Stumptown is ABC’s highly anticipated new show starring Cobie Smulders as Dex Parios, an unorthodox private investigator in Portland, Oregon. Dex has a chip on her shoulder and deep roots in the community. Unlike many TV and film private detectives, she’s not afraid to show a little vulnerability, though she’s also suffering from PTSD due to her 5 tours in Afghanistan. She’s new at the PI game, so she leans on her military experience, local contacts and well-honed instincts while she’s learning the tricks of the trade.
The show is created by Jason Richman, based on the the graphic novel series of the same name by Greg Rucka, with art by Matthew Southworth and Justin Greenwood. Stumptown also stars Jake Johnson as Dex’s best friend, Grey, who owns the bar Bad Alibi; Cole Sibus as the younger brother with Down Syndrome who lives with her, Ansel Parios; Tantoo Cardinal as Sue Lynn Blackbird, who runs the Native American casino where Dex frequently gambles and runs up a debt; Michael Ealy as police Detective Miles Hoffman, who encourages Dex to become a PI and is a potential love interest; Camryn Manheim as police Lieutenant Cosgrove, Hoffman’s boss; and Adrian Martinez as Tookie, a food truck operator and one of Dex’s sources of unofficial information.
The episode begins at the end, with a couple of thugs driving Dex’s car while taste testing coffee. This is Portland, after all. Dex is locked in the trunk. She gets the upper hand by spraying the thugs with a fire extinguisher, then climbing into the front to fight both of them while the car is still moving. Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline plays over it all.
I haven’t figured out yet whether Dex is a little bit psychic and she’s unconsciously controlling the car’s malfunctioning stereo, or if the car is a little bit sentient, so it’s consciously choosing the perfect song for each moment. Whichever one it is, they did great at matching 20th century pop songs to particular moments in the episode.