Review: The Jesse Stone series (2005-2012 movies)

Note: To search for Jesse Stone information on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel website, click this link.

Update (2017 February 2): Jesse Stone en español en Unimás
The Spanish-language channel Unimás, affiliated with Univision, has for a couple of years been occasionally broadcasting Jesse Stone movies dubbed into Spanish. The most recent (in late January) was Jesse Stone, el beneficio de la duda (Jesse Stone: The Benefit of the Doubt).

Update (2016 June 15): Jesse Stone films available via Feeln.
My brother Mark tells me that the Jesse Stone series is now available on line via the relatively inexpensive subscription video-on-demand service Feelin, which available through Roku, Apple TV, various televisions and Blu-ray players, computers, game consoles, etc. I haven't tried it myself.

Update (2016 May 30): I finally reviewed Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (2015)
I saw the latest Jesse Stone film (originally broadcast back in October 2015) some time ago, but for some reason never got around to posting a review until now. You can find it here rather than below. I debated whether to add it to this post, but I decided I'd keep this one for the CBS films and start a separate one for those on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. There's supposed to be at least one more of those in the works, at least according to an article in Variety published last spring.

Update (2016 May 23): Jesse Stone trivia quiz
The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel has a Jesse Stone trivia quiz here.

Beginning in 2005 Tom Selleck (the star of Magnum PI in the 1980s and more recently a regular on Blue Bloods) has been lead actor, executive producer, and occasionally co-writer of eight made-for-television movies based on a series of mystery novels by Robert B Parker, who’s better known as the creator of the Boston private eye Spenser. Stone is a former Los Angeles cop whose drinking cost him his job and his wife, leading him to take a position as chief of police in a small town called Paradise on the Massachusetts coast, almost as far from Los Angeles as he could get. He’s still struggling with his drinking, but he’s good at what he does, and in his new job he earns the friendship of a lot of people while pissing off some of the local civic leaders for not doing what he’s told.

There’s enough of a continuing story here that the films are best watched in logical sequence, which means switching the first two films from their broadcast order.

Jesse Stone: Night Passage (2006)

Saul Rubinek plays the town leader who persuades his colleagues to hire Selleck. His wife, played by Stephanie March (the stunning tall blond assistant district attorney on Law & Order: SVU) has her own designs on him and is very forthright about it. Selleck says, “Wow,” but he never takes her up on the offer, possibly because she’s married, possibly because he’s still pining for his ex (the two of them talk by phone almost every night) and possibly because he’s afraid of being hurt, and I don’t mean emotionally. She’s scary hot. He does over the course of the series get romantic with younger women, but mainly ones who seem more likely to show mercy to an older guy like us. Selleck is even older than I am, but that barely seems to slow him down.

(Yes, he’s also taller, slimmer, better looking, has not gone bald, his facial hair isn’t gray, and in general he looks more like a somewhat older Magnum PI than like the less-successful brother of Santa Claus.)

The police department includes an annoying middle-aged male cop, a woman he quickly learns to respect, and a naive young guy Selleck takes to calling “Suitcase” after the famous shortstop he slightly resembles. (Suitcase is played by Kohl Sudduth, a name that sounds like he should be an associate of Cthulhu.) Another recurring character is Stephen McHattie, the state’s head homicide investigator, who’s based in Boston.

In the course of the film Selleck takes a street-cop approach to a domestic dispute and helps McHattie solve the murder of Selleck’s predecessor. Unfortunately the climax is ridiculous, with Selleck putting himself pointlessly in danger, but the characters, setting, and overall story make up for that.

Jesse Stone: Stone Cold (2005) 

This is more suspense than mystery, since we learn very early on who the bad guys are. Somehow Selleck intuits it as well, though he has no evidence to support his suspicions. Again he also has to deal with more mundane problems in town.

If you watched Frasier, you probably remember that in the final season of that series Niles (himself engaged to someone else) professed his love for Daphne just before her wedding. Daphne’s fiancé was played by Saul Rubinek, the sleazy politician who hired Selleck in Night Passage, so it’s interesting that Niles’s fiancée, Jane Adams, has a major role in this film. (Incidentally, while Adams often plays a rather mousy character, here she comes off as seriously sexy.)

Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (2006)

Selleck co-wrote this episode, and perhaps as a result it’s a bit better plotted than the previous two. Investigating the death of a teenage girl leads Selleck to a Boston mobster and a young nun, both of whom show up in later episodes as well. Meanwhile, his ex-wife, or at least her voice on the telephone, convinces Selleck to start seeing an ex-cop turned psychiatrist for help with his drinking.

Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)

Stone’s alcoholism is worsened by the news that his ex is sleeping with her boss, so he tries to get himself back on track by investigating a cold case, a bank robbery that ended in kidnapping and death. He soon turns up puzzling new evidence that suggests the crime wasn’t what it seemed to be. Meanwhile the city council wants him to stop risking bad publicity by investigating a rich yacht owner accused of molesting a young female guest.

