Stumptown, debuting at 10 p.m. Sept. 25 on ABC, has the kind of crime fiction pedigree that has been missing from TV for several years.
First, the lead character Dex Parios, played by Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Avengers), will find her calling as a private detective, a job that will allow her to channel her propensity for action and justice.
Second, and perhaps most important, Stumptown is adapted from Greg Rucka’s graphic novels, Stumptown. Mystery readers also may recognize Rucka’s name from his series of well received mystery novels.
Beginning with Keeper in 1997, Rucka wrote seven novels about professional bodyguard Atticus Kodiak, published by Bantam. I was a big fan of this series, which went on hiatus following Walking Dead (2010) as Rucker began to concentrate on his graphic novels and other works.
In my Sun Sentinel review of Smoker (1999), I wrote “. . . Greg Rucka easily melds the thriller and mystery genres in a cohesive, complex plot that turns on its own unpredictability. Surveillance scenes, usually a plot-stopper, have a real sense of urgency.
“Smoker seals Rucka's status as a rising star whose books crackle with energy while examining current issues…
“Rucka's characters have depth. In Atticus Kodiak, Rucka designs a true modern hero whose vulnerability and toughness are interlinked. Self-doubt fuels his personality and makes him more cautious, but does not keep him from taking action when required.”
My reviews also mentioned Rucka’s flair for realistic women characters, which he has also brought to Stumptown and the character of Dex Parios.
Smulders may always be remembered for role in the comedy How I Met Your Mother—after all that sitcom seems to be in reruns as least twice a day, like Law & Order is.
But she shows a different range in Stumptown, which is, oddly, billed as a dramady.
Well, OK, there is humor but the focus in Stumptown seems to be more drama. Those a scene featuring a Neil Diamond song is pretty funny.
Dex is a veteran, adrift after leaving the service about a decade before. A heavy drinker with a heavier gambling debt, Dex can’t keep a job. She also suffers from PSTD, the result of her military tours, and cares for her brother who has Down Syndrome.
A redemption, of sorts, comes with her becoming a private investigator.
She’s not particularly good at it, but she tries.
The setting of Portland, Ore., which is nicknamed Stumptown, should lend itself to good background shots.
Brash and often out of control, Dex is the kind of character more seen on cable shows than a mainstream network.
I am looking forward to that edgy character and, I have high hopes as Rucka’s source material is solid.
Stumptown will air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.
Photos of Cobie Smulders/ABC
By Oline H Cogdill