Monday, August 04, 2008

In Plain Sight, "To Serge With Love": What a country!

Haven't written about "In Plain Sight" in a few weeks, even though I've watched every episode (the above photo, in fact, is from last week's show; USA didn't have any photos from last night's). Time to get back into the swing, however briefly, just as soon as I find out if I get an employee discount to subscribe to the paper...

"To Serge With Love" was the strongest episode the show's done since the last one I reviewed, "Iris Doesn't Live Here Anymore," and what those two have in common is a plot about the mechanics of WitSec. There are so many cop shows out there that it feels both dull and wasteful when the show gives us generic murder mysteries spiced up with a touch of WitSec detail.

Now that the show has been renewed for a second season (USA announced it during press tour), I hope the producers come to the same realization that Josh Schwartz mentioned about "Chuck" in my re-freshman story and resolve to tell stories that only "In Plain Sight" can do, in a way that only they can. The banter between Mary and Marshall is always fun, but that's not going to be enough to keep me with the show if we come back next season and every episode is about Mary trying to figure out if a witness was killed randomly, or because of what they did before going into the program.

I should also give the writers credit for making Mary's sister sympathetic in the last few episodes. I'm still not sure what Nichole Hiltz and Lesley Ann Warren add to the show, other than allowing the producers to give Mary McCormack a break now and then. (See also the non-Dexter-related stories on "Dexter," or any scene on "House" where Hugh Laurie doesn't appear, though those are still usually about House in some way.) But at least Brandi has stopped being actively annoying, and her scene with the baby and the teddy bear was as affecting as it was shameless. (That's also a remarkably well-behaved and happy baby, considering what kind of parenting it likely gets.)

What did everybody else think?

12 comments:

Maura said...

I just can't find it in me to feel sorry for Brandi. Every time she does something good, she blows it by immediately doing something really stupid. If they're trying to redeem her, having her go after her sister's boyfriend isn't the way to do it.

Good episode. I agree that it was one of the best so far. I was starting to think that Marshall is Mary's assistant, so I was happy that he had a witness of his own. I'm also glad that Stan's not just a bumbling, clueless idiot, which was how it looked at the beginning of the season.

I'm still loving this show, but now that Mad Men is back on, everything else I watch pales in comparison.

JasonR said...

I really want to like this show more than I do.

The show has been repetitive/formulaic - not enough diversity episode to episode. As you have discussed, the family does not add anything to the show. Although I understand why they have them - there are not enough characters on the show (one of my peeves is the giant WitSec office with not a soul beside Mary, Marshall and the boss).

But most of all, I hate the almost bi-polar personality of Mary. She is perfectly capable of dealing with her witnesses, but no one else. She could make her life easier by putting her family and boyfriend in WitSec so she can magically learned to deal with them.

It is a freshman show, with a freshman performance. I am always looking for easy summer fare to watch so I will keep it up for now. . .

JustMe said...

She could make her life easier by putting her family and boyfriend in WitSec so she can magically learned to deal with them.
For the past few weeks, that's what I thought it was leading to - Brandi would get caught during the world's stupidest drug deal, offer to testify against her boyfriend and his partners, and she and Jinx would finally find out what Mary's job was as Mary handed them off to another WitSec marshall in another city. And they were never seen again.

That was a very quiet baby.

Lyle said...

My nitpicky side was a bit annoyed with seeing Mary's computer get hit with malware -- that's pretty bad security if she's allowed to plug in a flash drive without scanning it or using a machine that's not connected to the network... but that's just my personal issues.

Overall, though, agreed about the best episodes being ones that deal with the stresses of the witsec program.

pgillan said...

For the past few weeks, that's what I thought it was leading to - Brandi would get caught during the world's stupidest drug deal, offer to testify against her boyfriend and his partners, and she and Jinx would finally find out what Mary's job was as Mary handed them off to another WitSec marshall in another city. And they were never seen again.

That makes the most logical sense, but from the moment I saw the huge suitcase full of cocaine at the end of the first episode, my assumption was that what's-her-name would do something to piss off whatever dealer the drugs belonged to, and she would have to become one of Mary's witnesses (it makes as much sense as one of her witnesses becoming a pro-basketball player). Keeping the family at arm's length before reluctantly letting them get intimately involved is a time-honored formula, one that we're seeing play out in Burn Notice right now.

Anonymous said...

So I missed last week -- wasn't the coke thrown in the river? I was kind of confused there.

Otherwise I agree with a lot of the complaints. The office seems awfully understaffed, the family's annoying, etc.

I was impressed the network allowed the show to portray Lady Drug Dealer the way they did, hitting on Brandi and all. Even on cable, I didn't expect that, and I appreciated the show was allowed to go that way.

Alan Sepinwall said...

So I missed last week -- wasn't the coke thrown in the river? I was kind of confused there.

Brandi fished it out of the river last week. It was somehow both in the same place and undamaged. If there was an explanation for that, I was too busy going into a coma at the time to notice.

BigTed said...

I found the ending of this episode to be a real cop-out. By making the boyfriend such a total sleazeball, they were able to get rid of him without even trying -- so Mary and Marshall wouldn't have to continue dealing with the problem of two witnesses in the program dating each other.

Anonymous said...

maura - I disagree with what you said about Brandi doing something really stupid. I think she was really shaken by her experience with the drug dealers, and Raphael was the only person she could turn to for comfort, having deceived her sister so thoroughly.

There's no evidence she went to him with hanky-panky in mind. I don't think he would have taken her in if he'd thought she'd go after him. My two cents.

Good show. Good episode. Mary's infuriating.

Rich C said...

I really want a "Headlights" tanktop now...

dez said...

I like this as light summer entertainment, but could they at least get an actress who tries a little harder to keep the accent going? Jeez, that was distracting!

I don't think Brandi could ever be Mary's (or Marshall's) witness since she would need to be cut off from her family in order to be successfully "hidden." I'm kind of surprised they don't change the witnesses first names that often, either. Is that the way it is in real life and I've been conditioned by TV to believe otherwise?

Bobman said...

Not that I know anything about the inner working of WitSec, but I believe they usually have you keep your first name because it helps you to integrate / remember.

I agree with a lot of the comments, particularly " I want to like this show more than I do."