Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (2011)

Yup, back to Paradise Massachusetts (still lovely Nova Scotia) again. Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is back for more in the 7th telefilm based on the book series.

This installment picks up three weeks after No Remorse.

The town council has granted Stone early retirement, and because of the way they handled the convenience store robberies Suitcase (Kohl Sudduth) and Rose (Kathy Baker) are allowed to stay on as the town’s police force. Suit is forced to step down as temporary chief however when the council puts in someone they can control a little better, William Butler (Jeff Geddis) a son-in-law of one of the council members.

Neither Rose nor Suit care for him though.

Jesse is stunned to learn that one of the young women, Cindy (Eileen Boylan) he looked out for during her parents divorce, is found dead, with the town council eager to rule it a drug-induced suicide.

Jesse, despite no longer being a cop, doesn’t accept that, and begins his own investigation, chatting, once again, with crime boss Gino Fish (William Sadler) and Sister Mary John (Kerri Smith).

He’s also asked by Captain Healy (Cepthen McHattie) to help out on a murder case that seems a little too neat.

Jesse, in true manipulative fashion gets a badge from Healy, and uses it to run down his own investigation into Cindy’s death.

Through it all, Jesse seeks the advice of Doctor Dix (William Devane), briefly chats with Jenn (voiced by Gillian Anderson), romances Hasty Hathaway’s (Saul Rubinek) lovely receptionist Thelma (Gloria Reuben) and tries to connect with Reggie while watching old movies.

It was the old movie bit that I really liked, and I know the film’s writers, Michael Brandman and Tom Selleck, knew what they were doing with one of the films…

Jesse and Reggie are watching Bridge On The River Kwai. As soon as I saw it, I had a huge grin on my face… In Magnum, P.I., Higgins (John Hillerman) built a matchstick model of the bridge, which was consequently destroyed and rebuilt). I thought it was a wonderful call back for fans.

I love the continuity created by the series, though this one is a little darker for Stone’s character…

He still can’t connect with Reggie, he’s unemployed, having been forced to retire, and he’s holding himself responsible for Cindy’s death. All those things add up to heavy drinking for poor Jesse.

I love the fact that the character is incredibly flawed, and though he is aware of his flaws, he also can’t or won’t fix them.

Selleck continues to excel in this role, and after Magnum, this may be my favorite character he’s played, though I’ve yet to watch Blue Bloods.

What do you think?

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Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010)

It’s time to head back to Paradise Massachusetts (read as Nova Scotia) again.

Picking up shortly after the last film ended, Robert B Parker’s creation Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is still on the outs with the town council, and suspended from his position as Chief.

In fact, the force is down to two members for the whole county, Suitcase Simpson (Kohl Sudduth) and Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker).

And they are in over their head.

In the interim, Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) of the State Troopers approaches Jesse about serving as a temporary consultant in helping solve a murder, that quickly becomes a trio of seemingly unrelated killings.

In Paradise, Hasty Hathway (Saul Rubinek), now out of prison reveals that the council is going to clean house in terms of the police department, firing everyone, especially if they can’t resolve a series of convenience store robberies that has seen the clerks being beaten, and left with life-threatening injuries.

First off, I like very much that they are trying to resolve such a run-of-the-mill crime as that, though Jesse does give them a little aid.

And the investigation of the triple murders, leads Jesse to chat once again with crime boss Gino Fish (William Sadler) who had ‘employed’ the first victim.

The film ends with the department’s future, as well as Stone’s much needed job hanging in the balance. It also sees him trying to more personally connect to Reggie the dog, after being encouraged to do by his psychiatrist, Doctor Dix (William Devane).And possibly the last appearance of Jenn’s voice on his phone? In a rough moment, Jesse tears the phone out of the wall, which causes him to finally replace it with a cell phone, to which he selectively hands out the number.

Michael Brandman and Selleck return as the writers of this installment. This time, like the previous installment, they don’t use a Jesse Stone novel as a leaping off point. In spite of that, both of them are so familiar with the characters, the environment created for the film series, and the faces and dialogue that I get wrapped right up in it.

