In Plain Sight

by Alan Rapp on August 28, 2008

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: In Plain Sight
  • tv.com: link

I was a little unsure of In Plain Sight when it began at the beginning of the summer.  The hard-edged main character, US Marshall Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) straddles the line between a hard-ass and unlikeable character, and in the first couple issues she leans more to the later.

I stayed around to see if the show would come together, and it did, at least for me, in its forth episode “Trojan Horst.”  Dave Foley guest-starred as the only witness who could identify a high-priced contract killer.  The episode brought other sides to Mary’s personality with the wounding of her partner Marshall (Fred Weller) and show the practicality of her no nonsense take charge attitude on the job.  The show not only helped fill-out the main character but also better define the business relationships of Mary’s life.

Over the course of the season the show mixed Mary’s work adventures putting new witnesses in the Witness Protection Program, and dealing with old issues which arise, and her unstable home life which includes her mother (Lesley Ann Warren), younger sister Brandi (Nichole Hiltz), and her on-again off-again boyfriend Raph (Cristian de la Fuente).  Mary’s pathetic life away from work helps explain her character, and her willingness to accept her mother and sister does give her a bit of a soft edge, but these relationships seem to always promise more than they end up delivering.

Since the writing on the show is uneven McCormack has to carry quite the load.  Although I like both Warren and Hiltz the dysfunctional family parts of the episode have been very hit-or-miss over this first season.  They screw-up and Mary is exasperated with them, rinse and repeat.  The character of Raph is also a bit troubling and his inclusion seems only to threaten the possibility of a romantic relationship/love triangle with Mary’s sister.

One of the few storylines which tied together the seaons was Brandi’s secret drug stash which came to a head in the season’s last two episodes, Stand By Me and A Fine Meth, which also showed the further dissolve of Mary’s relationship to her family and finally the possiblity of forgiveness.  How all these events shake-out, including Mary’s complicity in a drug buy, should give the show plenty of fodder to build on next season.

While I don’t think the show ranks as high as some of USA Network’s other original programming (Monk, Psych, Burn Notice) the show does have it’s own style and McCormack (even in hyper-bitch mode) proves here she can carry a series.  I look forward to season two, hoping that it will continue to improve and give McCormack a few better scripts to showcase her talents.

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