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TV Review: In Plain Sight
In Plain Sight
Starring:: Mary McCormack, Fred Weller, Leslie Ann Warren, Nichole Hiltz, Cristian de la Fuente, Paul Ben-Victor
Created By:: David Maples and Paul Stupin
Premieres: Sunday, June 1 at 10 p.m. ET on USA
USA’s new series, In Plain Sight is a dramedy that follows Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack), a U.S. Marshall who works in the Witness Protection Program keeping Federal witnesses safe. Alongside her partner, Marshall Mann (Fred Weller), Mary has to keep tabs on her witnesses and help them adjust to the program as they prepare to testify. The witnesses range from violent criminals to innocent people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The short and sweet description for Mary is that she’s tough and at times, kind of a bitch. That said, she’s not unlikable as a character because her intentions are usually good. I almost want to compare her to an adult version of Veronica Mars except instead of having a kind, supportive dad to model herself after, Mary’s stuck with a flaky mom (Leslie Ann Warren) and a freeloading sister, (Nichole Hiltz) who’s caught up in some kind of drug dealing scam with her deadbeat boyfriend.
Mary cares about the people she’s assigned to protect and that comes through when she’s working with them. But due to the nature of her job, she often has to be a bit of a hardass. An example of this is displayed in the pilot episode when she pelts a guy in the junk with a bar of soap to get him to take her seriously. She doesn’t mess around when it comes to her job and from what I can tell, it takes a lot to intimidate her. This is part of what makes her character so much fun to watch and a lot of the credit has to go To Mary McCormack for the way she pulls off the role.
After getting to see the first few episodes of the season, I started to pick up on the format of the show. Each episode opens with the introduction of the new witness. We’re shown whatever it is they see/experience that results in them having to enter the Witness Protection Program. In one episode, it’s a kid who witnesses his mother getting shot. In another episode, a young girl and her boyfriend (played by Veronica Mars star Percy Daggs – yay!) are victims of a drive-by shooting and have to go into hiding because the shooter is part of a violent L.A. gang. Throughout each episode, Mary has to keep the witness safe and help them acclimate to the program, which can be quite a difficult task as not everyone takes to leaving their lives and identity behind so easily. It also seems like each episode has some kind of twist or reveal related to the witness. While it’s not really Mary’s job to solve crimes, when it comes to protecting her witness, sometimes that just comes with the territory. The reveal serves to add a bit of closure to the witness’ story.
The relationships in the show are all off to a good start. Things seem totally platonic between Mary and her partner Marshal but who knows if that’ll stay that way. There is also some chemistry between Mary and Detective Dershowitz aka Bobby D (Todd Williams). Bobby D and Mary bump heads occasionally whenever her job interferes with his (he’s a homicide detective).
Mary’s in a romantic relationship with Raphael (Cristian de la Fuente). Raph’s looking to firm up the whole commitment thing with Mary but she seems mostly interested in keeping it casual. Between her work and dealing with her unreliable mother and sister, it’s not all that surprising that Mary might not have much left to contribute to her relationship with Raph.
That about covers the characters and the general premise. All in all, I thought the pilot episode was pretty good but the show really hit its stride in the second and third episode. Perhaps it’s because at that point I already had a general idea of who all the characters are. Not only did I feel comfortable with the characters and the format of the show by the third episode but I also found myself wishing I had more to watch by the time it ended.
If there’s one thing USA always seems to get right with their shows is great characters. In Plain Sight has no shortage of those. Another thing I love about USA series is that they’re perfectly suited for the summer TV season because they’re only moderately serialized. Each episode for the most part, stands on its own but at the same time, the character development goes at a slow, even pace, giving regular viewers a bit of a payoff for investing their time. During the summer, when most of us probably spend less time on the couch, show’s like Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice are the perfect TV fix. Whether you watch the episodes as they air or DVR them and watch them later, they’re entertaining shows that don’t require the viewer to tune in every week in order to enjoy each individual episode. In that sense, In Plain Sight is a perfect addition to USA’s summer line-up. What’s more, I have a feeling that I’m going to look forward to watching new episodes of this series as they air each week.
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