At one point Jesse listens to a Brahms piece that is apparently Intermezzo in A Major Opus 118 Number 2. There's a YouTube playlist of music from that episode.

Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)

Selleck is hanging out with his friend Stephen McHattie on a stakeout in Boston when a gunman nearly succeeds in killing them both, and he breaks the law to solve the case and bring the bad guy to justice.

Meanwhile, Camryn Mannheim has ridden by bus all the way from Albuquerque to look for her missing son [not daughter as I originally wrote], who had been snatched from the hospital not long after birth. She's come to Paradise because she just got an anonymous letter with a Paradise postmark saying, “Your child is loved.”

Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010)

The city council has suspended Selleck without pay, not for his lawbreaking in the previous film (they’re not even aware of it) but mainly, one suspects, for cutting down the tree hiding the speed limit sign at the town’s lucrative speed trap.

Saul Rubinek’s wife, the one who propositioned Selleck when he first got into town, is now divorced and is a new woman, or played by a new actress anyway, but she’s still hot in every sense of the word and still wants to pork Selleck’s brains out, and in reaction he still says, “Wow.” He also still declines, possibly because he’s busy tackling the greatest mystery of his career: figuring out his new cell phone.

In addition, he’s been hired by his friend McHattie as a consultant on a case in Boston that involves an apparent serial killer. Back in Paradise the severely understaffed police department is investigating an unusually violent series of convenience store robberies.

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (2011)

Selleck is no longer suspended because he’s been forced to take early (actually, not that early) retirement. But when the obnoxious young new chief won’t look into the drug-related death of a young woman Selleck knew, he bends the rules and eventually breaks the law again investigating on his own. He also drinks more while his dog looks on with obvious disapproval.

This is one of the weaker films of the series and even seems to be missing at least one scene, given that Selleck suddenly knows something without any explanation how he found it out. The ending and some things leading up to it struck me as dumb. The characters remain appealing, though. This is one of the great things about the Jesse Stone movies: Flawed they may sometimes be, but you like them anyway.

Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (2012)

When local leaders want a double murder solved they bring Selleck back out of retirement, which is a practical necessity because nobody else is left in the police department. All is of course not as it seems. Well-written dialog helps make up for the occasional plot holes. A hot woman for once turns Selleck down, bluntly telling him she’s too young for him. And then she goes out with him anyway, and gets mad when she thinks he's not sufficiently interested in her romantically. It’s good to be the co-writer.

Update: K. Hollenbacher (who also comments below) points out that the last paragraph above seems to imply that the town re-hired Jesse Stone only because they had no cops left, and in fact he's rehired because even his biggest enemy on the town council recognizes that he's the best person available to investigate the murder of his beloved son-in-law. And from the same source comes a complaint that my quick descriptions may leave an impression that the plots are simpler than they are. In fact, the stories are reasonably involved, especially given the limits of the running time, and there are hints supplied for the viewer to figure out more of what's really going on.

Update: For my reviews of the Jesse Stone novels, see this later post.

Here's the trailer for the first broadcast:

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Comments

Review: The Jesse Stone series (2005-2012 movies) — 170 Comments

  1. I just finished watching the Jesse Stone marathon 10/25/15.. I love this series very much and hope it continues. One problem what happened to Reggie. I guess I missed something. In One scene Jesse is sitting on a rock looking out to sea and on the stone was Reggies name and 2 dates
    Did he die in another story that wasn't shown or did they just cut the scene out. They had quite a few commercials.

    • Lois, the dog that "played" Reggie died in real life. The NEW dog is one that Jessie takes home from a crime scene, whose owner was a a murder victim (made part of storyline). Hope this answers your question.

      • The dog who played Reggie was "Joe the Dog" and passed on in 2013. The owner got "Ned
        The Dog" and he is the dog Jesse rescues in Lost in Paradise and is called "Steve in the movie. He is great!

    • No one has answered your question. I am curious also. Where did the dog die in one of the films?

      • The film was Night Passage. The dogs name was Boomer. He had kidney failure. Jesse asked the ME/Pediatrician to put the dog down.

  2. I never get tired of watching the Jesse Stone Movies. I watch them over and over everytime they come on. I love Tom Selleck. He is the perfect man for the part of Jesse Stone I only wish he would be more friendly with the dogs that try to be his friends. Show them some more affection instead of always saying, "What are you looking at?" Other than that I love the series and I am on the look out to see if I can buy them so that I will always have my own set! I love the series and can't watch them enough!

    • You can buy the Jesse Stone collection on Amazon as a set or 1 at a time. The Soundtrack is amazing but you have to contact Jeff Beal who did the soundtrack to download it!

  3. I think this series shows off the talent of both Tom Selleck & the dog! The stories are also mulit leveled & brilliant!

  4. Will there be any more Jesse Stone movies? We really love these movies and would like to see more. We are watching the old ones several times. It would be great to see new one.

