By Emma Simonoff
The early 2000s was the golden age of guest stars in procedural dramas. With a new case every episode, the procedural drama is the perfect format for a steady stream of guest stars.
In the 2000s, shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” continuously cast well-known actors as patients, doctors, victims and murderers. From Robin Williams playing a psychopath on “SVU” to Kyle Chandler playing a bomb-squad guy on “Grey’s,” the beginning of each episode was a guessing game of who would be next.
Now, we’ve lost some of that excitement. While “SVU” and “Grey’s” — and many more — are still going strong, their guest star game has weakened.
Maybe it’s because there are too many procedurals to keep track of, or maybe none of them have that magic of the early 2000s. But whatever it is, established actors just aren’t as willing to guest for a one- or two-episode arc like they used to.
I miss it and I’m always jonesing for a show with a good guest star roster.
“Stumptown” was a new detective procedural following Cobie Smulders as Dex Parios, a veteran-turned private investigator. But sadly, “Stumptown” became one of the casualties of the pandemic after its renewal was reversed in September.
Mid-quarantine, “Stumptown” was exactly what I wanted in a show: compelling mysteries, dry quips, punny episode titles and the kind of guest stars that keep you coming back for more.
You might know Garofalo from her years on “Saturday Night Live” or as the camp director in “Wet Hot American Summer” or maybe even in her extremely underrated romantic comedy “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.” When I saw her meet Dex as a fellow PI interviewing her for her license, I got that shot of endorphins I want from a guest star. And, as usual, she rocked it.
Most known for “Girls,” and also for being David Mamet’s daughter, Zosia Mamet is a perfect candidate for a guest star. She’s well-known, but not so famous that all you can think about is the fact that this extremely famous person is on this show. And, she’s so good. If I were ever going to rewatch “Girls,” it would just be for Mamet’s scenes. In “Stumptown,” she plays a con-woman which is fun especially considering the man she’s conning is…
My favorite Duplass brother. No offense to Mark — I really like him, too — I just have a sweet spot for Jay on “Transparent.” Duplass plays a rich guy who wants to get back in touch with a girl he met and fell in love with at a bar. He does the whole innocent-sweet-guy thing really well and I was happy to see him.
You might not know this guy by name, but trust me, you know him. Logue has quite a range, from being in one of my favorite family sitcoms “Grounded for Life” to the show-that-dads-watch “Gotham.” He can go from being really funny to really scary and back again in about two seconds.
Not only is he fun to watch in “Stumptown,” he plays a PI who gives Dex an apprenticeship, which feels so right because he played a PI in the show “Terriers,” another detective show canceled after just one season.
These are just a few of the guest stars on season one of “Stumptown.” And I’m sure if it had a second season, the guest stars only would’ve gotten better.