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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In Plain Sight: Who Shot Jay Arnstein

It was the best of In Plain Sight, it was the less than best of In Plain Sight. For starters, the only carry-over from the previous episode was Marshall's arm in a sling. Hey, what about his nearly dying and Mary's emotional breakdown in the waiting room? The lack of follow-through was stunning. Granted, this show isn't a serial, but I did expect at least a moment between Mary and Marshall that would connect back beyond her quip in the art gallery. It was too glib. Would it have killed them to have a moment? I can imagine a fight in the writer's room over this point and keeping it light and unemotional won.

I liked the case this week, although once again, is Witness Protection really this amenable? When art dealers with shady dealings Jay and Marcie are put into the program, Jay arranges for his mistress to also be WITSEC'ed. Are you kidding me?

Maybe this really happens all the time, but if so, why are my tax dollars paying for three people when only two are really in danger? It was funny, though, when Jay asked Mary to break up with Kay for him, taking his mistress out of the system so he could commit to his wife!

This is the first episode since the pilot to involve a mystery -- the title of the show, Who Shot Jay Arnstein? -- and it was great to see Mary investigating rather than just babysitting. I like her interaction with Bobby D. and the scene where they get caught in the gallery when it's torched was excellent. The snappy dialog, the danger element, it all worked. I loved that Mary couldn't unlock the fire door and after telling Bobby not to shoot out the lock, she does it anyway and it works.

Sherry Stringfield as Marcie was a plus. She's a familiar face -- ER, NYPD Blue -- and you automatically feel for her as the wronged wife. Also, she could have been the shooter because, after all, she's the guest star. But the thing about Sherry is she can play it soft and vulnerable, they let off a wicked line. When she realizes that Mary, whom she trusted as her handler and the person who helped her with Jay was in on the deception, she cuts Mary with a single word, "Liar."

The key to the plot was wood -- poplar versus cottonwood -- and it was cool that Marshall pointed it out. Like Monk or Columbo, Marshall is sneaky smart. The suspects, naturally, were fairly obvious, especially the artist. Why was he even at the gallery in the first place if he was banging Marcie and didn't want Jay to know? Then, on top of that, why did he make a scene by smoking and call attention to himself?

So once Mary puts two and two together, she trapped the killer. You didn't really think that was Jay in the hospital bed, did you? And don't you wonder about the killer coming up with a syringe filled with poison on short notice? How did she do that? Is there an all-night pharmacy that sells that item?

Maybe I'm over-critical, but the ending of the case felt rushed and too neat. Mary's voiceover was used to tie together all the loose ends more than to comment on the action. It should be more of the latter and less of the former. Still in all, I enjoyed the show.

One thing I will say for sure, In Plain Sight has earned a second season.

Other Points of Interest

Raph, or Chico as Brandi likes to call him, is back. His career with the Florida Marlins has hit a major roadblock now that he has a torn ACL. Mary sets him up in her living room until he can take care of himself. Mary's to busy to help, but in an ironic twist, Brandi becomes his caretaker. You mean she's not useless?

Marshall's prescription for Mary when she's pissed off -- pie. He then answers the phone, "House of Pie." Too bad they didn't say, "The Pie Hole," referring to Pushing Daisies.

Great voiceover line when Mary has to accept putting the mistress into the program, "Funny how mortgage payments and the desire not to eat cat food can get between a person and their principals."

"You're the glue that held us together," Marcie tells Mary. Mary's response, "Just call me Elmer."

Mary admits to Marcie that she felt bad about lying to her. Marcie's answer was choice: "Geez, I am so sorry. It never occurred to me that helping my husband cheat on me would make you feel bad. Wow, I must be a really selfish bitch!" Door slammed in Mary's face. Ouch.

Brandi finds the engagement ring in Raph's suitcase. Later, she wisely tells Mary that if she doesn't watch it, someone as great as Raph won't hang around. Was she showing an interest in him herself?

Mary looked really great in the little black dress. Bobby D tells her, "It's a good thing you're hot." Mary acts surprised like she doesn't know -- come on.

If Marcie and Jay were in the art business in New York and had to go into WITSEC because international art baddies are after them, why would WITSEC let them open another art gallery in New Mexico? Would that be a big flag?

It's about time a witness had the hots for Marshall. Kay was definitely intrigued with Marshall. He went all enigmatic on her, then explained entropy to her. Good Marshall stuff.

No Jinx this week. I didn't miss her. At least Brandi showed some humanity this week, but Mary's family is still the show's weak link.

Another weak link is Stan. This character is just a plot device. He just moves the story forward, that's it.

Liked the art class with the nude model, "What does he make an hour? Or does he charge by the foot?"

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