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Jesse Stone: Television Movie Series Review
Jesse Stone movies on DVD
Even though the Jesse Stone movie series was made for television, I was not introduced to this exhilarating series until I accidentally found it on Netflix and rented the first movie (Jesse Stone: Stone Cold). Not really being a Tom Selleck fan, I was uncertain if this movie would be any good. Boy was I surprised and hooked! My husband, who is not an avid movie watcher (his favorite show is Wheel of Fortune), loved all seven Jesse Stone movies and hopes there will be many more. The plots and subplots to the Jesse Stone movies are excellent; well worth the time viewing.
Tom Selleck is excellent as Jesse Stone, formerly with Los Angeles Police Department, who becomes the Chief of Police for Paradise, Massachusetts. The city of Paradise knows Jesse Stone is unconventional and an alcoholic. This is actually a very small town with not many residents; no one beating down the door to apply for their police department, let alone for the position of Chief of Police. Their current police force is very small and none qualify to be in charge.
This is the opening of the first movie (Jesse Stone: Stone Cold , released 2005) which introduces the other primary characters: Policeman Luther "Suitcase" Simpson (Kohl Sudduth), State Commissioner Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie), mobster Gino Fish (William Sadler) who is head of organized crime in Boston and surrounding areas which include Paradise, Dr. Perkins (John Beale) who is the local Pediatrician and Paradise's Medical Examiner who acts as the Coroner, Psychiatrist Dr. Dix (William Devore) who is Jesse's friend plus sees him professionally for his alcoholism and Hastings "Hasty" Hathaway (Saul Rubinek well known as Artie in Warehouse 13), Paradise's shady used car salesman. These are recurring roles, a constant (played by the same actors), throughout the Jesse Stone movies. All, but the Pediatrician-Coroner return in the Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost, but he returns in Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt. Jesse Stone's dog Reggie (played by Joe, a Golden Retriever per Entertainment Tonight and other valid sources) is introduced in the third movie (Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise) and is at Jesse's side in the rest of the movies. The entire primary cast is excellent in their respective roles. It is obvious they had fun playing their parts even though each movie has a crime or two to solve (shooting, kidnapping, murder, domestic abuse, rape, bombing, etc).
The second movie was released in 2006. Jesse Stone: Night Passage continues where the first one ends with a domestic abuse investigation regarding a young teenager. Through this investigation Jesse Stone finds out the sleepy town of Paradise has many secrets and the residents will do whatever it takes to keep the skeletons in the closet. The City Council continues to remind Jesse who his employer is, tries to bully him into dropping certain aspects of the investigation, but Jesse Stone behind the City Council's back continues investigating where no one wants him to look. Jesse finds out some very dark secrets. Jesse Stone: Night Passage's subplot has Jesse's elderly dog very ill and on deaths door. This portrays the close bond between a man and his dog.
Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (released 2006) is the third of the movie series. This begins with a body found on the rocks with Reggie, a gorgeous Golden Retriever, guarding it. Jesse Stone shows compassion by taking Reggie home with him, even though he is still mourning the death of his elderly dog. The murder investigation leads to a very sadistic couple, organized crime and a domestic violence case. This movie shows how a very small quiet town can have a sinister side. Jesse Stone goes out of his way to unconventionally clean up Paradise, Massachusetts in spite of mobster Gino Fish's interference.
The fourth movie, Jesse Stone: Sea Change was released in 2007. This includes a very old rape case, practically a cold case. Jesse Stone once again rubs the City Council of Paradise the wrong way when he goes out of his way to solve this particular case. The City Council wants this incident kept quiet; fears leakage may affect tourism. They do not want the City of Paradise's reputation tarnished. Policewoman Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker, who also plays this role in the later Jesse Stone movies) is hired by the City Council to watch over Jesse, make certain he tows the line and goes strictly by the book. Jesse includes Rose on the investigation of the rape case by having her interrogate all the teenage girls and women who might shed some clues. This teaches Rose how difficult interrogating and solving a case really is.
Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (the fifth Jesse Stone movie; released in 2009) has Jesse Stone literally on thin ice with the City Council who threaten to suspend him from being Police Chief of Paradise, Massachusetts because he is spending too much time in Boston. Rose Gammon decides to take it upon herself to re-open the kidnapped Baby Blue case from ten years ago when the mother visits Paradise Police Department (PPD) and brings a note mailed from Paradise. Jesse, however, is very busy trying everything he can to figure out who shot his friend, State Commissioner Captain Healy and himself when they were on a very unique unofficial stake out that involved Captain Healy's nephew. The only suspect has an "air-tight alibi." Jesse Stone: Thin Ice covers the themes loyalty and friendship well.
The sixth movie, Jesse Stone: No Remorse (first aired on CBS May, 2010) resumes the plot with Jesse back in Paradise; still on suspension. Policeman Luther "Suitcase" Simpson is current acting Chief of Police. Rose Gammon and Suitcase are all that is left of the police force in Paradise, Massachusetts. They both miss Jesse's experience and expertise. The City Council has placed them under strict orders not to discuss any "police business" with Jesse. This forces Rose and Suitcase to be creative as they secretively consult with Jesse about a case involving several liquor stores where the criminal is murderous as he robs for money.
While Rose and Suitcase are busy investigating this crime spree in Paradise, Jesse reluctantly agrees to be hired by his friend State Commissioner Captain Healy (who is still recuperating from being shot, but has returned to his duties) as a "consultant" to help solve a Boston parking lot murder (that becomes a serial killer's pattern). The mobster Gino Fish uncooperatively assists Jesse and reminds him of having an "air-tight alibi". This time, Jesse believes Gino because this murder case leads to Gino Fish's assistant, Alan Garner (Tod Hofley), who like all Bostonian mobsters has an "air-tight alibi". Once again, it is up to Jesse Stone to expertly solve the murder case and creatively crack that "air-tight alibi". Jesse Stone: No Remorse teaches perseverance is the key to solving murder investigations.
The seventh Jesse Stone movie was first aired via CBS on May 22, 2011. Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost picks up where the sixth movie ended. Jesse has taken up jogging and continues to accept "consulting" jobs from his friend State Commissioner Captain Healy. The latest being a murder case in trial with a suspect who Healy believes is innocent and requests Jesse to find out if his suspicions are accurate.
The City Council of Paradise, Massachusetts replaces acting Police Chief Luthor "Suitcase" Simpson. The new Chief of Police (Mark Blum) immediately promotes Rose Gammon and Luthor "Suitcase" Simpson to Deputy making them the first Deputies of Paradise's police force. Deputy Rose Gammon and Deputy Luthor "Suitcase" Simpson readily dislike the new Chief of Police. It is obvious he is in league with the City Council. Rose and Suitcase want Jesse Stone back as their Chief.
While Jesse continues his investigation for State Commissioner Captain Healy, due to being an out-of-touch friend of the victim found by Rose in her car on the road leading to Jesse's house, Jesse covertly investigates this murder case involving Paradise High School graduate, Cindy Van Alden (Eileen Boylen). The new Chief of Police does not want any bad publicity; wants to shelve this investigation as a suicide. Jesse, Rose and Suitcase find this appallingly unethical.
Both consulting case and murder investigation are solved by Jesse Stone. Suitcase resigns from the Paradise Police Department (PPD). Rose cannot afford to leave the PPD and receives a referral from Jesse for Dr. Dix. Rose needs someone to talk to about her son's alcoholism. Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost teaches about ethics and true friendship plus how important they are.
The world premiere of the eighth movie, Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt was aired via CBS Sunday, May 20, 2012. This one began with an unusual twist with two policemen (one being the new Police Chief of Paradise, Massachusetts and the policeman Jesse Stone had fired from the PPD - both were return actors reprised in their earlier roles they had in the Jesse Stone movie series) getting literally blown up in their police car while responding to a faked emergency call. This movie's plot is about giving these two policemen who were set up to look dirty plus blown up from an under the car bomb a "benefit of the doubt."
Jesse Stone is reinstated as the Police Chief because the heads of Paradise's City Council know Jesse has excellent investigative skills and is a good cop. They want this done correctly, expediently and by the book. It is not good for the city's image to have two of their policemen murdered. The City Council has faith Jesse will find out the truth.
