Friday, March 19, 2010
In Plain Sight Returns With Season 3, a New Timeslot, and a New Showrunner
That's right, Mary's back! U.S. Marshals Mary Shannon and Marshall Mann return in Season 3 of In Plain Sight, premiering Wednesday, March 31, on USA at 10/9c. We finally get to see the aftermath of Mary being shot point-blank while trying to protect one of her more idiotic witnesses.
After the angsty, bitch!Mary segments we had to endure to the nth degree last season, a rewrite of the tone is definitely in order. We'll find out Wednesday if the changes imposed are for the better. I'm not happy about the timeslot change, as I enjoyed the one-two punch of USA's Law & Order: CI and In Plain Sight on Sunday nights. Now both shows will be up against heavier primetime contenders; In Plain Sight premieres against dramas CSI: NY and Law & Order SVU. Not sure this is the wisest course of action for a ratings win.
Two Cast Members Departing
E!Online reports two major cast changes for In Plain Sight. First, we'll be seeing a lot less of Mary's mother Jinx, played by Lesley Ann Warren. While In Plain Sight has always been about a balance between Mary's work and home life, last season got too mired down in the home drama. Jinx's current story arc also seems fairly played out, and changing her to an occasional guest star should happily tone down the shrill angst factor that was making In Plain Sight too much of a downer.
The other In Plain Sight cast member reduced to occasional appearances is Detective "Bobby D" Dershowitz (Todd Williams). I don't think Bobby needed to be in every episode, but I'm sorry to see his screen time reduced so dramatically. I thought they'd finally worked out a nice competitive working relationship between Bobby and Mary, and it makes sense that the marshals would have to have a good rapport with local law enforcement. Outside of plot concerns, it's also disappointing that In Plain Sight would cut down on the diversity of its cast.
Change in Tone
With new showrunner John McNamara (Jericho, The Fugitive), USA is also hoping for a change in tone that better suits the lighthearted nature of their other successful series. Thankfully it sounds like they'll be following more of the Burn Notice drama/action/dark comedy framework, rather than the camp Psych or Monk. Albuquerque Journal reports that In Plain Sight will be shot in HD, and In Plain Sight star Fred Weller (Marshal Marshall Mann) says director Charlie Haid is "setting a look for the whole season, and it's going to be a lot tighter and little more intimate and intensify the drama element."
While some fans have worried about rumors that In Plain Sight was going to be more procedural than character-driven, Weller insists McNamara has captured the tone of the show that's won so many viewers. USA network exec Jeff Wachtel also tells E!Online that In Plain Sight won't be getting a complete overhaul. "The original voice in this series belonged to David Maples, that's how we fell in love, and we will continue to respect and protect that voice."
Wachtel also clarifies some of the disagreements between the network and In Plain Sight creator Maples, saying that they were fine with dark humor, but Maples often wanted to go too dark: "David would want to end stories with a real downbeat cast moment. We would say, it's not necessarily a fairy tale, but we don't need to have everybody broken and bloody, crying on the floor."
What It All Means
This could be a very wise change for USA, and a good thing for the fans of In Plain Sight. USA has been successful by tapping into people's desire for good drama without making people despair over the state of humanity. While viewers may have liked the edginess of In Plain Sight, it became clear over the course of the last season that you can have too much of a good thing. Rather than being the tough, crabby and uncompromising cop we'd come to love, Marshal Mary Shannon had become angry, vindictive, miserable, and pretty much no fun at all.
If we can get back to focusing on the challenges of the witness protection cases, the banter between Marshall, Mary, their boss Stan (Paul Ben-Victor), and Eleanor (Holly Maples), and just occasional forays into Mary's personal life, In Plain Sight should have a lot of happy fans on its hands. If our favorite U.S. Marshals get turned into caricatures that get put into absurd situations and don't take anything seriously, then In Plain Sight could lose its core crowd and a lot of ratings.
Look out for an In Plain Sight season 2 marathon on USA in March, followed by the In Plain Sight season 3 premiere on Wednesday, March 31, at 10/9c.
Watch In Plain Sight on USA, Wednesday nights starting March 31, at 10/9c.
PHOTO: Mary, Eleanor, and Marshall evesdrop electronically on boss Stan; In Plain Sight season 2 finale screencap, c2009 Universal Media Studios, USA Network.