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Featured TV on DVD Review: Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt

August 4th, 2012

Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt - Buy from Amazon

This could be the last Jesse Stone TV movie. While it was seen by nearly 13 million viewers, total viewers are meaningless when advertisers are interested in the prime demographic only. This franchise has always skewed on the old side, but this film only earned a 1.2 in that prime demographic. There's a chance it could be picked up by a pay channel, one that doesn't rely on ad revenue, but is it worth it? Or is the franchise naturally running out of steam?

The Movie

The movie begins with two cops from the Paradise Police Department, the new Police Chief, William Butler (Jeff Geddis), and his deputy, Anthony D'Angelo (Vito Rezza) riding toward a possible case of arson. They talk about nothing too important, mostly about the previous chief, Jesse Stone. Suddenly, their police cruiser blows up.

Later, town council president, Carter Hansen (Jeremy Akerman) and Hasty Hathaway come to visit Jesse Stone. Carter Hansen has previously removed Jesse of Police Chief of the Paradise Police Department and made William Butler his replacement. William Butler was also his son-in-law. Now he is asking Jesse for help to keep him in the loop in the investigation. However, since he's no longer a cop, he won't be able to do that, so Hansen reinstates him, as Temp Chief, although Jesse disputes the temp part. Getting back into business turns out to be tougher than he was expecting. Deputy Rose Gammon left a while ago and Jesse doesn't know where to find her. He's not even sure where to look, as the pair of friends drifted apart. Luther Simpson also quit, when William Butler became police chief. (He was acting chief for a bit after Jesse was fired.) Neither one is interested in returning to their old job.

Jesse does have a few leads. Firstly, he finds in Butler's day book a note on April 24th, "2AH10", but does't know what that means. Also, the State Police Homicide Commander, Captain Healy, finds the burnt remains of $100,000 in cash and some heroin where the spare tire should have been in the police cruiser. This is pretty compelling evidence that William Butler was a dirty cop. However, despite the animosity between the two, Jesse thinks he's being set up. If you are a drug dealer and a cop is getting too close to you, burning $100,000 is a small price to pay to get rid of him, while painting him as a corrupt cop. Jesse manages to track down a likely suspect in the killing, but when he finds him, he's killed himself. At least that's what it looks like. Jesse's convinced Butler was setup and the suicide was staged. He does think one piece of evidence is important: the drugs. Perhaps Butler was getting close to busting a drug dealer and that killed him. This obviously this brings up Gino Fish, a boxing promoter and drug kingpin Jesse has dealt with before, but as Captain Healy says, this isn't Gino's style. Jesse is convinced he's on the right track, especially when he catches Art Gallery following him around. Art has a deer rifle in his trunk, but Jesse doesn't think he's there to shoot deer.

If you liked the previous Jesse Stone movies, then you will probably enjoy Benefit of the Doubt as well, as it has the same strengths, and some potential weaknesses of the other films. This is an old fashioned police procedural, but in a good way. It doesn't rely on technobabble investigation techniques or car chases to be engaging, although this film does have more action than some previous installments in the franchise. The film's pace is deliberate, to be generous. Additionally, there is a lot of unspoken back-story to the characters, so if you haven't seen the previous films, you might get a little confused as to who these characters are and what their relationships are. Compared to the previous installments, the mystery is not quite as engaging. The big crime happens very early in and outside of one or two clues, we don't get a lot of evidence to contemplate. Part of the appeal of this genre is being able to go along with your favorite detective and try and figure out before the big reveal. That didn't really happen here, because there was so little evidence collected. Hell, there weren't even a lot of interviews with potential suspects.

That said, the writing around the characters is excellent, as is the acting, and if you like Tom Selleck, then it is worth watching just to see him act.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt is a step down from No Remorse, but most fans will still want to see it. I'm not sure it has the same replay value as the previous films and the DVD has no extras. If you are a strong fan of the franchise, it might be worth picking up, but others might opt for a rental.

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