I love private investigator stories, pretty much in any form. Give me a PI, lawyer, military investigator, mentalist, profiler, detective, mystery writer, psychic, whatever you want, if they’re investigating crime, I’m willing to give it a go. So ABC has a new PI show called Stumptown, takes place in Portland, and focuses on an ex military intelligence type who might be able to help people who don’t want to go to the police. It’s well-trod ground, all the way from the Busted Flush to the A-Team. If you have a problem. If nobody else can help. And if you can find her, maybe you can hire…Cobie Smulders?
Yeah, that was my reaction too. I liked Smulders on How I Met Your Mother. And I mostly hate her whenever she’s in the Marvel universe. Nor did I consider it a positive when she showed up on Andromeda. So…PI show on the one hand, Smulders on the other. Sigh. Let’s give it a go. Maybe I’ll be surprised.
And I was. She didn’t suck. Hardly high praise, but she was watchable. She plays it relatively straight, no fake comedic bits, albeit a bit cynically wry at times. Sure, she’s got PTSD of some sort, and her ability to fake that or pull off a sex scene isn’t great. But the PI side? Decent enough to watch.
But every PI needs a cop foil, and hers are two-fold — first up is Michael Ealy as the good cop and love interest / sex partner. I enjoyed him in Almost Human, skipped Common Law, and liked him in Flashforward. Here he is good, although his character is a bit uneven for Ep1. His boss, Camryn Manheim, basically scowls at people the whole time, which she has done lots of times before. Way back at the start of The Practice, she was decent, but I lost interest in the series and she was part of the reason. Not a plus for me, but she has a limited role here and it’s fine.
The rest of the cast is okay. Her friend Grey seems too good to be true — best friend? Something more? Curious if they’ll later reveal he’s either gay or has had a crush on her for years. Played by Jake Johnson, a little too earnest at times. Her brother Ansel is played by Cole Sibus, and is a maturing influence on Smulders character as she has to take care of him (unexplained condition, likely Down Syndrome or equivalent, and I like that they don’t explain it). And some people from the local reserve, Tantoo Cardinal (as the casino owner) and Gregory Zaragoza (as her right hand). Cardinal is decent, although mostly she just has to seem old and wise, with a bit of disdain for others.
Overall, I liked the show. Because of Smulders, I originally predicted cancellation. Unfortunately for me, I’ll be watching anyway but I think cancellation was the right call. I just don’t see enough meat in the show to get to renewal.