. The guy who plays him, Cole Sibus, also does a very good job.
You have a strong cast of characters, including the Portland cops that use her to help with investigations and encourage her to get her P.I. license if she’s going to be solving crimes before the actual police department does. That’s a trope!
The cops are Lieutenant Cosgrove, played by the awesome Camryn Manheim, and then the young Detective Miles Hoffman – probably the weakest link here – and played by Michael Ealy. He has to deal with his own past, and is constantly having sexual forays with Dex because, hey, they are both hot and young and need to have sex. That’s pretty much all it is, but I know the show is telling me he’s her love interest, but I really don’t care because I like Grey quite a bit more after episode two.
Mostly, I’m not watching to see if Dex hooks up with anyone. I want to see her solving crimes and evolving and living life.
There is also the grizzled detective, Artie Banks (Donal Logue) that mentors her, and he’s a total jerk, but then he comes full circle and learns to be a better person because of Dex, but yeah, that’s also a common trope.
Mr. Logue plays the 70’s grizzled detective well. His episodes were very fun, especially when they did a dream sequence where they did play in a 70’s type detective show called, Rip City. (I think that was episode three.)
Overall, because this has some great actors, and a strong cast of characters, the show is appealing. It’s not the greatest show ever made. It’s a good show. Plots move along well. Side characters and actors do their job. It’s an enjoyable show. I’ll give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but closer to 8.
And hey, Dex Parios is very… likable.
Please let me know what you think if you have watched this show. Was it enjoyable? Did you like the characters? I’d love to know what you all think.
Thank you and have an awesome day of searching! 🙂
Good night Grace! I hope you feel better. 🙂 ❤