The third season of "In Plain Sight" continues to stand apart from other crime dramas by delivering solid performances. In fact, "In Plain Sight" remains consistently compelling for more than a few reasons, but certainly the unique and varied circumstances that the characters face each week play a large part in why the show remains compelling. Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack, very convincing in the role) is a U.S. Marshall who works within the Federal Witness Protection Program (WITSEC), securing secretive locations for people who are - for one reason or another - in trouble and desperate.
Joined by her trusted partner Marshall Mann (Frederick Weller) and their boss, Stan McQueen (Paul Ben-Victor), Mary protects witnesses who move to Albuquerque by watching out for their well being. What keeps the show fresh is how each case is different, which forces Mary to have a different approach. Some characters are criminals who are sent into hiding, others testified in trials, while others are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When the show isn't focusing on Mary's work protecting witnesses, it turns to her personal life. While Mary's approach within WITSEC is to take charge, her home life is full of other kinds of stress. There's Mary's alcoholic mother, Jinx (Lesley Ann Warren) and her troubled sister, Brandi (Nicole Hiltz) who add depth, conflict and small glimpses of resolution to Mary's life at home. While the storylines are involving, "In Plain Sight" is also watchable thanks to the character depth, especially in regards to Mary, as she balances her personal life while fighting so hard and so passionately for people she believes in protecting. It's this balance and Mary's struggle to not become too involved with her cases that will continue to make "In Plain Sight" grow and develop more richly each season.
Season three brings some changes to "In Plain Sight." Those who are familiar with the show and appreciated it's complicated characters may be disappointed to find that season three is not quite as layered as before. Where seasons one and two found balance between Mary's work and home life, season three spends more time following Mary at work. Which means that Jinx and Brandi are featured less. Jinx starts to get back on her feet by moving out and Brandi leaves town for a bit, returning with their half brother Scott (Aaron Ashmore). Additionally, Mary doesn't come off quite as hard as she does in previous season, which may be partially due to the fact that her home life is a bit calmer.
Season two left off with Mary shot and Marshall trying to find out who was responsible. In season three premiere, "Father Goes West," Mary starts to adjust and get back to work after being shot, all while trying to piece together what happened to her. Donnie Whalberg guest stars as one of Mary and Marshall's witnesses who they suspect of returning to his old ways. Within the thirteen episode season, there are several standout episodes including "When Mary Met Marshall," that reveals how Mary and Marshall met each other. In "No Clemency For Old Men" Mary helps a recently paroled bank robber (Fred Ward guest stars) adjust to life outside of prison. Steven Weber guest stars in several episodes this season as FBI Agent Mike Faber. The pairing of Weber and McCormack works incredibly well here.
Despite changes to the third season, "In Plain Sight" is still dramatic and engaging, and Mary is still tough and capable. After all, "In Plain Sight" is a show about people being protected by the witness protection program, and their stories and relationship with Mary and Marshall continue to hold the viewer's attention. Viewers should start with the first two seasons before starting the third. There's a good deal of character development and storylines that would be missed by simply picking up where the other seasons left off. Overall, "In Plain Sight" works exceptionally well and proves there's still material to be mined in this crowded genre.
3-01 301 31/Mar/10 Father Goes West
3-02 302 07/Apr/10 When Mary Met Marshall
3-03 303 14/Apr/10 Coma Chameleon
3-04 304 21/Apr/10 Whistle Stop
3-05 305 28/Apr/10 Fish or Cut Betta
3-06 306 05/May/10 No Clemency For Old Men
3-07 307 12/May/10 Love's Faber Lost
3-08 308 19/May/10 Son Of Mann
3-09 309 02/Jun/10 Death Becomes Her
3-10 310 09/Jun/10 Her Days Are Numbered
3-11 311 16/Jun/10 The Born Identity
3-12 312 23/Jun/10 Witsec Stepmother
3-13 313 30/Jun/10 A Priest Walks Into A Bar
VIDEO: "In Plain Sight" is presented by Universal in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality throughout was generally very good, especially considering the show's TV origins. Sharpness and detail were very pleasing; while the show didn't appear razor sharp, it at least boasted good, consistent definition.
The picture did show some slight grain at times, but I'm not sure if this was an intentional element of the photography or not. Edge enhancement and pixelation were kept to a bare minimum, and the elements used seemed to be in excellent shape, with no visible wear or damage. Colors remained natural and seemed accurately presented, with no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones also appeared spot-on, too.
SOUND: "In Plain Sight" is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital 5.1. Surrounds do kick into gear at times to deliver occasional sound effects and mild ambience, but the majority of the audio is spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue, well-recorded effects and a full, crisp score.
EXTRAS: Commentary for episodes "Father Goes West" and "A Priest Walks Into A Bar" with Mary McCormack and Frederick Weller. The commentaries have a few quiet moments, but otherwise McCormack and Weller do a good job commenting throughout the episodes. The commentaries offer a few laughs, as well as some thoughts about the cast, the show, and a few inside tidbits. Worth a look for fans.
"Cast Interviews" with Mary McCormack and Frederick Weller. McCormack and Weller talk about their characters, the upcoming season, changes to the series, their personal experiences with the show and more.
Deleted Scenes included for several episodes. While none necessarily stand out as needing to be included in the episodes, they may be enjoyable for fans of the series.
Also included on the Season Three DVD set is a photo gallery.
Final Thoughts: Despite some changes to season three, including less focus on Mary's home life, "In Plain Sight" continues to offer smart writing and strong, engaging performances from a top-notch cast. Recommended for fans.