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Archive for Sunday, May 22, 2011

‘Stone’ sinks under its own weight

May 22, 2011

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Tom Selleck (“Blue Bloods”) returns for “Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost” (8 p.m., CBS), the third film in a franchise based on series of novels by Robert B. Parker.

“Stone” represents what may be the last of a breed. Made-for-TV movies have all but disappeared from the schedules of any network, leaving the quality movie field pretty much to HBO and PBS. CBS recently announced the end of its relationship with the Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise, a source of television films for decades.

Much like the Swedish “Wallander” detective novels, adapted for television and shown on PBS, “Jesse Stone” all but revels in the middle-aged malaise of its main character. Stone (Selleck) has recently been fired as the police chief of the small Massachusetts town of Paradise. He’s miserably divorced from a woman he can’t get over. He’s a stay-at-home drinker addicted to old movies (scenes from “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Mr. Smith Go to Washington” comprise about five minutes of this movie!) and he has a taciturn relationship with his cop-turned-therapist (William Devane). How miserable is Jesse Stone? He’s even convinced that his own dog doesn’t like him.

Jesse interrupts his brooding with spasms of activity, including freelancing as a consultant to a Boston colleague. But he only does that as a way to nose his way back into Paradise business and help his old partners (Kathy Baker and Kohl Sudduth) get from under the dead weight of their dreadful new boss.

Fans of the series should enjoy this joyless drama. But like the rest of the franchise, “Innocents” is burdened with a script that strives too hard for profundity and has too many of the characters speaking in the same staccato style. And it relies entirely too much on Jesse’s unrequited affection for that dog! It’s hard to count the number of scenes of that sad-eyed pooch, a melancholic touch that threatens to capsized the movie with unintended comedy.

• “Celebrity Apprentice” (8 p.m., NBC) reveals a winner scant days after its host announced, to the surprise of few sane people, that he would not be a candidate for anything.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Scheduled on two helpings of “60 Minutes” (CBS): drugs in the cycling world and mob informants (6 p.m.); an NSA scandal; Rev. Al Sharpton; and child labor on the farm (7 p.m.).

• An arctic winter approaches on part three of “Bears of the Last Frontier” on “Nature” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings).

• Artists from many musical genres gather in Las Vegas for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards (7 p.m., ABC).

• The National Geographic channel goes into speculative fantasy mode with “When Aliens Attack” (7 p.m.) followed by “Area 51 Declassified” (9 p.m.).

• “Masterpiece Mystery” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) repeats the 2010 adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express.”

• Ned passes himself off as the king on “Game of Thrones” (9 p.m., HBO)

• Richard faces a campaign crossroads “The Killing” (9 p.m., AMC).

• “Tornado Rampage 2011” (9 p.m., Discovery) recalls April’s extreme weather.

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