Monday, June 23, 2008

In Plain Sight, "Trojan Horst": Mary vs. Pure Evil

Brief spoilers for the latest episode of "In Plain Sight" coming up just as soon as I play a few rounds of Stargate Defender...

Who would have thought that the episode with Dave Foley as guest star would be one of the less overtly comic episodes of the series?

Don't get me wrong: Foley brought the snark with his role as Horst, alleged man Friday to elite hitwoman Lola (but actually Lola him/herself), and the idea of Foley playing someone with a female alter ego is especially funny if you remember how good he used to look when he'd dress up as a woman.

But "Trojan Horst" was more action movie than farce, the show's take on the classic Howard Hawks/John Wayne Western "Rio Bravo," about three law men holed up with a prisoner while his posse tries to liberate him by force. (The original movie proved so adaptable that it's been copied countless times, including twice by Hawks and Wayne themselves.)

And on that level, with Marshall wounded but still fighting, and Mary doing everything possible to keep her partner alive without giving up her charge, the episode worked. I have some issues with the last act, as it seemed awfully easy for Mary to get Horst's people to drop their guns, and for Mary and Stan to catch up to Horst after getting Marshall some medical attention, but overall, I liked it. I'm just a sucker for scenes like the one where a bloody Marshall pulls himself off the ground and starts shooting at the bad guys to protect the far healthier Mary.

However, I'm more than ready to see Mary's family go away forever. That won't happen this season (I've seen an episode that airs in mid-July, and mom and sis are still in the picture), but lord does the show grind to a halt whenever we have to deal with those two.

What did everybody else think?

21 comments:

R.A. Porter said...

Maybe if we're really lucky, the season finale will finally deal with sis's box o' drugs. Mom and sis will have to go into witness protection far, far away and we'll never see them again. More screen time for Paul Ben-Victor and *everyone* wins.

As for last night's episode, it was certainly the best yet. Now all the producers need to do is get all the Kids to guest one after the other and this show could have a nice, solid run.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan. I know this is completely off topic, but I don't have anywhere to ask this: Have you been watching the Rescue Me minisodes? Any chance you'll blog about them?

Chris said...

I really liked the coda to the show, with Mary sitting in the hospital waiting room with "Vondas" from The Wire.

When she was with her boss, she was upset, but not crying and the two of them were in their work roles of knowing each other, supporting each other, but not really sharing.

Then, her family shows up and Mary immediately begins crying, and crying hard. At work, she has no emotions, because that's what makes her good - but away from work she can, if only occasionally, express herself.

That alone didn't make the scene great. Rather it was the boss who saw Mary start crying and immediately became uncomfortable. As the shot pulls away, Mary is crying in the arms of her mother and sister, but the boss has his hands in his pockets and is staring at the floor, unsure of what to do with himself.

The two of them can be friends as long as no real emotions are shared. This doesn't make them any less friends, it just means that is what their relationship is like. It struck me as being a very true observation.

I was seriously thinking of giving up on this show before this episode, but I think I'll hang around for a little longer, especially with the minute-long Psych singing promo indicating we're only weeks away from it's return.

Chris said...

It should be "its'" - not it's - at the end there. That frustrates me.

Toby said...

Because of job considerations, I always have to watch prime time shows the next morning/afternoon. So I get the full benefits when a whole subplot is given over to Jinx and Brandi. Fast forward through their scenes and the commercials and I was done in 35 minutes.

This showed how vestigial these characters are; they should be cut away before they bring the whole thing crashing down.

Mac said...

Maybe Alan can Twitter the minisodes.

Here's the weird thing... I figured that Dave was Lola, and I was humming the song... but I didn't connect the dots between the two. My brain is weird.

Like Toby, I time-shift this show, so can fast-forward through the family suckage. Why is it here, exactly?

Anthony Foglia said...

A pretty good episode, but I wonder why they did it so soon. I think it would have been more powerful later in the season. We've only seen Marshall and Mary work three cases so far. If this was closer to the end, it would have been more powerful. Heck, make it the season finale and we'd be much more worried that Marshall would either leave or die.

This show isn't doing much for me. If it wasn't summer, I wouldn't be watching it. It's not bad, but it's nothing special either.

PS: Since someone else brought up the "Rescue Me" minisodes, I think you should give them a shot. The problem with last season was the melodrama, but these minisodes are all supposed to be humorous. They'll likely be merely scenes of the guys just bs-ing in the firehouse. Those were always the best parts

Bobman said...

I guess I understand why the showrunners think they need the family to break up the show - it seems like most modern procedurals like this have more than two main characters so they can split time to break up the story a bit, usually as just a break from the action. But it REALLY seems unnecessary in the case of this show; Weller and McCormack have enough chemistry to keep you interested, and the show balances the humor and action in their storyline enough that we don't really need the "comic relief" that the family is supposed to provide.

That being said, I'd be happy if they just got rid of the mother. While the mother and sister are both ridiculous parodies of real people, at least from the sister I get the feeling that she could pull it off given the right material; the mother is just such an over-the-top character that it's painful to watch.

Dani in NC said...

I agree with Foglia. I worry when a show brings out the big emotional episodes too early. The partner-near-death episode is one that you know is going to come up sooner or later. The fact that they trotted it out so soon makes me wonder if they have run out of ideas already.

