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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Review: The Jesse Stone series (2005-2012 movies) — 177 Comments

  1. Manheim comes to Paradise to find her lost baby boy named Adam–not her daughter.

    The Jesse Stone series is interesting generally because of the deliciously flawed main character as well as the interaction between
    Stone and the other members of the cast. I particularly like the Captain Healey character because when he is participating in the story there are always strong police procedural elements. Additionally, Stone and the psychiatrist played by William Devane
    lend more depth and development to the Stone character in their short but illuminating conversations. Here’s hoping that Jesse Stone continues despite the stupidity of CBS.

  2. Thanks for the correction; I’ve fixed it in the post above. I share your hope that some network (even if not CBS) will continue the series, and I agree with your take on the characters and character relationships.

    • I love the Jessie stone series. At 55 I suppose I would fit into the older audience category but I would have liked to read the whole Jessie Stone series at 16 as much as now. I’ve been waiting all year for this years episode&am quite annoyed with CBS for not continuing production based on the age of the audience&that younger audiences are more influenced by adds!I am wondering if the series is continued by the writer of the original novels? I don’t care about refrigerator parts& some of the nit picking I think it’s the best telly series to come out for ages&makes me want to watch every Magnum episode in order from the pilot till the last episode. Also I have downloaded Quiggly Downunder& Reversible Errors which is a mid 2000’s & a very Jesse Stone type movie starring Tom Selleck & a couple of westerns from the 90’s as well. Praying they resurrect you Jesse Stone

  3. Not to be argumentative, but…

    Jesse Stone series has something for everyone—romance, explosions, car chases, gun fights, fist fights, mobsters, graft and corruption and exceedingly well developed characters. In the time allotted for a television movie, the plots are as complex as time allows considering there are too many commercials on CBS. CBS’ conclusion that Jesse Stone only attracts “older” viewers is poppy cock. LM of CBS needs to go—he’s made a series of very bad decisions and this is a monumental one. It is kind of ironic that LM is himself not in the 18-49 age range.

    I disagree that the plots have holes. If one pays attention to clues given (sometimes inferred) the plots make perfect sense just like a really good novel. Jesse Stone character proclaims his prowess at being a cop repeatedly and that includes understanding the criminal mind and therefore the psychology involved. In one of the movies he declares that he has read multiple books about criminality. His radar and intuition are highly developed obviously and that is one of the more interesting things about his character. Experience is a marvelous teacher.

    Jesse Stone and Wallander by Henning Mankell have some things in common—both are damaged personalities, seem to be loners, and both have very developed intuitions that others around them (and viewers, readers) are sadly lacking.

    • Hey, nothing wrong with being argumentative, and I agree with most of what you say anyway.

      I suspect CBS has at least some objective data suggesting that fans of the Jesse Stone series tend to be older, but even if the viewership does skew that way, odds are it’s at least partly a reflection of how they promote the series. Be that as it may, the main reason they care about age demographics is that advertisers do. It’s not that advertisers don’t care about selling to older folks, it’s that they don’t think older viewers are as influenced by ads.

      Anyway, I hope Selleck et al will consider cable or even Netflix as an alternative, and perhaps take the opportunity to make a movie every six months rather than once a year or so.

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on the existence of plot holes. I noticed a number of them in several of the films, though mostly they’re what Alfred Hitchcock called “refrigerator questions.” Say you see a movie and then some time later, maybe a few nights later, you wake up hungry and as you stand in the cold light of the refrigerator trying to decide what to eat, you happen to think back to the movie and say, “Hey, wait a minute.” That’s a refrigerator question, and Hitchcock said he didn’t worry about them. The Jesse Stone plot holes tend to be of that sort, and as I’ve said like pretty much everything else about the series and I’m happy to overlook them.

    • I totally agree with every word you said. If your hungry like me for another episode of Jesse Stone Try ‘Reversible Errors’, a 2004 Tom Selleck movie that is like a pre-runner for the Jesse Stone series in the plot&Selleck’s character cast. It also stars William.H.Marcy. You know I think in most Tom Selleck movies he seems to basically play himself to some degree. I don’t know this,but I have picked that up from the old Magnum days.