I love the sense of continuity the series has established by making sure that all the same actors come back time and time again, Emily Bishop (Mae Whitman) last seen in Death In Paradise comes back, as well as Hasty, the town council, the exception being the recasting of Cissy Hathaway previously played by Stephanie March in Night Passage, this time out she is portrayed by Krista Allen. We also get to see more of Sister Mary John (Kerri Smith), one of the most attractive nuns I have ever seen! Obviously Jesse feels the same, cause they finally go out for dinner.

All in all though the familiar faces, locations (I really do love the house they use for exteriors for Stone’s house) and stories, continue to make this an entertaining and engaging series of mystery films.

Sadly, even though Selleck has said he’s not done with the character yet, there are only two left in the film series.

Then what?!?!?

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)

It is time to head back to Paradise, Massachusetts.

This time around, Robert B. Parker’s creation of Police Chief Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is involved in an investigation that is not based on the series of Jesse Stone novels.

That is something that sounds like it’s putting the series on Thin Ice as they stray away from the source material.

In the end, however, it seems that the writers, Michael Brandman, Ronni Kern and Tom Selleck himself have a handle on the television universe of Stone as well as the character itself, seeing as they’ve all been involved in the series in one form or another since it’s debut.

This time around, the show starts with a bang, well several of them, as Stone and State Trooper Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) are shot several times while on an unofficial stakeout.

Jesse is only wounded, but Healy is severely injured and hospitalized. However, Stone is raked over the coals by a town council who is already upset with Stone’s performance not meeting their expectations, nor submitting to their control.

Jesse, to his peril, ignores the council, yet again, and starts running down leads and suspects in Healy’s shooting, consulting local crime boss Gino Fish (Willilam Sadler), who points him in the right direction.

The B-story follows a woman, Elizabeth Blue (Camryn Manheim), who has come from New Mexico, clutching a letter, indicating that her son, stolen from her at birth, may be living in Paradise.

Rose (Kathy Baker) takes the case to heart and with Jesse’s aid starts running down leads of her own.

Meanwhile, Suitcase (Kohl Sudduth) aids Jesse in his for the shooter, though obviously still recovering from the head wound he sustained a couple of films ago (he occasionally calls Jesse, Lou, the name of the previous chief).

Jenn (voiced by Gillian Anderson) continues to haunt his phone, leaving messages and keeping him company as he drinks, that demon still haunts him, all while Reggie the dog looks on.

Stone again enlists the help of his psychiatrist Doctor Dix (William Devane) and becomes romantically involved with an internal affairs Sidney Greenstreet (Leslie Hope) and the dialogue between the two recall Jesse’s relationship with the late Abby Taylor (Polly Shannon). She also warns him that the council is going after him.

Jesse tracks down the shooter Teddy Leaf (Fulvio Cecere) and in true Stone manner, sets him up, manipulating events to make sure the man takes the fall he deserves… a third strike.

The series continues to be well-written, engaging, and Nova Scotia continues to stand in wonderfully for Massachusetts, and it’s nice to see places I recognize.

The story-telling, building on the previous films, interweaves new material with characters we’ve come to know and care for and I quite enjoy this universe.

In the interim I have read the first Jesse Stone book, Night Passage, and while I enjoyed it immensely, I can also see why the changes that were made for television were done. What works in the book I don’t think would’ve worked as well on the screen, and the film series seems to build on the spirit of the characters and the books, while making the television universe its own.

I will say this, it’s tough to see anyone else but Selleck as Stone, so my brain automatically paints him into the novel when I read it.

In the end, the ice, I fear proves too thin for Jesse, and the council, for the time being, gets there way… setting things up for the next film, No Remorse.

I quite enjoy these films, and I’m a little saddened that there only 3 for me to get through right now. Course, I still have the rest of the books to get through as well…

Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)

Back to Paradise I go, to visit with Tom Selleck as Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone in another mystery.

This time, Jesse, under the advice of Dr. Dix (William Devane), Jesse tries to find something that will keep him busy, to be important to him, to stave off his alcoholism.

He has Rose (Kathy Baker), the dispatcher from before Molly (Viola Davis), who is off-duty for her pregnancy, dig up a cold-case homicide for him to focus on.

Paradise has three, and Stone decides to take on the most recent one, 1992, fifteen years previous.

In the interim, Suit (Kohl Sudduth) wakes from his coma, caused by the bullet wound in the previous installment, and though shaky, returns to duty, mistakenly calling Jesse Lou a number of times.

Office politics are starting to raise their ugly heads as Anthony DeAngelo (Vito Rezza) is starting to try Jesse’s patience. DeAngelo is under the impression that he should have been offered the position of chief instead of importing someone he sees as a drunk. He spends most of his time now, reporting on him to the town council.

Stone brings Rose into play on the other case that shows up in this film, a young woman Cathleen (Mika Boorem), and her father, accusing a tourist Harrison Pendelton (Nigel Bennett), who’s in Paradise for the regatta, of rape.

As Jesse digs into the case, he finds that old ghosts from previous cases are coming up. It seems a few people knew Hasty Hathaway (Saul Rubinek) was laundering money through his bank for Gino Fish (William Sadler) and robbed it of $2 million dollars, but a bank teller, taken hostage, was killed, and this is the homicide Jesse is trying to solve.

Fish sends in one of his guys, Terry (I prefer Terrence) Genest (James Rogers), the brother of Joe Genest (Stephen Baldwin) who was killed in Night Passage. He and Stone have a series of altercations, that you know can only end in one of them dead. Wonder who?

Tracking down the family of the murdered teller, Stone comes across her sister Leeann (Rebecca Pidgeon), and her ill mother.

The further Jesse gets into the case, the less he likes what he finds, and in the end, when all is resolved, he has to turn to the drink again.

These films continue to engage, and entertain, and I love how they are put together, written, filmed and edited. This one, like the previous, Death In Paradise, didn’t reveal who the baddie is until the last few minutes of the show, but looking back over everything that is said and done, the clues are all there.

And as a side note, I started the first book the other day, Night Passage, and so far I’m liking it, some of the names are different and I like the way Parker writes, but despite the fact that he’s only 30-something in the books, I still see him as Selleck.

Watching Nova Scotia on the screen reminds me that I miss it, and the ocean, though not so much the winters.

I think for now, I will live vicariously through these movies and Haven. (And let me say, I love the location they use for his house, with the little bridge and red house!)

Jesse Stone: Death In Paradise (2006)

Jesse gets himself into a mess, and this time out, the third film, it follows more of a mystery set-up, letting us puzzle over clues and motives to find out who committed the murder.

The always likeable Tom Selleck returns as Police Chief Jesse Stone in Robert B. Parker’s Death In Paradise. Stone is a cop who’s still battling his alcoholism, though this time out, he finally goes to a therapist (William Devane)to start getting help.

The film opens with Stone arriving on a crime scene, Suit (Kohl Sudduth) has found a body in the water, and he chats and coaches both Suit and the local doctor on what to look for and how to maintain the integrity of the crime scene.

I like those moments, as he could come across as a real ass, but no, he coaches them, points out how they did something wrong, tells them how to fix or improve it for next time, and then gives them some positive encouragement to bring them back into focus to the task at hand.

It seems the body they have found has been in the lake for three weeks, and that is making identification tough, even with the help of State Trooper, Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie).

Piecing the clues together, the case leads to a family with a domineering father, an author, and a mobster. There are hints of molestation, incest, and an unborn child.

While Stone puzzles over these problems, he’s also confronted with a domestic dispute issue, that has some horrible repercussions for the small township of Paradise, Massachusetts.

This film, sees Stone taking responsibility for issues in this film, as well as other ones, including the guilt he carries over Abby’s murder.

There are light moments (the bit with the dog without tags near the films open is great), and some stunning ones (the supermarket showdown) and while all of the films so far can be watched as stand alones, it’s fun, knowing the history of the characters, to see familiar faces around town. I think Molly (Viola Davis) is just getting better and better each and every time.

And though I know I’ve already seen the films, I am getting very excited to take a look at the books (they’re waiting on my Kindle even now).

Still, it’s going to be hard not imagining Selleck in the role in my head while reading the books. Making the character 20 odd years older, I feel adds a great deal more to his character, he’s been around the block, he’s seen the damage alcoholism can do, he sees it again in this installment, and yet he still has problems and his demons. Not to mention the fact that he still keeps talking with his ex-wife (never seen on screen but apparently voiced by Gillian Anderson).

The balance between the A and B stories in this film is almost pitch perfect, with the murder case causing discomfort as you start to see the suspects coming to light, and the B story has John Diehl as an alcoholic, abusive husband, who not only has an impact on his family, but in the end on Stone’s life as well.

