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August 28, 2015

In praise of In Plain Sight

by Allison Waldman, posted May 24th 2009 1:31PM
Richard Schiff In Plain sight
In Plain Sight has become one of my favorite TV shows. I didn't think that way last year, its rookie season, when the show lurched a bit to try and find balance between Mary's professional life as a U.S. Marshal in the Witness Protection Program and her dysfunctional personal life with an alcoholic mother, a troubled younger sister with a drug-dealing boyfriend, and an on-again/off-again relationship with a hot Latin minor league baseball player.

When it went well, it was very satisfying, but the show seemed to be struggling to find its tone. Well, this season is a whole new thing. Perhaps there were changes behind the scenes, perhaps the first year was about shaking out all those story strands and building a stronger foundation, perhaps it was simply the actors getting more comfortable in their roles. Whatever the case, In Plain Sight is now hitting on all cylinders.

The appearance of two former West Wing stars -- the same show in which Mary McCormack made her mark -- has added to the show. Joshua Malina is a semi-regular now, a potential new love interest for Brandi named Peter Alpert, someone she met at an A.A. meeting she was attending for Jinx. It's a character completely different from his roles on The West Wing or Sports Night, and Malina's a major plus to this show.

In a guest role last week as a tenacious New York rabbi with a penchant for detective work, Richard Schiff was superb. He was in New Mexico, horning in on Mary's protecting an Orthodox Jewish man who'd gotten involved with the Albanian mob. Despite the best efforts of Marshall and Mary to keep Avi Rosenzweig hidden, Schiff's character found him with a specific goal in mind -- to get him to divorce his abandoned wife so she could move on with her life. He was there to get a "get" -- the Hebrew term for the divorce. It was a very unusual story, one I've never seen on a detective/procedural, and it was fascinating because it was really about the characters, not the case.

There was also great dialogue. The back and forth between the rabbi and Mary crackled (was Aaron Sorkin doing some script doctoring?). Mary couldn't help but admire the dogged, determined New Yorker. At the end of the show, there was even a hint that he might return to help Mary find her long missing father. I sure hope so.

If you haven't been watching In Plain Sight, or you have and didn't think it was worth sticking with it, here's my recommendation. Try it again. It's getting better and better.

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I try to watch this show but this woman has too many problems. Shouldn't her mother and sister get jobs? Plus all the damage done to their house is not being repaired. Her life looks like an unmade bed! Tonight episode brought in still another relative...please. She has a difficult job, a dysfunctional family, and a home that looks like its been bombed! Clean it up a bit and it will be a good show.

June 15 2009 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that the show is starting to hit its stride. I was a little worried with the first two episodes of the season since I thought they were a bit shaky, but things have really smoothed out since then. Heck, I could even watch a scene with Jinx without my finger itching to hit the fast forward button.

I still kinda wish that they wouldn't spend so much valuable screen time giving all the B plots to Brandi and Jinx and would rather see a B plot given to Marshall, Stan or Bobby D, but they are far more tolerable this season and Brandi has even grown on my quite a bit.

May 27 2009 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
This Is Me

I've got to agree; I thought it was just another "quirky characters" USA show but I'm really digging it. Same goes for the House re-runs, and all the Law & Order flavors. My wife is getting me hooked on Burn Notice.

Beyond Discovery and History Channel, USA Network is pretty much what we watch when the TV's on. Feels a little odd, to be honest.

Now, if I could just get them to grab ahold of the British series "Midsomer Murders"...

May 25 2009 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stuman714 from Indy

Actually Jinx is played by Lesley Ann Warren, but you are on the right track......
This show has definitely hit it's stride this season, and not only is Jinx less obnoxious and finally showing signs of humanity within her as a result of her recognizing her disease, but Brandi is showing major signs of the same. And the cast and guests this season so far have not dissapointed and the West Wing reunion thing is working for me. Great actors and what seems to be better scripting is making for a much better flow. I look forward to this one even more now. Keep up the great work IPS!


May 25 2009 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with one caveat - I still can't get past Marshall and the fact that the actor is simply doing an imitation of the guy from Clerks (Jeff Anderson, I think is his name), you know ... the smart-ass guy at the video store, Dante's best friend. He sounds and talks exactly like him, and it can't be a coincidence. The actor on IPS must be trying to do an impression of the Clerks guy. And it drives me nuts.

But aside from that, it has turned out to be a pretty solid show. And the ep with Richard Schiff was really good.

May 24 2009 at 10:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

Mary McCormack "made her mark" on 'Murder One' almost an entire decade before she appeared on 'The West Wing.'

I was really surprised to see Fred Weller doing series TV, but he's great--although the writers need to find a pretext for him to do nude pushups a la his character in 'Stonewall.' He's older, but he looks like he's still in good shape.

May 24 2009 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, I tried to but can't watch it. I love love Mary McCormack, and love the character here but dislike the format of the show. It always seemed like they couldn't decide between a grittier "cop" show and a sensitive "chick" show. Plus the crap with her family was only worth fast-forwarding though, felt like a different show.

I wish the powers that be could truly find something worthy of Mary.

May 24 2009 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the Rabbi was awesome! I hope they bring him back. he was just hilarious!

May 24 2009 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What makes me tune in to In Plain Sight is the cast: they are all so great together and have been pretty much from the beginning. I'm especially like Leslie Ann Down's performance as Jinx. She got on my nerves a little in the first season, but this season Jinx's story has been so dramtic and well played.

Of course, we can't forget the chemistry between Fred Weller and Mary McCormack. Not sexual chemistry (but that is a part of it), but the chemistry between two partners. They are great together.

May 24 2009 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And hunky baseball player boyfriend makes me tune in!

May 24 2009 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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