DVD Review: Second Season of USA Network’s ‘In Plain Sight’

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CHICAGO – “In Plain Sight” has not really built the loyal following of other basic cable shows like “Burn Notice” or “The Closer” and I wish the show would try harder to live up to its potential but it’s still wildy entertaining and features one of the better TV actress performances from Mary McCormack.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

The opening narration of “In Plain Sight” sets the stage better than I possibly could - “Since 1970, the Federal Witness Protection Program has relocated thousands of witnesses - some criminal, some not - to neighborhoods all across the country. Every one of those individuals shares a unique attribute, distinguishing them from the rest of the general population. And that is, somebody wants them dead.”

In Plain Sight: Season Two was released on DVD on May 9th, 2010.
In Plain Sight: Season Two was released on DVD on May 9th, 2010.
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

McCormack, star of “Private Parts, “1408,” and a Tony nominee, is perfectly cast as U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon. She takes what could have been a two-dimensional, stereotypical “tough chick” role and made it completely three-dimensional. Sadly, I feel like Mary took a bit of a back seat in season two as she was pushed there by notable guest stars like Will McCormack, Martin Landau, Laura Prepon, Joshua Malina, Richard Schiff, and David Denman.

Shannon works for the the Federal Witness Protection Program (also known as WITSEC), placing and monitoring people enrolled in the program. She spends her days protecting the lives of career criminals, murderers, liars, and the general scum of the Earth who warrant her hard work simply because they are now willing to testify. It’s not an easy job and the stress of it gets to Shannon and her partner Marshal Mann (Fred Weller, an actor who developed the most in season two, adding depth to a character that was often merely comic relief in season one).

Mary also has a flaky sister (Nichole Hiltz) and a troublemaking mother (Lesley Ann Warren). Paul Ben-Victor co-stars.

USA has developed a formula on shows like “Monk,” “Psych,” and “Burn Notice” and they’re not going to change it anytime soon. Their programs mix a “case of the week” format along with series-long character development. So, each week, Mary has to deal with a troublesome witness and problems in her personal life as well. It’s a great part and McCormack nails it.

“Burn Notice” took off in season two (and has flamed out a bit since) but I feel like “In Plain Sight” took a bit of a step back in season two. Some of the cases weren’t as well designed and the characters were a bit lost under the structure and guest stars. The writing still needs to find that balance between interesting weekly cases and characters we like watching week to week. Although the season ends strongly. It just sags a bit in the middle

The fifteen episodes of “In Plain Sight” are presented on three discs with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Each episode includes an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The eps look and sound good, but it’s odd that a show that more and more people will have watched in HD hasn’t been given the Blu-Ray treatment. DVD used to be a step up technically from original broadcast but with the increasing prevalence of HD, it’s actually become a step down. USA/Universal needs to start releasing their programs on Blu-ray. It’s starting to feel like double-dipping as they’re aware that hardcore fans will probably buy this one and a future HD release.

All three discs of season one include deleted scenes and, in a great move that didn’t happen for season one, the set includes commmentary tracks. Episodes with commentary include Executive Producers David Maples and Paul Stupin on Episode 2.2 “In My Humboldt Opinion,” and Stars Mary McCormack and Frederick Weller on Episode 2.8 “A Frond in Need” and Episode 2.9 “Who’s Bugging Mary?”

‘In Plain Sight: Season Two’ is released by Universal Home Video and stars Mary McCormack, Fred Weller, Nichole Hiltz, Todd Williams, Lesley Ann Warren, and Paul Ben-Victor. It was released on March 9th, 2010.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

Mary McCormack

Mary McCormack is such a fantastic under-rated actress. Not only will I watch anything she does, I will watch anything she tells me to watch, which is how I got addicted to Locked Up Abroad. Thanks Mary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ7r0fj-Y74

Rah's picture

I didn’t start watching

I didn’t start watching the show In Plain Sight until recently when my co-worker told me about it. I was really happy that I did see it because I adore Mary McCormack. She is just really funny to me and I’m happy that she is having another baby! I can’t wait to see more seasons of it. Be sure to watch In Plain Sight at DISHonline.com if you haven’t seen it. That is how I caught up on many of my favorite shows.

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