Productions on Netflix, Amazon, Disney and other outposts of the crowded streaming world receive the bulk of awards and critical acclaim.
Echoing the sector's label, streaming channels are now the mainstream, and traditional TV networks the wilderness, outside of sports and reality TV.
But I offer praise for a new show on an old-fashioned TV network: ABC's "Stumptown." Like "The Sopranos" and "Breaking Bad," "Stumptown" appeals with off-beat characters, a mix of comedy and drama, and lurid sex and violence.
Starring Cobie Smulders as the conflicted detective Dex Parios, the show based in Portland, Ore., recalls HBO and AMC hits with its noirish atmosphere. "Stumptown's" flawed characters are likable and compelling.
Adapted by show runner Jason Richman from a comic book series created by Greg Rucka, Matthew Southworth and Justin Greenwood, "Stumptown" shows a raw, gritty Portland reminiscent of Seattle in AMC's series "The Killing." Rather than the laid-back city satirized by "Portlandia," "Stumptown" presents a town of dark criminality and corruption.
The show's depiction of insular neighborhoods includes an Indian community that runs a casino and upholds its tribal independence. Dex's long connection with the Indian community drives the show's central conflict.
A former Marine suffering from PSTD, Dex is an alcoholic bisexual who swings from self-destructiveness to professional commitment. She drives a beat-up car and uses a broken cellphone. Her intuition, diligent detective work and fighting skill overcome her refusal to follow professional norms.
With her crooked grin, comic skill and unconventional beauty, Smulders raises Dex's appeal. Smulders' physical grace and insouciant air give the character a calmness in tense situations that contrasts with her personal confusions. Dex's mix of professional confidence and vulnerability draws sympathy.
Dex's often exasperated circle of friends and lovers includes Jake Johnson as the ex-con Grey McConnell, owner of the Bad Alibi Bar, and Michael Ealy as the tormented Portland police detective Miles Hoffman. Cole Sibus gives an endearing performance as Ansel Parios, Dex's brother, who strives to overcome Down's Syndrome.
"Stumptown" proves that quality TV lives outside the streaming world.