The last time the “Stumptown” vision undertook this reviewer was the pilot after which I did an interview with the two leads played by Colbie Smulders & Jake Johnson. Through the trajectory of the season, the pace seems like it has been fairly consistent but the season finale “All
Hands On Dex” seems to filter in the idea of a little bit more melodrama than would have been expected. The music, which made the first episode of the series so textured, is still there with correct context. The humor itself though seems a little more sparse as if it is just moving the
needle to keep up. Dex, played by Smulders, is trying to uncover a murderer which has been dogging her from earlier in the season. But the character truly seems to have its wings when she is not overly pushing with episodic plot elements.
Granted this is the season finale so it needs to wrap certain elements up. However “Stumptown”, even the one I read in the graphic novel, had more of a “Rockford Files” element to it. The structure of the series always reflects back to family which in certain more bare moments, Dex seems to forget. This is part of the beauty of the character but it has to be balanced in check. Certain scenes bring it back into focus including one set in a church with the perfect music accompaniment. But the more textured one is in the opening scene which reflects more in the subconscious of Dex than anything else. The tenure of the series is based more in reveals but looking at the beginning and the end, it is simply good if the character simply is. Her own life and not her extended drama is enough to make the show effective.
By Tim Wassberg
The essence of a heroine is reflected in the ideal of her goals or pursuits. “Stumptown – Vol. 1” [Greg Rocha/Oni/156pgs] knows what it is and embraces it. Dex is the vision of anti-hero with a chip on her shoulder but a thirst for a good time. She needs money. She is down on her luck. She likes to drink. But she hits it with a sense of humor. ABC created the series adaptation that is premiering this fall. The pilot seen perfectly captures the feeling of the graphic novel and while the characters are reflective, liberties are taken in terms of moving the storylines. At least in the initial push the art captures a dingy feeling which is dictated to be Portland but could be Anytown USA. The major difference is in the music mix tape highlighted in the series which adds an undeniable tinge of the Greek chorus either underplaying the humor or overplaying the irony. While the investigations unit with Dex besets is already established, the texture of her relationship with Grey seems to be still developing. The essence of violence seems to be a constant in Dex’s life though she seems to take it in stride but her world weariness is apparent. She wants to be loved but she doesn’t want to put too much work into it. The politics, which seem so apparent at times in the pilot in terms of the Indian Reservation law, are subdued here although the capture of the matriarch of the casino and her nonchalance is adequately relayed. “Stumptown” plays into that noir concept of a character that seems to be stuck in her life but accepts it as existences. Like the gumshoes of the 40s, the world and its intentions forever focus what the characters choices will be. Dex makes the most of it and the least of it in the same throw.
By Tim Wassberg