As for the family, I am torn. I'm tired of procedurals where the viewer learns nothing about the cops' personal lives. However, Lesley Ann Warren's portrayal of the mother is grating. At least with the sister, the writers have given us a reason to be interested in her.

jimmo said...

I'm agreeing with Anthony Foglia as well, with the slight caveat: if it wasn't summer, and Alan wasn't blogging it, I wouldn't be watching it.

I'm stunned by how inept these US Marshals are at their jobs', as evidenced in this episode by four guns between two federal officers and 1) neither can hit their target(s), 2) they don't go for the wheels of the car as their assailants drive away. Maybe its a protocol thing- when fired upon shoot to kill, results be damned; but I sure would prefer my armed attackers not be able to drive away.

Aargh, I'm a sheep. Every episode so far, I'm driven to turn it off halfway through only to finish it later because I want to be informed when the blog posts hits. Such power you have, Alan, such power...

Anonymous said...

I watched the episode closely and I think some of you need to take a few things into account:

1) They are scuttling the pilot. Without any idea that they would be continuing, they filmed the pilot with broad strokes.

2) Her partner's speech about mutual protection was incredibly telling. As were her tears. And the "best friends" speech. It gives the writers to fill so much in now.

3) Her family is annoying as hell, but they are her cross to bear, and she treats them just like her charges. And they don't care that she cares. They just expect it. That disconnect between her work and her job will be damn interesting, especially as they start to look alike to her.

4) Her boss gave her room and seemed uncomfortable out of respect of her talents and their relationship. He chose to become invisible as she cried. She would have wanted that.

5) When she was dressed up in the prior episode as "whorey", I really think that her partner wasn't blown away by her tits as that he didn't want to see her that way. He just didn't want to see, and he was repulsed because he actually does love her in some way. He didn't want to destroy his idea of her. It is obvious that he loves her, and the writers aren't that cheap.

6) We all have relatives that embarrass us. God knows I have mine. I agree that they should move away from her immediate family, but at the same time when they showed up they were the "go to" perfect people and she could be weak. Even in front of her boss. That was masterful.

All in all, I like this show and I hope it lasts.

Bobman said...

I'm stunned by how inept these US Marshals are at their jobs', as evidenced in this episode by four guns between two federal officers and 1) neither can hit their target(s), 2) they don't go for the wheels of the car as their assailants drive away. Maybe its a protocol thing- when fired upon shoot to kill, results be damned; but I sure would prefer my armed attackers not be able to drive away.

So they can't manage to hit two almost stationary human-sized targets, and you expect them to hit a tire that's quickly driving away? You may have watched too many cop shows :)

Anonymous said...

Yawn. Has this show not been canceled yet?

Mary Ann said...

After being ambivalent about the pilot, I have overall been enjoying this show. I like the relationship between Mary and her partner, and the cases have been reasonably interesting. The flaw in the program, as Alan (and just about everyone else) notes, is the mother and sister. Even in this episode, where there were little moments where mom and sis got to be more than uninteresting, selfish, inept losers (Jinx comforts Mary at the hospital, Brandi is actually perceptive enough to realize that Mary is not particularly happy), their screen time would have been better spent on something else.

I find it hard to believe that Mary is Marshall's only friend.

Rachel said...

I find it hard to believe that Mary is Marshall's only friend.

Wasn't the line that Marshall is Mary's only friend? If so, big difference.

Bobman said...

Mary starts it off by saying Marshall is her only friend, and Marshall reciprocates by saying the same. Maybe he was just being nice.


BTW, during that scene, I totally expected a love confession out of him. As in, he wants a new job because he's in love with Mary and couldn't stand to work beside her anymore, blah blah. SO glad the show didn't go down that route.

R.A. Porter said...

@anon 6:19am: We do all have relatives who embarrass us. I, however, would not expect you to watch mine for 10 or more minutes a week. They're not entertaining, just annoying.

I don't think the writers should expect me to watch Mary's for the same reason.

amysusanne said...

I think it's possible that we're supposed to see Marshall as more well adjusted than Mary on the outside, but just as screwed up as her no the inside? Maybe? Whatever the case, this one worked for me, but add me to the list of people who wonder if it wasn't done a bit too soon. I enjoyed it (best so far and Foley was excellent), but I wonder what made them move forward so quickly. It almost seemed like a season finale rather than the fourth episode of a new show.

I haven't yet begun to actively hate the mom and sister, but I have hit the point where I'm completely bored with them and just want them to get on with it already. I recognize that, as someone said, they're the thorn in Mary's side that she has to deal with along with all of the other crap in her life (plus, they give the lead a little time off when they're off on their own), but I would prefer that we see less of them by themselves because they're just not that interesting.

dez said...

The only reason I don't FF through the scenes with the sis & mom is so I won't miss any clues about the drug subplot. The rest of their scenes are just painful.

But I did like the rest of this ep quite a bit, especially Foley's snarkage. And like others, I am puzzled as to why they brought out the "partner in mortal peril" so early. Hope it pays off soon.

Tom said...

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, actually. Mary McC is doing great work, sometimes being forced to rise above the material.

Loved Foley's guest role. Alan, great "NewsRadio" shout-out with the Stargate Defender reference.

Boli-Nica said...

For some reason I really, really like this episode. And it wasn't immediate, it grew on me after repeated viewings. Foley's lines are great: "another indignity at hands of the man". The tense on-going dialogue between Mary and Marshall that continues even as Marshall is shot is compelling. Even mom and sister at the end coming through to offer support works.