DAVID BIANCULLI

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Cobie Smulders Makes Traveling to 'Stumptown' Worth the Trip
September 25, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 


Stumptown 
might just help get us past the tragic demise of Jessica Jones

Stumptown, which premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, follows a female private investigator as she tries to find a way to deal with herself and her train wreck of a life. 

Jessica Jones had that niche nailed until she was caught up in a Marvel purge. 

It becomes wonderful news, then, that with Stumptown, Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders, top) steps into the same pair of sensible shoes. 

Dex, the focal character in Stumptown and the best reason to watch it, came out of the Marines with a severe case of PTSD. The traumatic aftereffects of Middle Eastern wars have provided a handy backstory for an army of TV characters in recent years, but even in that group, Dex has a particularly acute case. 

She’s also in full-dress denial, which makes her behavior even more interesting. 

Like Jessica, Dex was born in a comic book – oops, beg pardon, a graphic novel. Unlike some other graphic novel characters who have migrated to television – the cast of Preacher comes to mind – Dex hasn’t ceased to be cool fun.

Her wit, her smarts, and her stumbles translate easily, it turns out, to the small screen. Smulders, who is probably still best known from How I Met Your Mother, slides into this quite-different role with ease. 

Our first encounter with Dex tells us she’s a compulsive gambler – and not a very good one. She also bets money she doesn’t have, which a psychologist would probably tell us reflects an indifference to consequence. 

Her semi-frequent flashbacks to her Marine tour offer a clue to why she might look on life as random and potentially short. 

She does not have the luxury, however, of simply giving in to self-destruction. She lives with and cares for a younger brother, Ansel (Cole Sibus), who has a mild case of Down Syndrome. 

She has one particular loyal and supportive friend, Grey McConnell (Jake Johnson), who runs a local bar where Dex often drinks and Ansel has a job. Grey doesn’t seem to be a romantic interest, which works out okay because Dex seems to prefer her romantic encounters short and spontaneous. (Somewhere Jessica Jones is smiling.)

She also has an ongoing edgy relationship with Sue Lynn Blackbird (Tantoo Cardinal), matriarch of a local Native American tribe. Seems Dex for a time was engaged to Sue Lynn’s son before he enlisted in the military and was killed. 

Dex’s battle to become solvent and marginally sane plays out behind a series of weekly cases involving bad guys and action sequences in which Dex often gets slapped around like a rag doll before her inner Marine resurfaces. 

When you think of Type T personalities – thrill-seekers – Dex might be T squared. She’s a lively, fast-moving character on a show that’s starting out, at least, the same way. 

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Jeff kisseloff
The first episode left me nostalgic for Portland, where i lived for eight years. The first scene, showing hipster crooks in a getaway car, discussing the origins of their coffee, was completely ridiculous unless you lived in PDX. My reaction was, “hmm, maybe”
Sep 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
 
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