"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Plain Sight: Hoosier Daddy

Overall, a very good episode from Mary and Marshall as In Plain Sight settles into the kind of show it's going to be. Far less frantic than the pilot -- which in retrospect looks like a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth -- this show dealt with one main issue and it was a touching one at that. The story starts 18 months earlier when Mary's assigned to place an 8-year-old boy who's seen drug dealers kill his mother in Witness Protection, which is virtually impossible unless she can find a family in the system who are willing to take on that responsibility. I was stunned that she pulled it off, and when we were back in the present and we see little Lonny -- now Leo -- enjoying a perfect life with the Billups, I was skeptical. The adoption seemed too good to be true. Leo fit right in, taking care of the baby. Were the Billups for real? I thought there had to be something wrong, but it wasn't. I was just suspicious. It turns out there was a reason to show Lonny/Leo in such a happy family.

While he's having a happy family life, Mary's continues to be a disaster. Jinx and Brandi are just caricatures. How long has her mother been living there? I'm told it's three weeks for Brandy since she's come from Jersey (the New was dropped by Mary). I loved Mary telling them both to get jobs and contribute or else. It was about time, but I'm still wondering about Jinx...has she been living there all along and Mary's only now asking her to get a job?

The job she gets is a Mary Kay Cosmetics like gig, Dana Dean Cosmetics. "I need $2500 to get started." If I were Mary, I wouldn't have done it, but here I see evidence of just what a softy Mary really is. She writes on her car-pad, "Transfer $2,500 for Jinx." She's a good daughter, but is Jinx any kind of a good mama? The answer, no. In a scene that's a complete anachronism, Jinx dons a hot pink business suit and starts going door to door to sell the cosmetic. Nobody sells door to door anymore, do they? Of course, after one $10 sale, Jinx is done. She's ready to celebrate and goes to see one-eyed boyfriend for nookie. When his dog eats her sample case, her DD career seems over. Her lover says he doesn't love her enough to cough up $2,500 to replace the samples.

Meanwhile, Mary learns that Lonny's drug-dealer dad back in Indiana -- who has not been indicted -- is petitioning for custody of his son. Mary and Marshall, and a stuck up attorney from the DOJ (Department of Justice) have to fly Lonny back to Indiana to face a judge. Holed up in a big house with other marshals, it's like a big sleepover. Marshall wears funny pajamas, Mary comforts Lonny when he has nighttime fears of facing his Dad again. Good moments, especially more insight into Mary's real heart. She's doing this job because she cares.

The best scene in the show is when the courthouse has to be evacuated. It's a great action sequence; to flush Lonny out of the building, a car is blown up in the parking lot. The evacuation commences and in the crowd, Mary races to stop Marshall from taking Lonny out in the open. Turns out the evacuation exits are public information and the perfect way for the bad guys to rub out Lonny. They have a sniper rifle trained on the kid. Mary yanks him to safety just in time, then they race to get him into a government SUV and out of harm's way.

By this point in the episode when Lonny asks Mary about her gun, a Glock, she realizes Lonny has blocked out the truth about what happened the day his mother died. He used his father's gun to shoot the drug dealers but shot his mom instead. Vernon, the dad, still wants his son back. Mary won't let Lonny return to him and his dangerous life. She tells him, "You better make your peace with that," and I see her steely determination. But she also gives him photos of Lonny in his new life.

In an ending that was just a little too sappy/happy, the judge rules in Vern's favor, but he renounces his rights so Lonny can stay with the Billups. Then on the tarmac back in New Mexico, Lonny/Leo returns to his new family, but Dad is there, too. He's going to join WitSec, give evidence against the Cruz brothers, and have some kind of contact with his boy.

Other Points of Interest

The show had that time shift from the first scene to 18 months later. Hard to get into the time shift, but it's a necessary element to the storytelling.

How did Mary get a plain name like Mary when her mom is Jinx and her sister is Brandi? What? She named herself? In the episode when she's forced to use the alias Sarah White, Mary doesn't think she can pull off a Sarah!

Poor white trash background? You have to wonder about the Shannons. When Jinx and Brandi want to win over Mary's good favor, they do it with tuna casserole. Love the line, "With Velveeta and potato chip crust?"

Not so good line, "What's that game called, Texas what-em?" The smart ass kid is a TV cliche. On the other hand, I liked when they showed his sensitive side. He wonders if his Dad will think he doesn't love him anymore.

When protecting Lonny, Marshall gets tough at the courthouse and shows his bad-ass side. See, he's not always laid-back.

Where did Brandi get the cool red convertible? It was a Mercury Comet circa 1965. I love cool cars, but they're also a TV cliche. Everybody seems to have some kind of vintage wheels. Don't the producers know how expensive it is to keep a car like that? Also, where did it come from? Mary drives the crappy Ford Probe, Brandis visiting from Jersey, and Jinx has nothing...

Does WitSec really use a private jet? Looks like a lot of tax payer dollars to take a kid to Indiana and back. Marshall and Mary couldn't have protected him on a commercial flight? I think they could have.

Mary doesn't even mention Raphael. Are they on a time out? She could have left a message on his machine, couldn't she?

Stan is a waste of time. He does nothing and yet he's Mary and Marshall's supervisor. No wonder they don't consult with him about their operations. The only thing cool about Stan is his last name - McQueen.

When is Mary going to get wise to Brandi's drug use and her calls to a boyfriend who's clearly a criminal?

No comments: