“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.
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?