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"In Plain Sight" A Fine Meth (2008)

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Season 1: Picks up from a terrible pilot, but still patchy, uneven and a bit unsure of what it is doing and who it is doing it for

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 November 2014

It seemed like a natural fit; a case-per-week series from USA which ran for 5 seasons. Generally I enjoy these shows for the easy and generally entertaining nature of them – not saying I stick with them all, but they are often easy on the mind at times. At first I didn't think I would make it through the first episode because the pilot was really all over the place. Mary was overly aggressive to the point of not being likable, other characters were less annoying but still a little irritating, and the whole tone of the episode seemed off – like it never really felt like it was trying to entertain. If I am honest, the main reason I returned for the next episode was because I wanted to see how on earth they managed to produce a show out of the mess of a pilot; although I could see that the bare bones of the show would appeal to USA's model for shows like this.

The first season proper did manage to get rid of the roughest edges from the pilot, but still it never felt like it totally settled down into how it wanted to work. At times it is goofy, at times it is really quite dark, at times it is an effect character drama with good female roles; this is not to say that the show can only do one thing – but rather that it has to make all the different bits work together and not feel fragmented. Looking episode to episode, the first half of the season almost feels like they are covering their bases; so episodes are mostly comical while others are more serious, either in a dramatic way or (for some reason) in a philosophical religious way. In terms of the spread of witnesses we also get everything from kids, to urban families, to drug dealers, con artists and so on. It does feel like it is trying things on to see what works, and it is an odd feeling to watch a show with such soft aims but yet such variability.

It settles a bit as it goes on, but even at the end of the season there was a lot of stuff that sat awkwardly with other stuff tonally and content-wise. In one 15 minute window it has an attempted brutal rape on the lead character, a tearful and bitter family confrontation, and also flippant comedic disregard for the internal reality is has made with these scenes; it is really weird and, while all the bits are actually pretty good, it is the fit that is strange. This same thing can be said of the cast. McCormack is not someone I really warmed to, but she is better than I expected (my main experience of her is in West Wing). She has decent range with both the comedy and the dramatic, but she needs better material to balance her character more. Weller is okay; not bland, but not the second-fiddle that this show needs. He improved a lot from the pilot and hopefully will again; I enjoyed him when he had more edge to his delivery. Ben-Victor seems to have been cast because you need that "older and putting up with his people because they get results" role, even if the show didn't know what to do with him to give him character; he is okay, but again the material needs to be better. Hiltz starts out not good but, despite the silliness of her part of the end plot, she is actually good. In particular she makes the so- so de la Fuente work as a character and performance – he was really poor in the pilot and seems awkward, but that subplot gave them more to do. Lesley Ann Warren overplays it – again, the script more than her choice I guess, but still, the good in the character and performance is rather overwhelmed by the hammy playing.

I think I will try to get the second season, but mainly it will be to see how it improves and what type of show it settles into being – because I cannot believe it continues like this and got 5 seasons. I do hope the characters and tones are blended better than here, and that certainly things like heavy sentiment or that terrible stuttering slow-motion effect, are all dropped or really reduced. There could be something here – that is clear from this first season; but just like it took lessons from the pilot and moved forward, to be better it will need to make more changes from this first season.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

When Mary is kidnapped, WITSEC doesn't know where to turn.

10/10
Author: ClayJeffries from London, England
15 February 2009

Jinx auditions for a play, about a hooker, when Mary crashes it with vital information. Jinx yells at Mary for "Not letting anyone have fun," thinking Mary was just trying to crash her audition. So Mary storms out teary-eyed. Then, Mary goes missing, and is no where to be found. The whole FBI is out looking for her, along with Brandi's drug filled suitcase. Where could she be? She is seen (in the teasers/commercials) in a basement with handcuffs on. Will Mary make it out of there alive? Who is the man behind the mask keeping Mary in the basement? What the heck is Chico thinking right now?! What were Brandi and Chico doing on the couch when Mary walked in? Find out in this emotional roller coaster of an episode.

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