CliqueClack TV

In Plain Sight – Was the Marshal Marshall joke supposed to be funny?

A glimpse back at when Mary met Marshall leaves a lot to be desired. Allison Janney starts a guest arc.

- Season 3, Episode 2 - "When Mary Met Marshall"

My sense of the universe being on solid footing was put to the test last week when Ivey seemed to agree with me about season two of In Plain Sight leaving something to be desired. Because I certainly felt it, which led to my surge of excitement at the news that the show had put a new show runner in place, something I had hoped would restore the structure of the series to its season one form.

I’m not so sure that jettisoning characters is the way to go, especially someone as enjoyable as Dershowitz (Todd Williams), but I certainly wouldn’t say no to an exit by Brandi (Nichole Hiltz) and Jinx (Lesley Ann Warren) … Mary’s family has become nothing more than an annoying nuisance, and literally cleaning Mary’s house — so long as Peter Alpert (Joshua Malina) can stay — would serve the show well.

As quickly as it comes and goes, In Plain Sight does a really good job hooking us into the opening story that sets up that week’s witness plot. Last night’s one-and-done really got me going, although the excitement does wane quite a bit once the characters enter WITSEC. I understand, because at that point the story is about something or someone screwing up their new lives, but I do want to commend the show for getting me into the plot so fast.

Because it doesn’t seem to be doing anything else right. That full clean over at the Shannon house? It’s only worthwhile if it includes Mary as well.

I was excited about getting a glimpse into how Mary and Marshall met. And I know that we were supposed to be wowed by how much, and also how little, Mary seems to have changed. But as I watched, all I wanted was for her to die. I kept hoping that somehow, magically, she’d die, even though I knew that she was still alive seven years later on the present-day show. And just so we’re clear on this, the current Mary is no better.

I didn’t review last week’s premiere, but I knew halfway through that episode that I was likely done with the show. Mary is completely insufferable, and making her omnipresent (those voice-overs, whether they’re new or not, are awful) has obliterated any enjoyment I once got from watching Marshall.

The one moment that I did enjoy, between both episodes, was 2003 Mary’s talk with Henry (Josh Cooke) about his coming to grips with the fact that it had been his uncle who’d ordered the hit on his parents. That was season one Mary, really connecting on an emotional level with her protectees. But if you’d blinked, you would have missed it. In all of season two I never saw it return, so there’s no reason to think it will as this season goes on.

It’s great that Eleanor (Holly Maples) disappeared, and it would be awesome if Jinx really is done for, but I can’t give Mary Shannon more of my time. I will tune in for her funeral episode, but that’s it for me. Allison Janney, if you still can, rethink your decision to play a guest arc on the show; you want to keep as wide a berth from this train wreck as you possibly can, West Wing reunion or no.

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Photo Credit: USA Network

7 Responses to “In Plain Sight – Was the Marshal Marshall joke supposed to be funny?”

April 8, 2010 at 10:26 PM

I will say this. I’ve always enjoyed your commentary on shows, even if I disagreed with the viewpoint or felt you were slightly harder on the stronger female characters. While I’d love to dissuade you, considering last year you seemed to increasingly dislike the show, I think this is a good decision. However, I hope CC continues to review it and I know xxx other would-be bloggers, including myself, would offer as well.

However, onto the show. The early Mary reminded me of the Mary in the pilot – overtly abrasive and obnoxious. I didn’t understand how the ‘softer’ Mary who currently cares for her clients could exist in the same shell, until her heart to heart with the mobster’s son. I always like how the show avoids offering platitudes to its victims i.e. last week when the wife freaked out about her ex-gangbanger husband, Mary didn’t say ‘he’s a good guy,’ she said they’d have to deal with the situation. Plus, when talking to the mob son the second time, she didn’t try to excuse or sugar coat his actions.

Part of me likes the sweeping of the old cast. At the same time, IPS found a great balance with all of the characters, so re-structuring the board seems unnecessary, but probably keeps things fresh.

I don’t know how I feel about AJ’s character. While I wonder if their entire acting budget went to hiring her and disappearing others :), I haven’t quite warmed up to her character as I did Eleanor (who served as yet another strong female foil from last year).

Anyways, viva le IPS and thanks for your time in the past -

April 9, 2010 at 12:15 AM

An — You’re very welcome to submit a guest clack as a review or anything else TV related anytime!

April 9, 2010 at 1:04 PM

An, thank you. I’m most appreciative of your sentiment, and I certainly hope you’ll keep reading. :)

I think the issue I take with a lot of female leads on TV today is that they’re made too this or too that, in an effort to proclaim that “women can too!” We’re always going to see a gap as long as we continue to maintain it. If we just let the women be themselves — Lilly on Cold Case is one of my favorite characters on TV, and though I don’t watch the show I know that Kyra Sedgwick’s phenomenal on The Closer — instead of trying to artificially make them something else, they’d all be enjoyable to watch … or at least as often as a male lead is.

I actually didn’t think back to Mary in the pilot, but I think you’re correct, which would mean that it’s the last two seasons that have mellowed her more than the preceding seven years. Maybe there’s something to that. But the moments where we see her caring for her protectees are just too few and far between for me, and she’s awful to everyone else in her life.

I think the ensemble cast was mostly bad last season, but I agree that the balance is necessary. Hopefully they’re reshaping the ensemble, and not shuttling the idea.

I will continue to watch, I think, but I’d be serving no one by continuing to review the show. But I too hope that someone else here (maybe you?) picks up the slack.

Thanks again! :)

April 15, 2010 at 9:46 AM

I thought the premiere was a mess, with the new team still slotting into position, and recurring characters written off with barely a mention. The tone was much darker, which muted the humor and personality of the characters, and the new writers seemed to want to give Mary twice as much dialogue as she ever had before. McCormack was spitting out the words so fast to fit them into a scene I could barely understand her.

This week was much better, although it still feels far different from season two. I loved the whole first meeting flashback. Don’t care for Pearson in the slightest, although it’s good that she recognized the extent of her own incompetence. I’ll miss Dershowitz and Eleanor a great deal, and Brandi’s obviously being set up for an overarching storyline, so she’s not going anywhere. At least, unlike her mother, she’s nowhere near the mess she used to be, and I appreciated the scene in which she and Peter refused to lie to each other any further.

Finally, Marshal Marshall Mann was funny in the pilot, and it was funny here. Though I always think of that line as if the Village People were singing it…

Oh, and dripping disdain for name-dropping POTUS in the first minute of an introduction was classic Mary.

If you no longer respect the show, Aryeh, I completely understand you not reviewing it any longer. It would be like me trying to write Stargate Universe reviews.

April 15, 2010 at 1:13 PM

It’s a shame, too, because I was really into this show in season one. But whereas many people fast-forward through Jinx and Brandi scenes, I’d be doing the same through Mary scenes if not for the fact that then there’d be no show to watch.

I might have enjoyed the flashback more if I could remember Mary that way from season one. But she’s mutated so many times since the pilot that it was hard for me to connect. Unfortunately our sparring will have to move elsewhere. :)

April 16, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I dropped it after S02E01. Usually we disagree on many shows Aryeh so I guess I should re-visit IPS again but wouldn’t it be nice if this was me having the right hunch about a show a little bit earlier, you finding out a little bit later (if not too late) and we both had something we agreed about?


April 16, 2010 at 6:21 PM

“Usually we disagree on many shows Aryeh so I guess I should re-visit IPS again” … Ouch! :)

Maybe this and Rules of Engagement is a sign that we’re turning the corner … except that 30 Rock still sucks. Oh well; I guess there’d be no fun if we agreed on everything! ;)

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