      • Thanks for the suggestion. In passing, another William H Macy movie you might like is A Slight Case of Murder (1999), based on a black comedy crime novel by Donald E Westlake. As for Selleck playing someone very like himself, I have heard indirectly from someone involved in producing Magnum PI that Selleck is an extremely decent and generous guy.

  4. Please tell me there IS another Jesse Stone movie. If not, then maybe a mini-series to bring closure???

  5. Unfortunately, while Selleck suggested last year that the series might continue on a cable network, there’s been no film announced and it seems less and less likely despite pretty constant fan demand. I’ve seen nothing since the news summarized in Wikipedia’s article on Jesse Stone, which was about 15 months ago. A few months ago Sony released a deluxe DVD set complete with a Jesse Stone ball cap, so they know the series remains popular.

    In the meantime I’ve finally started reading the novels, which are quite good if a bit different from the television series. (Jesse is about 30 years younger, for one thing, and his ex-wife is more of a major character.) Author Robert B Parker really liked the television adaptations despite the differences, and producer Michael Brandon has been allowed by Parker’s estate to continue the novel series, which now consists of nine books by Parker and three by Brandon.

  6. We need another Jesse Stone movie in the worst way. Benefit of the Doubt left you hanging because the bad guy got away and the bad guys are not supposed to get away. Tom, please do at least one more movie for us so we can have closure. No one could be Jesse like you. I am sure I am not the only person having Jesse Stone withdrawals. The story lines and the acting in all of these movies are second to none in my humble opinion.

  7. Enjoy the telemovies immensely even with some of the shortfalls that you mention. My 34 year Police Career (now retired) has me yelling at the screen occasionally, but I make allowances for small town procedures and poetic licence. My query is regarding the books which I have been adding to my Kindle. Are you aware of why they are all available on Kindle except for “Sea Change” and “High Profile”? I do realise that the movies do not follow the books faithfully and in some cases not at all, but it puzzles me they would have all but two available on Kindle

    • Curious! Sea Change and High Profile are available on Kindle in the U.S. Perhaps it’s some problem with licensing for Australia. (I’m assuming based on your email address that that’s where you are.) My Aussie friends tell me actual printed books are pricey there and I suspect Australian publishers do everything they can to keep from seeing their healthy profits undercut by electronic editions. I’m only guessing, though.

      • Of course! I had heard of that anomaly (mainly in things like iTunes) but this is the first time I have had the problem. Many thanks.

  8. Please make more Jesse Stone movies. They r awesome…. don’t leave us hanging please.. thanks

  9. love love the TV series and always looking forward for the series back to back , truly hope there were more of them.

  10. Love all the characters in the series. Very intelligent plots and better dialog. More more feed me now!

  11. What’s wrong with making TV movies for us “older” viewers? I love the Jesse Stone series, have all the dvd’s and hope that one of the networks picks up the option to make and/or produce more. More Jesse Stone please!!

  12. I have been looking forward to a new Jesse Stone movie. Hopefully one of the networks will cater to the “over 40” crowd (who watch) and appease our desire to see Tom Selleck reprise this role.

  13. Funny thing how this works. I turn in the TV and tune into a Jesse Stone movie that I’ve seen before and so has my husband & sons. As one on them passes through the living room and gets a glimpse of the scene playing, he (any one of them) stops for ‘just a minute’ and sits down on the sofa to see this one scene. Next thing you know they’re watching for the rest of the movie. If it’s a marathon, they’re down for that. First one, then the next and the next until the family is all seated and watching. We’ve seen all the movies several times but the scenery, characters and experiences are so incredibly brilliant that it makes for a classic movie event even after the 4th re-run. Point is that the Jesse Stone series is for all ages and brings a family together for movie night even or *especially* when it’s not planned. GOTTA HAVE MORE!

  14. We need more movies like the Jesse Stone series. Plot, characters and settings all create a fabulous family night for us. Very few tv entertains are available that we all will watch! Tom Seleck is master of the character. Enjoyed the “cold case” plot, also. Whatever “audience” is the reason for not having this series continued this series bridges gender and age gaps that many of our entertainment offerings don’t. Please bring back another Jesse Stone movie.

  15. Been a fan from the very beginning. I have all the movies and re-run them often. I have not seen any comment about the photography. It is like a series of beautiful stills,each one a story on its own.I could watch with the sound off and enjoy the pictures. The economy of words used by the main character is another style I like,most scenes in other action dramas hit you like a ton of bricks. Jesse Stone makes you think and feel before moving on to the next scene. I think it nearly criminal not to have at least one more.

