Sunday, June 08, 2008

In Plain Sight, "Hoosier Daddy": Patching things up

Spoilers for episode two of "In Plain Sight" coming up just as soon as I make a tuna casserole...

With Mary out of Albuquerque for most of this episode -- and therefore away from the family members who distract her from her job and drive her nuts -- this one was a bit straighter than the pilot. Sure, there was the "I can't believe you'd hit a girl!"/"You're no girl!" exchange I quoted in my initial review, plus Mary's reaction to finding One-Eyed Dan in her house, and the bulk of the mom/sis subplot was played for laughs (though it wasn't that interesting). But overall, "Hoosier Daddy" was more sincere than snarky.

Still, I liked it. For one thing, while some of the details were no doubt fudged -- the solution to the problem most of all -- the question of how to deal with something as relatively mundane as a family court issue within the context of WitSec was interesting. For another, I thought Mary McCormack played well with the kid, and after the "Look, I ain't going to church, and I don't have a bedtime" intro between him and his adoptive parents, I thought the story worked better on a more serious level. Wisecracking kid stories are really hard to pull off without getting annoying in a hurry, and so after establishing that Leo/Lonnie seemed like a clever operator, we find out that it's just a defense mechanism for a very damaged boy (one even more damaged than he realizes, because he's blocked out memory of shooting his mother).

I also appreciated that she let herself look so haggard throughout the episode to illustrate how exhausted Mary was from both family and professional obligations. (Most actresses either wouldn't want to wear such little makeup, or wouldn't be allowed to by networks/producers trying to sell their beauty.)

One note for next week: McCormack pops up late in next Sunday's episode of "Criminal Intent" for a fairly shameless "In Plain Sight" plug that includes Chris Noth asking the question "What's there to do in Albuquerque on a Sunday night at 10?" Unless you're a big fan of the Logan version of "CI," it's eminently skippable.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm generally a fan of Criminal Intent, so I'll probably check that episode out regardless, but your description of the scene does sound cringeworthy.

Mapeel said...

I think the promo with Goren bringing Mary a pie from NY wins the cringe-worthy award. Poor Vincent can't wait to get off of that sunny stoop. L&O is not in the same fictional universe as IPS and Burn Notice, so it doesn't work. Michael Weston should have brought the pie.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Guess people weren't too enamored with this one, given that the only two comments so far deal with the Criminal Intent plug.

Matt said...

I thought it was fine, but this reinforced my original impression that this is a less interesting and self-contained "Veronica Mars" with a wacky-family hijinks subplot in the background. (Though sister's cocaine trunk from the pilot seems like it's setting us up for something.)

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode. It could have been schmaltzy, but they managed to mostly dodge that bullet. I think they handled Leo's tough "son of a drug dealer" side and the fact that he's still just a ten year old kid pretty well.

I'm already bored with Mary's mother. She certainly didn't deserve her own storyline. At least not that one. The sister's trunk full of cocaine could prove interesting down the line, but even her character - the possibly criminally minded sister of a federal agent - seems a little cliched to me. I like the idea that Mary's family drives her crazy and is her biggest weakness. It humanizes her without turning her into a total sap. But they could have gone with less tired characterizations.

I think this is a show I'll enjoy even when it's less than stellar. I'm already sold on Mary and Marshall.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked this episode better than the pilot, but then again, I was never a big fan of Buffy or Veronica Mars which people mentioned in the comments for the pilot. One thing that I am is an Albuquerque resident, so I'll probably continue to watch just for the local aspect.

As for the Albuquerque setting, I have a couple of comments. First, it is almost NEVER over 100 deg here (as discussed in the pilot). We're at >5000 ft elevation, so it's not anything like Phoenix really.
And second, I think the filming locations in this show are much more
recognizable as ABQ than those used in Albuquerque's other new show, Breaking Bad.

Agnes B said...

I was a little wary of how the show was going to be when there isn't a mystery that needs solving. But all in all, I ended up enjoying this episode a lot.

I agree that the mom/sis storyline needs to be ditched or get more interesting very quickly. One-eyed Dan was pretty funny, though.

Anonymous said...

It is an enjoyable show, but it appears like it is going to be pretty standard issue procedural stuff, but more fun. I don't know how deep the comments can be about a show that is, by its very nature, so on the surface. Just like Monk or Psyche, it is a consistently enjoyable way to spend an hour, but once the novelty wears off, I think it will be a bit hard to come up with new and original commentary on this one every week.

But then again, I am a hate-filled cynic, so who knows?

Anonymous said...

Mary looked haggard? I guess there's not much hope for the rest of us then.

SMM said...

My biggest problem with the show is that it went to air without solving the central issue. Mary's JOB is keeping secret the identities and locations of people she's around all day. And yet, US Marshals in witness protection have no cover stories? No strategies to prevent outing themselves? Because given these two episodes, when asked a question their response is apparently a variation on the very tricky "no comment." In this episode, DOJ doesn't have a strategy for unavailable witnesses, except having a US Marshall admit on the record that an additional two people were in witness protection. (IRL a lawyer would guess what the judge would say to that, but this isn't a lawyer show.)

In Burn Notice, it feels like Nix has the inside line on spycraft with the voiceovers-- and they don't have to for a silly spy show, look at Alias. But this show, about someone who keeps secrets for a living, hasn't figured out thing one about keeping a secret.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mary looked haggard? I guess there's not much hope for the rest of us then.

I'm just saying that McCormack was wearing pretty minimal makeup during the episode, especially during the Albuquerque portions of it.

R.A. Porter said...

Finally catching up on this week's episode. The sour aftertaste of the pilot was still lingering and TheWife and I weren't ready for another helping yet. This episode was definitely better - though they need to ditch the family and give us much more Marshall. Hell, I thought One-Eyed Dan was more interesting than the mother and sister combined. How about more of him?

It was an okay episode. I didn't much like that only wise Mary thought the carbomb was a flushing action. Marshall should certainly have thought the same, even if the other marshals didn't. I know she's competent; I prefer shows that allow the supporting cast to be competent as well.

My only two real comments of note are completely devoid of substance:
- Nice mini-reunion for Invisible Man co-stars Vincent Ventresca and Paul Ben-Victor
- Mary and Marshall were wearing identical sunglasses. No biggie. But in the Burn Notice promo, it looked like Jeffrey Donovan was as well. Are these the new USA Network approved shades?

Anonymous said...

I just caught up on this one last night and like others here, I liked it better than the pilot. Marshall seemed more organically funny than forced, and I liked Mary's interaction with the boy.

@r.a. porter, if Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar show up in the same shades, then we'll know!