Fans of the five earlier Jesse Stone TV-movies will be elated to know that a sixth installment is being offered by CBS-TV on May 9. Tom Selleck returns as Chief Stone; however, he has been relieved of his duties in the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts, pending a hearing, so just call him “Jesse.”
Much is made of Paradise being a small town where everyone knows each other (and each other’s business), so why isn’t anyone in the police department, from the chief down, aware of Millie’s, a successful gay bar? Maybe because there are only two police officers and one of them is the “acting” chief. (I could be wrong about the gay bar—the film jumps back and forth between Paradise and Boston, and it’s not always obvious where Stone is at any given time.)
Luther “Suitcase” (yes, that’s his name) Simpson (Kohl Sudduth) is the acting chief, and Rose Gammon (Kathy Baker) is the remaining police officer. The town council will not allow any additional officers (or office staff, for that matter) to be hired until the business of Stone’s suspension is settled, and rumor has it that not only is he history, but so are the other two cops because he was such a bad influence on them. Those who have seen previous episodes know what I’m talking about—I don’t.
Other returning characters are State Homicide Commander Healy (Stephen McHattie), psychiatrist Dr. Dix (William Devane), mobster Gino Fish (William Sadler), and Hasty Hathaway (Saul Rubinek). My vote for best character name: Hasty Hathaway; best performance: William Sadler as the wry, secretive, gay boxing promoter, Gino Fish (not Pesce?).
There are two reasons to mention that one of the characters is gay. The first is that his orientation is integral to the story. Sadly, the second is the wink-wink-nudge-nudge comments that litter the script, and a disappointing smirkiness as Fish lustfully appraises a man’s posterior (among other scenes). But heterosexual lust isn’t given a much better treatment.
A new character, Hasty Hathaway’s ex-wife, Cissy (Krista Allen) wishes she could wear a scarlet letter—preferably neon—especially when Stone is in the vicinity. Her obvious, and unsuccessful, attempt at seduction is embarrassing because it is so blatantly inept.
Stone has lots of problems besides his job. Three would be his ex-wife, whom he hasn’t gotten over, his dead dog, and his murdered girlfriend (all ghosts of previous episodes); another would be alcohol—LOTS of alcohol. The ex-wife calls him early in the film and he broods about it for the balance of the two hours. Stone has an ex, Hathaway has an ex, and Rose Gammon is about to have an ex. So much for Paradise.
What? Oh, you want to know about the plot? Well, there is one. Stone, having nothing better to do, is reluctantly recruited by Healy to investigate a series of murders in Boston. Is it a serial killer? Stone is convinced it’s a sociopath. He investigates at what some would call a leisurely pace, but others might consider a craaaaaaaaaaaawl. There is so much more emphasis on the characters (some of whom add nothing to the storyline, besides excelsior) and their personal problems that the plot nearly gets in the way of the soap opera.
When Stone has the murders solved, the movie runs out of steam. However, one character gets hit by a car in the most impressive hit-and-run murder ever seen on television. The hit-and-run gets chalked up as one of those things; we never find out how Stone’s hearing turns out, and the movie ends.