Instead of backing off on how many television shows I keep up with¸ I seem to be adding to my queue of favorites. This one I decided to give a chance quite on a whim and though it isn’t the best I’ve seen, its premise is unique to most shows and it is good.
Like most people, Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) makes lists. Unlike most people, her day job consists of protecting people. As a U.S. Marshal, Mary takes her job very seriously and is willing to go to whatever lengths to be sure their new identities are safe. Today that is the least of her worries. For her birthday, her baby sister, Brandi (Nichole Hiltz) is coming into town and because she is picking up a new witness in the WITSEC program, Mary sends her boyfriend (Cristián de la Fuente) to pick her up – a decision that just may not have been her most brilliant when Brandi refuses to get into the car with a guy she instantly takes a dislike to. Her attentions are soon diverted again when the son of one of her witnesses is found murdered in the middle of the Albuquerque desert. Along with her partner – the funny guy with a running commentary, Marshal Mann (Frederick Weller), Mary investigates the boy’s murder but finds that perhaps it wasn’t as a result of his father’s actions which put them into witness protection.
When the evidence leads Mary to believe that young Frankie’s companion – a local high schooler could have been the real target, she has to balance keeping his parents from taking revenge, the local police from finding out about her witness and scope out the suspects. Back home, Mary struggles with motivating her alcoholic mother (Lesley Ann Warren) and living in the same house as her sister who has secrets of her own. And then there is her boyfriend. With the help of Marshal (yes, his name is Marshal and he’s a marshal!), Mary is going to need all the help she can to keep it together on this birthday!
As television shows go, this one is unique in what its protagonists do for a living but that is where the best of it stops. In Plain Sight isn’t a bad show by any means but it is also not up to the usual expectations we customarily have of shows. I still found this show witty with wry humor without being the sort of comedy we normally experience. Over half of the first season is mediocre. It trudges along in a more lethargic manner thanks to its setting instead of being the kind of cop drama that features foot or car chases nearly every episode. Instead this one takes being set in the desert quite seriously and uses its characters to propel forward the stories.
Not since meeting Brenda Leigh Johnson have I met another character so wrapped up in her work. Mary is the heroine we hate to love – she is the Brenda of USA. If anything, Mary is even more closed-off to human interaction and connection that even Sedgwick’s Brenda. I really liked the characters even when Mary seems nothing but a cold fish. She is as gutsy as the guys but compassionate with her witness’s while she cannot put together a single successful personal relationship. As usual we get to know the reason behind her attitude and the past that made her into the person she is but not by the same standards as so many counterparts. This girl is all sass and wouldn’t be caught dead in the pair of designer heels her boss gets her.
Much of the writing and twists has been hashed out before making the stories less than unique but there are a few that stand apart. Taking a different approach there wasn’t a running undercurrent storyline the same as with every other television procedural. Brandi’s dilemma becomes a story thread but it doesn’t end on edge-of-your-set thrills but instead leaves us with a delicious sense of happiness – and a wide grin! It’s a finale that basically consists of a lot of emotion and crying at the Shannon household; one minute there is yelling and insults being flung left and right, and the next they are speaking in monotone voices and in respect. It is an unconventional finale to be sure but one that – no matter how irritating, made the show better for it.
(What to know: Rated TV14, there is plenty of sexual innuendo littered throughout the multiple episode span as Mary has quite a mouth on her. Meeting her sister reveals not only an immodest dresser but a girl who lets men use her, then her mother is nothing more than a drunk who plays at working but never does anything stable. There are about two or three scenes that imply sex [one features a nude Mary and her boyfriend in an “after” shot lying together discussing it]. It’s revealed that a man cheated on his girlfriend; Mary finds Marshal in the back of her car making out with an old flame. People are shot and killed and profanity is used along with exclamations of Jesus.)