    • Hi Alma, as I understand it, there is supposed to be at least one more Jesse Stone movie on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel, but I don't know when it will air. The last one, Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (2015), is now available on DVD and streaming services. I've been remiss in not adding it to the reviews and I'll try to do it in the next week or so.

  5. Is there a movie that explains what happen to Jessie in Los Angeles and why he moved to paradise?

    • Hi, Sue. The answer comes up at the start of Night Passage, the first Jesse Stone movie chronologically but the second one broadcast. When it begins, Jesse's life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. The breakup of his marriage led to his drinking, and his drinking cost him his job as a cop. Paradise was appealing for being in so many ways the opposite of L.A., and his best hope for starting over. That, plus it was the only place that seemed willing to take a chance on him. There's more in Robert B. Parker's novel, which goes more deeply into the reasons for the breakup. Bear in mind that the Jesse Stone of the novels is much younger and different in other ways, however. I reviewed the novels here.

  6. I just bought a set of 8 from Amazon.com. We have a Friday night movie night at the condos, and limit ourselves to one every Friday night. Love these movies. Love the scenery. Is the supposed 2015 movie LOST IN PARADISE or DEATH IN PARADISE? I got Death in Paradise as part of the set of 8.

    • The 2015 film is Lost in Paradise. It's now out on DVD and I finally watched it and really need to get around to writing a review soon. The short version is that Paradise is quiet, so Jesse, bored and depressed, volunteers to investigate a cold case in Boston, one in which a confessed and imprisoned serial killer for some reason denies having committed a particular murder, even though it uses his exact MO. Meanwhile Suitcase is back on the police force in Paradise and basically running it. Not all the regulars are back, though some are. It's not the best in the series, but it's definitely worth seeing for Jesse Stone fans.

  7. Who sings the song, " . . .the water's fine, I can't cross over . .. during the church memorial service for Cindy Van Aldan, young girl friend of Jesse, who died, in Jesse Stone's film "Innocents Lost?

    Thank you

    • For the definitive version of that song IMO, search for the kalra banoff version of "the water is wide" on YouTube.

    • Good question! The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel is the most likely place to find them. If you go to their "movies" page at http://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/movies and keep scrolling down the alphabetical list, you'll eventually find a list of upcoming broadcasts of Jesse Stone movies (in the Js). Click on the name of the film, and you'll be taken to a page where you can see a description of the episode and list of future broadcast dates and times. As I type this, there are only five scheduled in the near future (all rebroadcasts of existing films), but my guess is they will cycle through the full set over time. Also check their Facebook page here, where they occasionally respond to questions about when the next Jesse Stone film is coming out.

  8. I just watched the Jesse Stone marathon on the Hallmark Channel & enjoyed it immensely. However, I don't recall seeing when his new girlfriend (the prosecuter) was killed by the husband & wife, who had also committed several other murders. I also seem to recall (when the movies were originally aired) one movie in which there was a big robbery at some exclusive gated community that Jesse investigated. Am I going crazy, or were these things omitted from the Hallmark showings. I would really appreciate a response. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request. Sincerely, Bailey E Howard Jr.

  9. Pingback: Review: Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (2015 movie) | D Gary Grady

  10. So I've watched Jesse Stone films on Hallmark and they seem obviously edited. My question is were they edited when they moved from CBS to Hallmark channel. Oh, and a Jesse Stone marathon is playing on Hallmark right now.

    • I don't know for certain, but in comparison with the major broadcast networks, cable networks typically devote more minutes per hour to commercials. An article in Adweek from a couple of years ago addressed that in some detail. In addition, more time is typically devoted to ads in syndication (reruns of older programs on broadcast or cable) and even in a rerun on the original network. The famous musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had (at least) one fewer song in it when it was rebroadcast on the same network in the same season. One piece of good news: the excessive number of commercials has driven so many people toward subscription video on demand that last year some broadcasters started cutting back on ad time, at least according to one article.

    • That's a hard question to answer. It was originally broadcast on network television, so there's no nudity, explicit violence, or foul language, but it also clearly isn't aimed at children, and the plot has to do with serial murders and sex, though neither are on-screen or graphic that I recall. I'd say it's probably about average for a modern cop show, much more family-friendly than, say, the average episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit but much less so than one of Magnum, PI. I hope that helps.

  11. What was to happen on April 24th, what did the code mean other than the H was for Hasty and why was the sniper trying to kill Jesse on the boat?

  12. In the episodes involving the kidnapping of a baby, did it get solved and if so, which one was it, so we can see it.

    • Hi Margie, I think you're referring to Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009). A woman comes to Paradise searching for her son, who had been kidnapped as an infant, and who some evidence suggests may be in be in Paradise. The solving of that mystery was a major secondary plot in the episode. The Wikipedia entry for the film has a concise description of what happens from there, but it's best to avoid it if you don't want the mystery spoiled.

      • You beat me to the answer Gary. I remembered the storyline
        but had to go back & look up the particular show.

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