It’s one more scare of responsibility that he’s going to carry within himself.

And that is one more thing I like him, Stone is a deeply, deeply flawed character, and yet, he’s a good person.

I also like the fact that it’s Tom Selleck in the role, and that he always used to refer to Hawaii as paradise in Magnum, and now lives in a place called Paradise. You could see that while Stone and Magnum may not be the same person, you can tell they’re related, and it’s not quite impossible to see Jesse as an extension of Thomas.

What Jesse Stone mystery is your favorite?

Jesse Stone: Night Passage (2006)

“I’m the police chief, I know everything.”

After discovering the character of Jesse Stone in Stone Cold, portrayed in this series of films by the always awesome Tom Selleck, I knew I would be back for more.

So I settled in for the second installment of these TV movies, Night Passage. This film is a prequel to the previous film Stone Cold (which was originally the 4th novel in Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series).

We join Jesse in Santa Monica, California getting ready to head east to Paradise, Massacheussets to interview for the position of police chief after he was busted by his own captain for being drunk on the job.

Jesse has a drinking problem, he’s well aware of it, but it’s something that plagues him through the series.

He’s driving away from the problems with his estranged wife Jen, who so far has simply been a voice on the other end of the phone, accompanied by his giant hound, Boomer.

Now, Boomer wasn’t in Stone Cold, so as soon as the dog was introduced, I knew, KNEW, that this wouldn’t end well.

Jesse arrives in Paradise, promptly gets drunk and passes out (whiskey on the rocks being his preferred drink) and the next morning, has a little one to balance him out before he goes to meet the town council for a final interview.

Sitting in on the including Hastings Hathaway (Saul Rubinek), a big wig banker about the town, who Jesse learns was essential in the previous police chief Lou Carson (Mike Starr) forced retirment.

After a rough encounter with a belligerent, abusive husband, Joe Genest (Stephen Baldwin), Jesse learns from State Trooper captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) that Lou was murdered.

Jesse already has his prospects, and his suspects, even while he’s still getting settled in town, romancing Abby Taylor (Polly Shannon) and getting to know his staff, including Molly Crane (Viola Davis) and Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson (Kohl Sudduth).

This film moved a little slower than Stone Cold, but still equally engaging, as if Jesse is still trying to find his footing in his new home, and locale, though it is interestting to see things I recognized from the first film tying in with everything properly in this one.

Boomer’s storyline is handled really well, and resonated with yours personally kind of strongly, especially with losing Fred the Cat so recently. It also serves to show hor private a person Jesse is. Whenever anyone asks after Boomer, Stone quietly replies, “He’s at home.”

He keeps everyone at a distance, even when he shares parts of his life, like taking Abby as a lover, he doesn’t share everything, keeping pieces of himself and case knowledge hidden away as he puzzles over them, or uses them to test for reactions. He’s more cunning than people realize, and while maybe not manipulative, he will try and control the flow of knowledge to draw his suspects out, or let them trip up to incriminate themselves.

Selleck remains perfect in this role, which for me is saying a lot, cause Magnum is one of my favorite shows!

He’s a glib, wry, and pained creation, and all of it shows in the performance.

He knows he’s got a drinking problem, but knowing and stopping are two different things, in the end, I think he’s just trying to keep as much control of the problem as he can. It’s when things strike closest to home that he pushes the drink away, knowing he’ll need full control of who he is to deal with the problem. We saw it with Abby in Stone Cold, and we see it with Boomer in this film.

Jesse believes in getting the best out of his people, and it’s interesting to see Molly kind of stuck in the dispatch area, and stand-offish with Stone, especially seeing that she looks to become one of his most trusted deputies in Stone Cold. He makes time for all of them, coaching, counseling them, while all the time fending off the town’s perception of him as a drunk and easily controlled.

Hastings finds out too late, that Jesse Stone is more than he thought.

I have to say, I am still intrigued by this series and will be watching more of them, as well as reading the books! They are just waiting to be loaded up onto my Kindle. I’m curious to see how close to the novels these adaptations are. I know Jesse is older in the films, but, for me, it really seems to suit the character.

The films, so far, have been well-written, engaging, and ultimately good fun. I hope the books will entertain me as well.

Have you read them? Or any other of Robert B. Parker’s novels?