New TV Review

Stumptown

Image: ABC

Call it “Less Glamorous Magnum PI.”

That sounds meaner than this show deserves but I’ve done that bit twice and a trend is a trend. Also, like Magnum, our central character is a rookie private investigator who’s a combat veteran that gets by with a little help from their friends. Not as much help as remake-Magnum, who is constantly mooching off everyone in his orbit, but you know… some. You know what we should do this after the subheader.

What’s it about? Better. Okay. Like I was saying. Dex Parios was a tracker for the marines in Afghanistan, but after six tours has returned home to Portland, aka “Stumptown.” After being tasked by local casino owner and possible organized crime figure Sue Lynn Blackbird to find her granddaughter, a case filled with twists and betrayals and a few attempted murders, Dex decides to become a PI, with encouragement from a police detective she knows and discouragement from his disapproving lieutenant. Oh, also said granddaughter’s father was the love of Dex’s life, who Sue Lynn forbade to marry Dex, only for him to have second thoughts and go to Afghanistan to find Dex, where he was promptly killed. So… Dex and Sue Lynn ain’t got the happiest relationship, exacerbated by Dex’s gambling problem and subsequent debt to Sue’s casino.

Also she drinks a lot at the bar owned by her best friend Grey, who employs her developmentally challenged brother Ansel.

She’s a PI, she drinks a lot and doesn’t like people (except Grey, Ansel, and on occasion Detective Hoffman), and her best pal has some problems with a local crime lord. So… yeah. It’s a grittier and better Magnum PI with a more interesting lead, fewer glamour shots of its location, and less “Man, veterans sure are great” posturing every other episode*. I dig that.

*Tales From Parts Unknown and its subsidiaries wish at this time to express their support and appreciation for veterans, despite the author’s distaste for overt proselytizing.

What works? Man what a cast they have. Cobie Smulders is doing perhaps her best work as Dex. Dex is tough but not unstoppable, damaged but not breakable, and strikes a good balance between wanting to help the little guy and having just a general distaste for people. She’s a fun screw-up to spend an hour with. And while she could just carry this whole show, she doesn’t even have to. The supporting cast are also fun, especially Grey and her sometimes-henchman Tookie. Dex and Grey’s friendship (explored through flashbacks in episode… two or three) is great. I’m having fun with this one so far.

Also Gotham’s Donal Logue stopped by for two episodes as an established PI Dex tries to apprentice with, and man that role was right in his wheelhouse.

What doesn’t? Um… well… hm. I could do without the hints of will-they-won’t-they between Dex and Detective Hoffman. Or rather will-they-won’t-they again.

Who do you know in the cast?

  • I mentioned Cobie Smulders, yes? Yes.
  • Jake Johnson from New Girl, Tag, Into the Spider-Verse and a bunch of other stuff is Grey, owner and operator of the bar The Bad Alibi. Which makes for at least one good one-liner.
  • Camryn Manheim, who was known for The Firm before I came to know her from Person of Interest, is the police lieutenant learning to tolerate Dex.

And that’s a wrap on that. Hopefully school doesn’t keep me too busy to–

Wait, you’re not going to say anything about Batwoman?

Huh? Oh. Right. Yeah, it’s fine. Good, even. I like it. Rachel Skarsten is killing it as Alice, Batwoman’s nemesis with a secret link to Batwoman herself. (And they get to that reveal fast. Good for them.)

Kind of wondering when they’re going to get to the two-year time-jump it’ll take to catch up with the rest of the Arrowverse, though.

Also Watchmen is better than it deserves to be but two episodes in there isn’t much I can tell you.

So… bye?

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