Tom Selleck and a couple of dogs
Back by popular demand is the excellent US television crime drama series Jesse Stone, based around the best-selling novels of the late Robert Parker, starring Tom Selleck and a couple of dogs.
Dumped by his wife – with whom he maintains regular phone communication – and forced to quit being an LAPD robbery/homicide hardman because of an enduring whisky affiliation, Stone is hired as police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, a small coastal town.
Paradise’s chilly winds and brooding skies provide a perfect backdrop for Chief Stone’s seemingly laid-back, often monosyllabic and occasionally brutal policing style.
A police chief who prefers jeans and an old brown windjacket to a uniform, one of his first jobs is have the letters PPD – Paradise Police Department – stitched on his baseball cap. (Stone is a former minor league player who injured the shoulder of his throwing arm).
He follows this up by flooring wife-beating, Mob-linked cop-killer Joe Genest (Stephen Baldwin) with a savage kick in the goolies.
Chief Stone’s relationship with faithful companion Boomer is short-lived, and the mournful ageing red setter is put down in episode one. “He’s at home…” Stone tells those who ask after Boomer’s health.
Golden retriever Reggie soon fills the gap of watching over Stone at work and during his long, lonely nights with the bottle.
Careful never to drink on the job, Chief Stone makes up out of work.
But even if he has begun the day the John Barleycorn way, Stone’s fists, boots and Smith &Wesson Model SW1911SC .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol never let him down.
(A firearms buff in real life [according to Wikipedia], Selleck, who had a hand in writing some of the series, later switched Stone’s 1911-style pistol to a 1911A1 Colt Commander .45 ACP model.)
Tucked away in sleepy Paradise, and with barely a handful of officers at his command, Stone quickly realises his town has more than its fair share of corruption, major crime, gangsters, white supremists, horny wives and multiple murder.
Unfazed, Chief Stone checks his sidearm and gets on with the clean-up.
Uneasy relationships develop with his troops, state police homicide boss Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie) and Dr Dix (William Devane), Stone’s ex-cop-turned-therapist.
Chief Stone eventually becomes friends with Hastings “Hasty” Hathaway (Saul Rubinek), a former corrupt town council boss locked up by Stone but since released from prison and running a car yard.
A fellow fan likened Jesse Stone to a tough-guy version of Midsomer Murders, without the poisonous village fetes, vengeful vicars or serial-slaying siblings.
It is rare for the US to produce programming of such high quality. Tom Selleck is as he has rarely been seen before, and a far cry from the comic capers of Magnum PI.
Which is why Jesse Stone – each episode a stand-alone full-length made-for-tv film – should not be missed.
Jesse Stone: Friday at 8.30pm on Sky Vibe.