DVD Review: Jesse Stone Night Passage + Death in Paradise

Jesse Stone: Night Passage and Death in Paradise
Sony Pictures Television

Tom Selleck reprises his role as disgraced alcoholic LAPD cop Jesse Stone, hired as police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts. A prequel to 2005’s Stone Cold, Night Passage covers Jesse’s cross-country drive to accept the job, his bonding with the town’s four-person police force, and his investigation into why he was hired in the first place.

The first call Jesse responds to is at the home of Joe and Carole Genest. Recently divorced, Joe (Stephen Baldwin) has violated a restraining order and threatened to kill his wife. Chief Stone explains quite frankly that another restraining order probably won’t work in this case, and just when Joe thinks he’s off the hook, Jesse kicks him in the groin.

Robert B. Parker’s books often explore the gray areas between “right” and “legal,” “wrong” and “illegal”, with frontier values usually prevailing. Though considerably older than the Stone of the books, TV Western star Selleck proves the best lead to deliver Parker’s themes as well as his dryly funny dialog.

Night Passage’s main conflict is the suspicious death of ex-police chief Lou Carson (Mike Starr). True to Parker’s recent form, the man behind the death is known well before the end. The question is, will Jesse get himself together enough to act on his suspicions and bring the man to justice?

Death in Paradise picks up after the events of Night Passage and Stone Cold, and is more of a mystery. The body of a teenage girl is found in a lake, and Jesse and the Paradise police must piece together the details of her life and how she died.

After the ratings success of Stone Cold there was some buzz that Stone might fuel a weekly drama. Exec producer Selleck wisely stayed with the TV movie format, insuring a consistent, not overplayed tone in the writing, direction, and chemistry among regulars.

The Night Passage and Death in Paradise DVDs are presented in widescreen. They include no behind-the-scenes extras, but subtitles and audio are available in several languages.

Gerald So

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Editor’s Note: CBS has ordered a fifth Jesse Stone film, click here for more info.