Pilot episodes are tricky. You do not want to judge a book by its cover, but with a new series that is all you can do, and it is difficult to know if you are more right than wrong. Sometimes a wonderful pilot is the highlight of a disappointing series. Sometimes a weak pilot is the shaky foundation upon which wonderfulness is built. Sometimes the viewer is blessed with the perfect pilot; an episode through which the viewer is introduced to a fully realized cosmos and taught how to participate in that cosmos. Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, and Supernatural are three series I think have prefect pilots (the BSG miniseries is technically the pilot for the series, but doesn’t really count for what I am talking about, despite its perfection). In Plain Sight will not join last ranks, nor will it be part of the first. Most likely this episode was a dull introduction to what will be a dull series.
The basic premise is that Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) is a U.S. Marshall working in the Albuquerque NM branch of the Witness Protection Program, and she may be a rock-star at her job, but she doesn’t (or possibly therefore doesn’t) have time for her alcoholic mother, druggie sister, and “fun” buddy who may want more. She has a friend/coworker with a desk next to hers who may or may not be her partner (their professional relationship was immensely unclear), but whom she treats like a lackey.
I think you can see where I am going with this: none of these characters are particularly engaging or sympathetic. As I have mentioned before, the high-powered-career-woman-with-messed-up-personal-life is a common character on TV (I think this is what I will write about next week), and Mary as yet has failed to demonstrate any individuality to distinguish her from her character type. The other characters are just too vague at this point to be evaluated in any way. All of the actors read like relative strangers, portraying very little ease with their own persons or relationships.
The bigger problem is that so far character is the focus of the show, in particular Mary, because regarding plot I don’t really see what they are striving for. Those in witness protection are not the primary narrative concern, despite the fact that in the pilot a young man in Mary’s charge is murdered and she forgets to take groceries to a young woman just placed in her custody. If Mary fails to be an interesting heroine, then her job needs to be interesting, but it seems that this facet of the legal system is not readily fruitful, at least from the enforcement side.
Furthermore, Mary’s voice over is more Grey’s Anatomy than Veronica Mars, meaning she spells out the metaphor for the viewer, rather than providing the viewer information and insight we otherwise would not have had. And someone decided that she should be constantly taking her jacket on and off. I have no idea why this was decided upon to be her personal quirk that discloses something of her personality, because it is unbelievably annoying and distracting, as if someone in the wardrobe department gave her a piece that doesn’t fit.
Judging by the pilot, In Plain Sight is its setting: dry. But what else am I going to do on Sunday evenings in the summer? Go to church?
The TV Girl
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- I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.