Three years and a network switch later, TV stalwart Tom Selleck returns as big-city-cop turned small-town cop Jesse Stone in Lost in Paradise, the (excellent) ninth TV movie adapted from the book series by late author Robert B. Parker, which sees Selleck as good (and comfortable) in the role as ever.
In the decade since the first TV movie, 2005’s Stone Cold, former LAPD detective Stone left his job there, became Chief of Police of Paradise, Massachusetts, was forced out, and then reinstated. Now, with seemingly no crimes occurring in Paradise, he hits up the Boston PD for a case to investigate, and gets one involving the supposed fourth victim of a convicted serial killer (Luke Perry).
As before, director Robert Harmon (who has helmed all of these save one) shows off the Nova Scotia locale, where all the entries have been filmed, to beautiful effect and moves things along at a wonderfully relaxed pace, a feeling fostered by series composer Jeff Bealy’s superb slow-jazz score. The tranquil tone, per usual, belies the abhorrent nature of the murder Stone is investigating.
The 70-year-old Selleck (who co-wrote this one) slips so easily back into his Stone persona it’s like he never took three years off from it (partly thanks to CBS, which no longer wanted to air the movies; hence the series’ move to the Hallmark Channel): the gruff-but-caring behavior, the man-of-few-words way he speaks, the character’s seemingly constant sorrow—Selleck nails it all.
Selleck aside, what really raises these films above your run-of-the-mill TV movies is how well the supporting characters are written, even the ones that barely appear. Here that applies both to new faces, like Leslie Hope’s Boston PD Lieutenant and Perry’s convicted killer, and returning ones, including Kohl Sudduth’s deputy, William Sadler’s mobster and William Devane’s psychiatrist.
Selleck and co-writer Michael Brandman also manage to give Stone a side project concerning an abused teen (Interstellar’s Mackenzie Foy) that both meshes perfectly with the overall plot and feels substantial. They include, too, some violence in the finale—just a bit, but more than I expected in a Hallmark movie. But you’ll forget all about that when you meet Stone’s sweet new dog. – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 1/26/16