We’ve only got one episode upon which to base an opinion, but so far, Stumptown is my favorite new series of the fall (narrowly edging out Prodigal Son over on Fox). It’s a private dick series, and it hews closely to all the PI tropes: Dissafected, drunk, gambling-addicted, sex-hungry and nihilistic private eye reluctantly solving crimes with violence and other unconventional means. The difference here is that our kick-ass Bogart is a woman, and a fantastic one at that, in Cobie Smulders.
Smulders plays Dex, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD in the midst of a downward spiral. Basically, all she has to live for is her brother (Cole Sibius), who has Down Syndrome, and her best friend, Grey (Jake Johnson), a bar owner who keeps Dex supplied with free beer (Johnson is little used in the pilot, but I suspect he’ll figure in more prominently in future episodes). In the opening episode, a casino owner to whom Dex is in debt hires her to find her missing granddaughter, which leads Dex to uncover a ransom conspiracy. Along the way, she also rubs shoulders with disapproving local law enforcement, in particular, Lieutenant Cosgrove (Camryn Manheim) and Detective Miles Hoffman, played by the sexiest goddamn man on television right now, Michael Ealy, whose sleepy eyes regularly kick the shit out of my Kinsey scale. “You thought you were a straight man, did you? Think again, motherf*cker.”
In the midst of the investigation, Dex takes a break to bed Hoffman, because that’s what seedy, drunken private dicks do. It’s also what middle-aged white dudes who review network television shows and write about politics might do, as well. Hoffman, meanwhile, appreciates Dex’s unconventional methods, and by the episode’s end — after Dex solves the ransom conspiracy — Hoffman has offered Dex work in the form of some off-the-books cases that the police cannot be bothered to solve.
There’s a lot to introduce in a pilot, so I will forgive the simple case at the center of the episode. Mostly, however, I love the noir-ish look and feel of Stumptown, set in the parts of Portland, Oregon that aren’t regularly featured in Portlandia (no one put a single bird on anything in the pilot). It’s a very cinematic-looking television show with echoes of Jack Reacher, only Cobie is taller and more convincing as a shit-kicking P.I. than Tom Cruise.
The cast, too, is phenomenal: A wry, smoldering Smulders; a wise-cracking, Sam Malone-esque Jake Johnson; and Michael Ealy, whose character may benefit in future episodes from the lack of a shirt. Shirtless, sleepy-eyed detectives are a thing, right? He is a very handsome man, is all I’m saying, and my knees may or may not quiver a little when he’s onscreen. Did I say a little, because I meant a lot. I am not a person who drools, and yet, here we are. Can someone please bring me a stack of napkins.
Watch Stumptown. It’s pretty damn good. And Michael Ealy is not bad to look at, either.
Header Image Source: ABC