Haven't we been down this road before?
Last night USA Network pulled the wraps off their new series, "In Plain Sight." The show stars Mary McCormack ("The West Wing") as Mary Shannon, a US Marshal working in the witness protection program. Now, that's a new twist. Though we've seen witness protection in the movies and as weekly plot points on "Law & Order," I don't remember a weekly series devoted to this theme. The show is also set in New Mexico, which gives us a different dynamic and landscape than most other cop shows on TV right now.
The trouble with "In Plain Sight" is that it's trying too hard. Mary is the cliche cop on the edge. The one who disrespects everyone but expects to be respected herself and that bugs me. She has 'oh so clever' voice-overs and a nasty but witty comeback for everyone in her path. Her family is a mess, her love life is a mess and her boss looks like a character out of comedy, not a serious cop drama.
USA Network, here's a hint: tone this girl down a little and I might actually watch the show every week.
Right now the draw for me are the two men in Mary's life. Her partner, Federal Marshal Marshall Mann (yes, really) is a walking encyclopedia of trivial knowledge. More importantly, he's laid-back which takes the edge off of Mary's constant motion. Even better is Mary's 'friends with benefits' boy Raphael, played by "Dancing with the Stars" hottie, Cristian de la Fuente. Several shots of Cristian without his shirt made the show worth sticking with, even though Mary was annoying and the plot was confusing.
The pilot plot revolved around the murder of a boy whose family was in witness protection from the mob. Could have been a good detective story but it was so cluttered with Mary's personal issues and the relocation of another witness that I couldn't follow it all. Even after the murderer was named at the end, I still didn't get how she figured it out.
Mary's family includes one of my favorites, Lesley Ann Warren, as her perpetually drunk mother and Nichole Hiltz as her thieving, coke-snorting sister. Again I say, too much! I would have loved to see Mary compete against a too perfect sister and a Donna Reed mother, neither of whom understand her penchant for chasing the bad guys.
Ironically, there are two moments in the pilot that seem to indicate an understanding of their own flaws. In one, boyfriend Raphael gets on Mary's case for acting like she's the only one whose job is important. She expects everyone around her to drop what they're doing in order to help her out but she's not about to reciprocate in the slightest. Yeah, that's "In Plain Sight" in a nutshell. It's Mary's way or the highway because, after all, she's working in the name of justice (even though her work gets murderers new homes in nice suburban neighborhoods.)
The other moment comes from the local detective who is investigating the boy's murder. When Mary hits him with the typical, "hey, you don't know me," line. He responds with a long list of cliches that fit her perfectly. Apparently, Detective Dershowitz watches TV and he's seen it all before, too.
Check it out for yourself. "In Plain Sight" airs Sundays at 10 on USA. You can also watch the pilot at the official website which includes games, a fun Facebook application, and a sweepstakes.
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