In this eighth and, possibly, final entry in the TV movie series, based on the character created by novelist Robert B. Parker, fired Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone (Tom Selleck) is called back to duty after the town’s current chief and his deputy are killed in a car explosion. Drugs and remnants of cash found at the crime scene suggest that the dead chief was a “dirty cop,” but Stone doesn’t believe it. And, after he finds his chief suspect dead, proving the chief’s innocence is going to be next to impossible.
To make matters worse, Jesse is working alone, since his police department no longer has a staff, and then there’s that guy (Robert Carradine) who’s following him.
Character-driven, the Jesse Stone movies were one of the most engrossing series on television, even though we only got a new entry about once every year.
Parker’s multi-faceted characters are all extremely well conceived, each one having their own particular set of personal problems which, if not dealt with completely in one of the movies, was carried over to the next film or the one after that. Indeed, the characters in these stories were just as important as the criminal cases that needed to be solved.
Unfortunately, this current entry and the previous one (Innocents Lost) have floundered, possibly because in both films, writers Tom Selleck and Michael Brandman spent too much time dealing with characters that we already knew and not enough time developing an intriguing mystery. Indeed, after watching Innocents Lost twice, I’m still not sure which character Stone shot in the movie’s climactic scene.
The dialogue in Benefit of a Doubt is certainly clever, but so many of the scenes are unnecessary because they just reiterate information we already know and don’t really advance the plot, which does not seem to have been well thought out. Even after Selleck as Stone explains the “who did what to whom” in the film’s final scene, I remain dubious.
Like with its predecessors, production values on Benefit of a Doubt are first-rate and look much more like a theatrical feature than a television movie.
Co-starring with Selleck in the current film are regulars Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, Stephen McHattie, William Sadler, Saul Rubinek and William Devane. Robert Harmon, once again, directs.
CBS recently announced that the network would not be ordering any more Jesse Stone movies. However, it’s my understanding that Selleck and his producing partners may be trying to find a new home for future entries in the series.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is sharp with no issues.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital Sound is excellent.
None are included with this release.
This is not one of the better entries in the TV movie series.