Stumptown

3 out of 5

Created by: Jason Richman

Covers season 1

Dexadrine Parios lives in Portland, drinks quite often at her friend Grey’s bar, and likes to solve underdog cases with her newly acquired P.I. license.  That’s your show!  Now, go!

And miraculously, that is a show, and a genuinely entertaining one, taking its rather low-key approach from its comic book source material and adding in some more fleshed out TV side character plotlines.  Often, when it comes to of-the-week type shows – this one being a mystery-of-the-week – I’m critical of such extra plottings; just stick to the script, I grumble.  But in this instance, whereas the comic ended up lacking a lot of character personality beyond a general ruff-and-tumble makeover for Dex, Stumptown the show – thanks to lead Cobie Smulders, and excellent supporting work from Jake Johnson’s Grey, Michael Ealy’s reluctantly informing copper, and Cole Sibus as Dex’s younger brother, Ansel – the series finds the right balance in quirky cases and worthwhile conversations that makes either side of the show fun to watch.  Dex maintains her destructive nature, always ready to offer a pretty funny one-liner instead of expressing a legit emotion, but unlike other shows which would have her indulging in dramatics with boys and girls every now and then, only to dramatically be all destructive-nature about it, Stumptown keeps her on guard at all times, her personality slowly warming up as the episodes go along.

The cases, by design, generally aren’t of the life and death variety, and that might not help to lure in viewers, but there’s something charming about that all the same, and the show engenders interest by populating its tales with pretty colorful characters and scenarios, some lightly skimmed from the book.  If there is one thing the comic holds over the show, though, it’s a sense of place: Stumptown the comic is undeniably Portland, whereas Stumptown the show is just… not New York.  Combined with its general humdrum vibe, that does, admittedly, make it a rather ephemeral experience.  But while you’re in it, that same easy-going nature and fun cast earn it a spot as a show you actually tend to watch instead of putting it on as background.