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Review: 'In Plain Sight' on USA has promise

"In Plain Sight" is a new twist on the cop drama, involving WITSEC, the government agency that hides the good, bad and unlucky who have one thing in common: Someone wants them dead.

The saving grace so far for this new USA Network effort (from the first three episodes viewed) is in the casting. 

As lead character Marshal Mary Shannon, Mary McCormack is blasé, blunt, seemingly bored, and most definitely always bothered.  McCormack is such a good actress she gets away with Shannon’s parade of bad behavior.

Shannon is dazzling in a sexy Tom Boy way and unaware of the effect she has on most men.  Her ”take me as I am” attitude combined with her sardonic wit and confidence is catnip to men not used to such a self-sufficient long-haired and legged creature.

Same can be said for her childlike, parasitical alcoholic mother Jinx, (ageless Lesley Ann Warren), and her sister Brandi (Nichole Hiltz),  a puerile, lost little minx crashing at Mary’s home in Albuquerque toting a suitcase full of blow from back East. 

It was clear by the third episode the writers intend to flesh out and make Brandi’s sub-story more compelling with less histrionics.  Hopefully the same will be done for Lesley’s Jinx.

The new USA series, premiering June 1st at 10 pm, has a compelling cast of supporting characters; mindful I suppose of the network's mantra of "Characters Welcome."

There is a nice triad of sexual tension building between über competent Mary and three hot male characters that dote from afar; the exception being a fetching Cristián de la Fuente as Rafael.

Let’s talk about him for a minute.  I have a theory this show (based on the three episodes I was sent) will appeal much more to women than men.  There is a scene where Cristián opens his front door, shirtless, sweaty, and perfectly sculpted to an appreciative Mary, his girlfriend who cannot commit. 

His scenes were low key but showed he can be humorous, tender and hopefully the producers will continue to exploit his incredible physicality.  Delicioso. Muy. Verdad.

The other male energy in Mary’s life is Fred Weller as Marshall Mann; he is the antithesis of Cristián, a geekier sex symbol who is a Renaissance MacGyver – he loves Mary but keeps the relationship tense with his back and forth repartee with Mary revealing their closeness and admiration for each other.  Weller is written as cryptic, arcane and verbally nimble, and is delightful in all his scenes.

The last sexual “Shannon” wild card is the dark horse of Bobby D., (Todd Williams) pun intended. Bobby is an African-American detective with the last name of Dershowitz, who has perfect symmetrical features and killer biceps; he too is sniffing around Mary’s door.

The biggest critique I would suggest to the writers is to back off on the bitter Mary angle and cop show cliches; give her (and us) more soul and some insight as to why Mary has such a negative outlook, especially when it comes to men.

The case loads are all unique, interesting in that these people in the program aren’t all the Paulie Walnuts stereotypes.  The show explores the modern ills and fallout of gang violence and the quandary of having to put into protection frightened minors, as the Marshals attempt to recreate a life for perfect strangers in foreign settings.

Kudos to casting again for the guest stars for "In Plain Sight" that sees Kathrine Narducci ("The Sopranos") and Wendell Pierce ("The Wire")  in the first and third episodes, respectively.

The writers have a great premise, a stellar cast and some deeper and meatier scripts to deliver before we see the show hum the way it should.  The promise is there.

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