  16. I have heard nothing of anything new coming up either. The only thing I did notice was the way they ended the last movie. Jesse got his job back, Suitcase returned, and Hasty got away clean. This is a primed open ending for a continued series. We that care can only hope CBS hears us. In my opinion, it’s amongst the best stuff that Tom has ever done.

    • I think it’s Ozzie Smith, but don’t bet money on it. A lot of people think it’s Suitcase Simpson, but Simpson was a first baseman and outfielder whose only connection to Jesse was that he has a cop on his force he calls “Suitcase” after the player. Jesse himself played shortstop until he injured his shoulder, and he considered Ozzie Smith the greatest shortstop of all time. (Again, assuming I have my Ozzies right…)

    • They were filmed principally in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, I believe. Canada has a lot of incentives for film companies, so a fair amount of U.S. television production takes place there.

  17. If we of the older demographic PROMISE to buy some stuff the advertisers are hawking would they, could they, please bring Jesse Stone back?

  18. We want more Jesse! CBS please don’t leave us hanging. We need closure from the last film and want more quality movies like these. So what if we are older viewers. The reality crap out there is not worth watching. I watch a lot on CBS, more than any other network, so I know you cater to the older crowd. Tom Selleck is my very favorite actor and he needs to be out there again showing off his superb acting skills as Jesse.

    • Unfortunately, I think CBS is a lost cause. On the other hand, as I suggest in a more recent post, I think a Kickstarter campaign for a new Jesse Stone movie would be a big success, just like the one that led to a Veronica Mars movie on iTunes.

  19. Just loved this series of mini films and the music was haunting. Also fell in love with the dog.

  20. Love jessie stone movies have them all but not all of the series is out will they continue please we need more

  21. CBS has always produced mostely decent stuff, even back to the old Hawaii 5-0. Lets hope the keep on.

  22. Please!!! We need another Jesse Stone movie. We are waiting, hanging. At least catch the bad guy. We love all of them.

  23. My husband and I are bothh big fans of the Jessie Stone Movies. We love the cast and the one liners they all use. The Cast members all mesh so perfectley with one another. The stories are like the old who done its of years ago. We own all the movies, and have watched them all twice over. As much as we enjoy Tom Seleck (were big fans have all his westerns to) in Blue Bloods there is something special about the Jessie Stone series and hope they will continue on for a long time to come. Keep them comeing!

  24. If Tom wants to do another film about Jesse Stone it will happen. I actually think he will do one soon because his character on BlueBloods is limited . Jesse Stone gives him much more to work with and is indeed much more enjoyable for his fans to watch. I think if Robert Urich were alive today he would encourage him to do another. He’s another actor we all miss. Yes another Jesse Stone is needed badly.

  25. I am 86. I need some more Jesse Stone films. Please make some soon. I am enjoying Blue Blood, but more of Jesse would be great.

  26. What a waste of one of the most interesting characters on television. Jesse Stone is an excellent character made even more so by the man who created him in book form by the late Robert B. Parker and by the talented Tom Selleck. We need to carry on Jesse Stone! Mr. Selleck, I don’t care what network you have to go to, bring back Jesse Stone! PLEASE!!!

  27. This is the most wonderful series. on Selleck and cast are excellent. Having read all the Parker books the transition from book to screen is terrific. Please please more of this so watchable character.

  28. I only hope Tom Selleck and his people monitor this site to get a feel for the interest his fans have for him continuing this outstanding and series.

  29. I hope they bring back jesse stone with tom selleck. CBS is CRAZY for cancelling. I dont care what channel it comes back on i just want the series finished.

  30. Its one of the best series that I have ever watched and true to form its been knocked out after such a short time it is timeless

  31. Jesse Stone is the best series I have seen in my life. Since the first one in 2005 I bought some books, which are wonderful as well. Though Jesse in the books is a bit different than he is in the movies. When “Benefit of the doubt” aired, I was on vacation and couldn’t wait till it was shown again. Hearing CBC cancelled the series, I was deeply sad. Having a bad day or just a bad time watching the movies helped me like nothing else does. Maybe it sounds kind of stupid but Jesse became a friend of mine during the time. Me and he overlap more and more. What he thinks, are mostly my thoughts. I hope Tom Selleck knows how glad we fans would be if there would be more movies. I just need more Jesse Stone movies, as mentioned above. I am serious dear MR. SELLECK !!!

