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The opening and closing moments of Stumptown episode one include an absolute riotous fight sequence involving speeding cars, Cobie Smulders escaping a car boot using a fire extinguisher and Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
Joyous, unpretentious and full of humour, the scene perfectly captures the spirit of the new series about an army veteran turned private investigator.
On paper the series sounds like a traditional US procedural with a smart and talented lead, fighting personal struggles and with an entangled love life.
But Stumptown is in a different universe to bog-standard US crime dramas, packing in more colour, wit and big characters in a single episode than those shows do in an entire 10 season run.
Here are three reasons to pay a visit to Stumptown....
Cobie Smulders steals the show
The How I Met Your Mother actress kicks ass as the sharp-witted Dex Parios, who is recovering from her time in the marines and the loss of her childhood sweetheart in Afghanistan.
Smulders is believable, endearing and charismatic, bringing a complexity to the role that makes Stumptown a little different from your average PI drama.
A big gambler with a busy love life, Dex is a character suffering from an existential crisis who is trying to reconcile her PTSD and find out what she wants from her life.
She’s a atypical, intriguing and engaging lead who you’ll really root for, even when she’s letting her flaws take over her life.
It isn’t heading where you think it is
The first episode drops hints that Dex’s private life might be heading towards a stereotypical love triangle with Detective Hoffman (Michael Ealy) and old friend Grey (Jake Johnson), but the series successfully swerves these clichéd plot holes.
A bisexual, fiercely independent and explosive lead, Dex isn’t defined by male relationships.
Talking about the appeal of playing Dex, Cobie said: “I have the opportunity to show all of my colours, which is really exciting. I get to play a woman who is her own boss; makes her own decisions; who is allowed to be flawed; who is allowed to own those flaws, and who is not tethered in a relationship, and is undefined, really. That's the exciting thing for me."
The characters of Stumptown
The Stumptown universe doesn’t revolve solely around Dex, and the series brings together a bright collection of characters with an impressive cast of familiar faces,
New Girl’s Jake Johnson pops up as the very lovable Bad Alibi bar owner Grey, one of Dex’s closet friends.
Grey has a bond with Dex’s brother Ansel, played by Cole Sibus, who also works at the Bad Alibi.
The casting of Sibus, who has Down’s syndrome, is refreshingly done. Down’s syndrome isn’t the focus of the character and he isn’t introduced in a cloying or patronising manner. His dynamic with Johnson is full of heart and personality and his disability is irrelevant to his relationship with his sister.
Tantoo Cardinal plays a casino boss and the mother of Dex’s late boyfriend and Michael Ealy plays Detective Miles Hoffman, who quickly establishes a ‘connection’ and working relationship with Dex.
Meanwhile, Adrian Martinez plays Tookie, a food truck owner and informant for Dex.
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