Jesse Stone decides to grow the PPD since he is the only one in it. He knows the importance of having a well staffed police force. Jesse finds out where Rose Gammon is and telephones. He had lost touch, regrets this immensely. She was not easy to locate. Rose is now living out of the area. She is going through a lot of personal stuff and does not know if she will ever return to Paradise. Jesse finds Luthor "Suitcase" Simpson still living in Paradise. He is a commercial fisherman with his father. Suitcase turns Jesse down; claiming being a fisherman was always in his blood due to generations of commercial fishermen in his family. This leaves Jesse with no one accepting his offer to return to the PPD that he trusts and knows. Rose and Suitcase kindly had given their best wishes to Jesse as well as warm congratulations for his being reinstated as Chief. Jesse realizes he should have stayed in touch with Rose and Suitcase; treated them better.
Jesse decides he does not have time to hire any policemen. He is stuck with doing what he can to enforce the law in Paradise all by himself. Jesse tables hiring anyone until after he determines what happened and finds out why these two policemen were bombed. This decision has Jesse, due to jurisdiction issues, working with his friend State Commissioner Captain Healy, who is very determined to keep everything by the book.
This particular investigation has quite a few unexpected twists and snags. Jesse catches Arthur Gallery (Robert Carradine, renowned for being Lewis "Lew" Skolnick in The Revenge of the Nerds movie series), an obvious hired assassin, tailing him. This turns out to be an important clue. Jesse realizes this almost too late.
The subplot of this movie involves Jesse forced to set aside his personal life for the good of the case. He is also forced to do his best to ignore Hastings "Hasty" Hathaway's interest in Thelma Gleffey (Gloria Reuben), the gal Jesse is secretly seeing. This film addresses the pitfalls of not taking care of one's personal life and friends. It further brings up the negatives behind having a secret romance.
Jesse visits Gino Fish, Hasty and others throughout his investigation to ensure justice prevails. He follows quite a few hunches since some of the evidence seems to be planted by the car bomber (if believing the two cops were clean). The ending reminded me of the first Jesse Stone movie's. There was, however, a slight deviation that was surprising. The ending was well worth watching Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt in its entirety.
Even though the plot was left wide open for a ninth Jesse Stone film to be made, Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt was well scripted. It was wonderful the main characters were played by the same actors from the preceding seven movies; fantastic to notice uniformity in a TV movie series. This movie also allowed the viewer to learn more about the intricate character Hastings "Hasty" Hathaway. This character actually is an intriguing complicated character with substance and depth, more than I believed from viewing the earlier Jesse Stone movies. Finding out where Hasty really was situated in the organized crime ring was an eye opener. As a secondary subplot, it was further revealed why Hasty is "so very fond of Jesse."
The lengths of each Jesse Stone movie vary slightly, averages to about 1 hour 30 minutes each. Jesse Stone: No Remorse is the longest with a length of 1 hour and 58 minutes. Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost and Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt were second longest with a run time of 1 hour 50 minutes. All eight movies in the Jesse Stone movie series are available on DVD.
I highly recommend this exceptional entertaining made for TV movie series. This is definitely Tom Selleck's best work as an actor, the perfect role for him. You do not want to miss these if a Tom Selleck fan or a lover of murder mysteries. Enjoy!
Great news about Jesse Stone movie series
October 2012, the Jesse Stone series was not scheduled for further installments. At that time CBS decided to purchase the shorter duration television series instead of movie series and specials. CBS did not purchase any more Jesse Stone installments, so Hallmark picked up the rights to the ninth movie in the Jesse Stone series and released their intentions March 2015.
Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise, the next after Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt, was released October 2015 on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel. They aired it several times as a new release which was great for Jesse Stone fans. I do not know if this channel will continue to air it more, but it is very possible considering many who like Tom Selleck missed this movie's first release due to lack of publicity on other non-Hallmark channels.
Spoiler alert: not all of the original cast is in this movie, but I am looking forward to seeing Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise because it was Directed by Robert Harmon and written by Michael Brandman and Tom Selleck. As soon as I view this latest addition, I will add a write up above.
Noteworthy fact: The entire Jesse Stone movie series is based on the detective book series known as "The Jesse Stone novels." The first nine books of "The Jesse Stone novels" were written by Robert B. Parker. The tenth and eleventh book in this book series was written by Michael Brandman due to the deceasement of Robert B. Parker January 2010.