  32. Yup, stunning cinematography. Haunting music. The Dog. And lean dialogue.
    — “Brahms”
    — “Excuse me?”

  33. The Jesse Stone series is Tom Selleck’s “The Searchers”. After playing himself, the same guy: John Wayne, repetitively for years, John Wayne turned in his bravura alarmingly flawed protagonist performance in the “The Searchers”. The movie star suddenly turned actor. Similarly, in Jesse Stone, Selleck gives us a conflicted, very imperfect hero performance, unseen in Thomas Magnum or in other projects.

  34. Thank you for the review of Jesse Stone films. Now we know the right order to watch them in. Great call on having Night Passage go first – how would it make any sense otherwise! Take care! 🙂

  35. The Jesse Stone series has been one of the most outstanding events on TV. After seeing the first I purchased the complete set on DVD. Tom Selleck is outstanding in this role and it even seems he was ordained to play the chief of police in Paradise. His early stuff has nothing on this. Tom Selleck in his maturity has acted with a finesse that only one who has seen it all and done it all can do. Well done Mr. Selleck. All I can say is continue with Jesse Stone. Beg, borrow or “steal” the money to make more. You have made me a fan for life and I am 63.

  36. I recently sat down and watched six of these in chronological succession and found them technically proficient enough, but obviously a vanity project for Selleck. Overaged Magnum shenanigans! He is irresistible to all women he comes across. Even the nun cast suggestive eyes all over his ex-jock carcass. “I don’t know what to do on a dinner date with a nun.”
    “Eat.” she says.
    I find that sort of adolescent and shallow AND repetitive predictable plot devices. The video (not book)character seems to have turned into every middle-aged man’s dream role. Ex-ball player turned cop turned drunk but still can nail every woman he meets on the first date… From the town attorney, to a criminal defense attorney for one of his suspects to an IA investigator looking at busting him. Wow, what a guy! His smart-ass attempts at sarcasm were making me yell at the screen. Also the character’s refusal to answer any question or follow any rules of conduct befitting a law enforcement officer infuriated me. Of course, he always gets his perp and invariably has a shootout at the end of every episode. I found myself watching just to be sure they didn’t miss any cliche’ over the course of any of the two hour episodes and they didn’t disappoint.
    Honestly these teleplays are watchable because of the professionalism of the people involved and the great actors that inhabit these roles. The location is beautiful as well. But the writing is like…(Oh, c’mon!)bad.

    • If this is deliberate trolling it’s well done, and in any case it’s good to have a variety of opinions. I’m impressed by your determination to sit through six Jesse Stone movies just to see what was wrong with them. It sort of reminds me of a time many years ago when a friend of mine and I were talking about getting into producing television ads, and the next day he happened to see me at the other end of a crowded corridor and yelled, “Grady! Thanks to you I just sat through two hours of Touché Turtle cartoons just to see the commercials!”

      I do share your annoyance that all these women throw themselves at Selleck in the Jesse Stone movies. Even one who initially tells him she’s too young for him winds up having coffee with him and storms off when she discovers his interest is professional rather than romantic. But you know what *really* annoys me about this? It’s that with Selleck, it’s not all that implausible, whereas I’m younger than he is and in my case it’s not happening. Dang that’s annoying.

    • As I recall, his second dog belonged to a murder victim and was found near the body at the start of the episode in question. Jesse was taking care of the dog temporarily until a permanent home could be found, and eventually it was obvious Jesse was going to be the dog’s new employer. (Sorry for the delay approving your comment, by the way; I was tied up.)

  37. Like many others here I am a devoted fan too. My demographic is in the 50-55 age group. I’ve purchased the DVD collection and have watched all 8 movies quite a few times over the past several years. I do sinderely hope a 9th (and beyond) is made. I’d be quite willing to contribute to any crowd source funding site. If I was a multi millionaire I’d happily fund the next movie (I buy lotto tickets with this goal in mind). Wishing Tom and cast every success in their future endeavours. Markus. Australia.

  38. We love the Jesse Stone movies. We ordered all eight of them from Amazon. A great cold,winter, Sunday afternoon watch.

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