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Author Topic: In Plain Sight (USA)  (Read 3504 times)
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RC Score: +16/-0
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« on: June 07, 2009, 05:07:38 PM »

The USA Channel has been really doing it for me lately. As I've mentioned before; I watch very little television. But there was a time when that was not the case. Back in the day, when I worked a regular job and had a regular schedule I had my days; days of the week that were identified by the shows I looked forward to watching.

For several years now I have had no days. The only show I watched regularly was "Burn Notice" and that show is available at Hulu and it's own website. So if I missed it on the night it was shown I only had to log on to my computer to catch it later in the week.

Also, USA has been playing around with the idea of what a "season" is. Burn Notice, as well as several other shows, like "In Plain Sight" have two seasons a year instead of just one. This stretches the show out more throughout the year, but it also makes viewing the show less of a regular thing since there are two large time periods a year when it isn't shown.

I like this.

I've reached the point in my life where I don't want to be tethered to my television four nights a week for nine months out of the year eagerly awaiting an onslaught of new shows. USA gives me the freedom to choose when and how I watch thier shows and that means a lot to me.

Which is why I now, at least for the next couple months, have a night. Thursday night on USA is going to be "my night". Burn Notice, followed by "Royal Pains" a new show I don't feel comfortable reviewing yet (but I enjoyed the first episode) followed by a reshowing of the previous Sunday's In Plain Sight. Maybe.

All those shows are available on Hulu so if I get busy...

In Plain Sight has a very simple premise. Two intrepid U.S. Marshalls and thier supervisor handle difficult witnesses with comlicated past's, present's and often personalities. As the show says in the beginning "some are criminals, some are not" but all are interesting. I've often wondered what life would be like if I could just hit "reboot" on it and start over somewhere else as a new person in a new life. What would I do differently? What would I miss? This show explores these questions through the looking glass of Mary McCormack as Marshall Mary Shannon.

Yes she's hot, but she's also high maintenance. Actually, that's a massive understatement. She had daddy issues (dad abandoned the family when Mary was a kid); mommy issues (mom, played admirably by Leslie Ann Warren is a raging alcoholic who can't keep a job and is living with her), sibling issues (Mary's smoking hot sister, played by Nichole Hiltz, is even more screwed up with abandonment issues and bad men choices then Mary and her mom put together), and men issues (Mary's on again/off again boyfriend "Raph" played by Christian de la Fuente is the only real "Mary Sue" of the show; a semi-pro baseball player who may just be the most patient and perfect man alive, which of course just makes Mary afraid he will abandon her).

But as complicated and scattered as Mary's personal life is, it is the polar opposite image of her competent and professional performance at her job where she is the rock her witnesses need to get thier lives back on track. She takes risks, breaks rules and generally does whatever she wants, much to the chagrin of her supervisor "Chief Stan McQueen" (played by venerable character actor Paul Ben-Victor who I've been a big fan of since his stint on "The Invisible Man") and her partner "Marshall Mann" who are more big brother characters to Mary than anything else; amused by her antics, over protective and resigned to thier fate in dealing with her.

Add to this caustic mix the criminals and witnesses who come to WITSEC with all thier baggage and each episode becomes an entertaining mix of humorous anecdotes and human drama. And when mary's personal life and professional life intertwine, as they did with the previous season's ending episodes; the results are profound.

This show really packs a punch and despite the occasional formulaic episode the characters are fun and interesting enough to keep you entertained. The show is at its' best when it is character and dialogue driven and eschews the main plot paths. Most of the stories are somewhat predictable. This is television after all. But the people in the show are interesting enough to make it more than worth the time investment. You are watching not to see what happens to them, but to see how they react to it and how they speak and relate to each other. And the actors on the show make it work. A lesser cast would be lost without more clearly defined characters but these actors are given enough rope to hang themselves and they make monkey bridges instead.

Good stuff.

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