STUDIO: Sony Pictures
MSRP: $24.96
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

The Pitch

Jesse Stone is a man with man personal demons. You can tell this because he drinks scotch every five seconds. He’s troubled! That’s just great, because he’s stepping in as sheriff in a troubled town with many skeletons buried in its closet. He’s troubled! Also, he has a beard.

The Humans

Tom Selleck, Saul Rubinek, Stephanie March and Stephen Baldwin

"You’re telling me my severance package is nothing but Arby’s coupons? Awesome!"

The Nutshell

Jesse Stone is a surly, grizzled and troubled man. He’s drinks scotch before tucking in for the night, drinks scotch to wake up in the morning, drinks scotch on the way to his job interview, drinks scotch as he shops for groceries and drinks scotch as he walks the dog. When he goes to a bar, he drinks a beer. No joke.

Jesse’s alcoholism led him to sabotage his relationship with his wife and ultimately lose his job as a Los Angeles homicide detective. Divorced and dejected, he decides to get away from it all by accepting a job as sheriff in a small Massachusetts town. His record as a cop is impressive enough that he gets the job even after smelling of alcohol during the interview. Either that or the town council wants a drunk, ineffective sheriff running things, but why would they want that? Hint hint.

Word gets around this small town fast about the new sheriff’s penchant for alcohol. Stone has to deal with the realities of small town life by integrating himself into the whole social structure and making friends. He tries to stop an abusive husband from hitting his wife, a small girl from smoking dope, and himself from porking every housewife in the immediate vicinity.

Along the way, he uncovers a plot involving money laundering and the murder of the town’s former sheriff. He knows the local town creep has something to do with it, because he’s played by Stephen Baldwin and refuses to abandon his douchebag smile for half a second. Will this big city cop find himself in too deep when he tries to reform Mayberry? Considering it’s a CBS television movie and the first in a series of several stories, the safe bet is on “no.”

Ooo. A light-up bow-tie? I’ve got more taste in my penis.

The Lowdown

A television movie of the week about a hard boiled cop is clichéd you say? Who could have ever expected such a thing! When one thinks of CBS, they think of some of the most radically original shows on television such as C.S.I. Miami, C.S.I. New York and N.C.I.S.! To suggest that they’re capable of producing banal programming to please their older viewers is just outlandish. The network behind Spring Break Shark Attack would never do that.

Night Passage is well made and acted well enough, there’s just nothing special or distinguishing about it. Jesse Stone as a character has nothing that makes him different from any other burned out cop on the beat. Maybe if he had one of those awesome scars along his eye or a conjoined twin he would set himself out from the rest of the pack.

Nothing about Night Passage is subtle in the least. Selleck might as well wear a T-shirt with the words “I am a troubled loner” on it the whole time. He’s supposed to be a dark but clever guy, but ultimately comes off like a jerk. He refuses to answer any question directly, always countering with a question of his own like “what’s it matter?” It might not matter that much, but can’t you answer a simple question you bearded jerk?

The movie also suffers from the cop story syndrome of neatly tying up all the loose ends in a tidy package at the end. It would take time and effort to come up with a way for the cop to get the bad guys while obeying all the proper rules and regulations of the law. It’s much easier to just get rid of them. When you only have 90 minutes to work with, that type of ending could be understandable. Maybe if the film had cut out a few of those “my dog won’t eat” or “my ex-wife won’t stop calling me” scenes, a more exciting conclusion could have been crafted.

I’m sorry, sir. This test confirms it. He’s a bad dog.

Ultimately, Night Passage is just like the majority of franchised telefilms like the
Jane Doe series or the never ending string of Mystery Woman films. There’s really not enough depth to the premise or the characters to sustain an ongoing series, so instead you get a 90 minute quickie where the plot is wrapped up quickly and neatly.

If Jessie Stone were on your television every week with a bottle of scotch in his hand and some insults on his tongue, his shtick would get tired fast. With the telefilms, you get about six months in between your Jesse doses and his act stays a little fresh. Night Passage is inoffensive entertainment that won’t insult your intelligence nor strain it. Besides, it’s better than watching that same episode of Law and Order: SVU you’ve already seen twenty times.

The Package

Sorry, there’s no director’s commentary or behind the scenes beard trimming featurette with Tom Selleck. You don’t even get a fold-out poster of a shirtless Selleck in his bestial glory. All you’ll get for the trouble of clicking the “extras” selection are four DVD previews for such Seinfeld – Season 8, Catch and Release, The Pursuit of Happyness and Driving Lessons.

Pornography in Rockland County, NY? Not on my watch.

Seinfeld and The Pursuit of Happyness are such little known gems. It’s a good thing these previews were included for all two people who haven’t heard of them. Putting previews of movies that people who liked Night Passage might find interesting just wouldn’t make sense at all. Putting the previews of the other Jessie Stone movies would just be ludicrous!

5.5 out of 10