In Plain Sight

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PluggedIn Staff

TV Series Review

Who hasn’t occasionally dreamed of starting over? Who hasn’t, at some time, fantasized about taking on a new identity, career and wardrobe?

Since the early 1970s, the Federal Witness Protection Program has helped thousands of people do exactly that. Of course, the prerequisite for getting all this new stuff is knowing someone who wants you dead, because people who witness bad guys doing really bad things are in danger of becoming a murder statistic themselves.

That’s where U.S. Marshals Mary Shannon and Marshall Mann come in. In Plain Sight’s defensive duo lives in Albuquerque, N.M. But they travel all over the country to take endangered witnesses under their protective governmental wing, then bring them back to the Land of Enchantment, where witnesses can start anew.

Some of these people are innocents. Some are criminals who didn’t choose their friends wisely. But Mary is an equal-opportunity protector, even if she is (as one person describes her) “a snarky little smirk in a leather jacket.” Still, Mary works hard to get her charges up to speed—as she snarls, whines and mocks them behind their backs (and sometimes to their faces). Her witnesses don’t just get a new life; they get her, in all of her griping glory.

Mary’s not just hard on her witnesses. She hates following direct orders (and sometimes doesn’t). And hugging (with strangers, anyway). But with Marshall’s patience and steady help, the two best friends get the job done. Thanks to their chief inspector (Stan McQueen), office admin (Eleanor Prince), Mary’s on-again-off-again lover (Raphael) and her sister (Brandi), her life is even more complicated than the witnesses alone make it. And there’s a hint of more change on the horizon: Mary is newly pregnant after an interlude with Mark, another on-again-off-again lover.

Despite those flaws, Mary and Marshall serve their bevy of witnesses with unyielding fidelity. They don’t serve TV viewers nearly as well, however.

Cable’s USA Network has developed a reputation as a refuge for semi-clean, comfy crime shows—like Monk, for example. But if In Plain Sight is less objectionable than many other crime procedurals that litter the airwaves today, it isn’t in Monk territory. Instead, the show sports a modicum of violence, some terrible attitudes and quite a bit of bad language, including frequent misuses of Jesus’ name.

All in all, it’s enough for me to wish the program might slip into a witness protection program itself and spend the rest of its days in obscurity.

Episode Reviews

InPlainSight: 6122011

“Something A-Mish”

A young Amish housewife named Sarah witnesses the murder of an Amish man in Pennsylvania. Mary and Marshall take her and her husband, Yanni, to New Mexico, where they’re given new identities outside of their religious community. But the temptation of life unfettered from Amish regulation proves too much for Yanni, and he returns to the drug dealing and drunkenness he fell into during his teenage Rumspringa (a period of time when Amish youth are allowed to experience life outside the community). Meanwhile, Mary is exhausted, craving pie (even more than usual) and unable to stand the taste of coffee.

Prostitutes are shown wearing lingerie. We see a man shot twice in the chest by a biker clan, and, later, a dead man’s body. Language includes about a dozen misuses of Jesus’ and God’s names (the latter once paired with “d‑‑n”). Other language includes “h‑‑‑,” “a‑‑hole” and “d‑‑mit.” Several sexually oriented jokes are made. Mary’s growing chest is crassly mentioned several times before she learns she’s pregnant. Cocaine is called “booger sugar.” Two people are heard vomiting.

Mary utterly mocks Sarah and Yanni’s lifestyle and beliefs.

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