In Plain Sight
Format Drama
Created by David Maples
Starring Mary McCormackFred WellerNichole HiltzPaul Ben-Victor (season 2–)Lesley Ann Warren (seasons 1–2)Cristián de la Fuente (season 2)Todd Williams (season 2)
Theme music composer Jeff Beal
Composer(s) W.G. Snuffy Walden Tree Adams (season 2)Liz Phair (season 3)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 44 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) John McNamara
Producer(s) Oscar Luis Costo David Maples Paul Stupin
Location(s) Albuquerque, New Mexico
Running time 45–48 minutes
Original channel USA Network
Picture format NTSC (480i)HDTV 1080i
Original run June 1, 2008 – present
Status Airing


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In Plain Sight

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In Plain Sight is an American dramatic television series on USA Network. The series revolves around Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack), a Deputy United States Marshal attached to the Albuquerque, New Mexico office of the Federal Witness Security Program (WITSEC), more commonly known as the Federal Witness Protection Program. Shannon must find ways to balance her professional life of protecting witnesses, her professional relationship with her partner, Marshall Mann, and her problematic personal life. The show is filmed on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On July 28, 2010, In Plain Sight was renewed for its fourth and fifth seasons, to run in 2011 and 2012.The fourth season of In Plain Sight premiered on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 10/9c, where it aired for its first two seasons.

Development and production

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In Plain Sight was originally scheduled to premiere on Thursday, April 24, 2008, but USA Network held the series back when the WGA strike delayed production of the summer series Burn Notice. It made its debut on Sunday, June 1, 2008.

On July 21, 2008, In Plain Sight was renewed for a 16 episode second season. Production began in October 2008 and new episodes began airing on April 19, 2009. Following creative differences with Executive Producer David Maples, USA made the decision to use the season's fifteenth episode, the first part of a planned two-part season ender, as the show's season finale. On August 2, 2009, In Plain Sight was renewed for a third season consisting of 16 episodes. Although the previously planned sixteenth episode of Season 2 was set to be the opening episode of Season 3, the episode was shelved and replaced by a new opening episode, written by new showrunner John McNamara.

Series creator David Maples and co-producer Paul Stupin stepped down as executive producers at the end of Season 2, and were replaced by John McNamara as Executive Producer, but remained as consulting producers. Todd Williams and Lesley Ann Warren's roles were changed to guest star, and a retooling of scriptwriting designed to place greater emphasis on Mary's cases and less on Mary's personal life while retaining its character-driven storytelling. According to USA executive Jeff Wachtel, the shift in producers also reflects the network's desire that the show remain upbeat rather than overly dark.

The season was later reduced to 13 episodes when executive producer John McNamara took a leave of absence for medical reasons. The producer of Universal Cable Productions said in a statement released to the Futon Critic exclusively saying, "John Romano assumed executive producer responsibilities for the remaining episodes. Given the unexpected change, we decided to end the season at a natural spot -- with the surprising cliffhanger of episode 13."


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Main characters

  • Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) Mary is a capable officer, a nonconformist, often disrespectful of authority, and uninterested in typical feminine wiles. She has a soft spot for her witnesses that extends long past the time she should traditionally break ties. The product of a difficult childhood resulting from her father's gambling and mother's alcoholism, Mary has trust and abandonment issues that lead her to have difficulties with relationships. After her ordeals in the season one finale, during which she was kidnapped and almost raped, Mary has begun recuperating with her family as they approach their lives looking for a fresh start. Mary became engaged to her boyfriend Raphael in the season two episode "Jailbait". However, she often seems unhappy with the relationship and the engagement, and it is her feelings of uncertainty and unpreparedness about marriage that cause her fiance, Raphael, to call off the engagement in the season three episode "Coma Chameleon". There is evidence that she may have feelings for Marshall, her partner, and may even know about his feelings for her, though she does not know how to acknowledge them or even understand them. In the season two finale, Don't Cry for Me, Albuquerque, Mary is shot defending a witness living in a bad neighborhood and is in a coma at the end of season two. In season three, she has recovered and is back at work. At the end of season three she begins a relationship with FBI Agent Michael Faber. To her witnesses, she is known as Mary Shepard. McCormack described Shannon as "not a superhero" and "flawed and real."
  • Marshall Mann (Fred Weller) A fifth-generation Deputy U.S. Marshal. Marshall is Mary's partner, as well as her best friend, though recently has appeared to desire more than her friendship. In the season three finale, Marshall begins to tell Mary that she needs someone who challenges her, calls her on her B.S., gets in her face and makes her think, and is seemingly about to profess his love when they are interrupted by Stan, leading Marshall to walk away discouraged and heartbroken. He seems to know a little about everything: what Mary calls "useless information," and is rarely ever speechless. The only time this has ever happened was in the season three episode "Whistle Stop", when he discovered that Raphael and Mary had broken up, leading her to declare him "verbally impotent." There is friction between Marshall and Mary at times, often due to Marshall's cerebral approach and Mary's gut instinct, though both are extremely protective of witnesses and each other. Though Mary and Marshall have occasionally disagreed about the proper course of action regarding policies, Marshall has typically backed down after taking time to get a perspective and will adopt Mary's position if her cause is right—even when her attitude is not. Having bonded with Det. Robert "Bobby D" Dershowitz during Mary's disappearance, the two have become friends, now freely extending professional courtesies between their respective offices.
  • Stan McQueen (Paul Ben-Victor) As chief inspector for WITSEC's Southwest region, Stan is Marshall and Mary's boss. Stan is a flexible boss and stand-up guy, quickly backing up both Marshall and Mary when they hit trouble. He also appears to have had romantic feelings for Mary at one time, though this subsided after he tried to buy her a pair of stylish shoes. Stan likes to stick to official WITSEC doctrine as often as possible and is reluctant to bend the rules without authorization. However, doing so has mostly made his division above reproach and he enjoys a direct open channel to federal authorities in the Department of Justice. In recent episodes, Stan has made an effort to recreate the professional distance in his office, presumably as a way to shield his team from FBI fallout. He and Eleanor had an intimate encounter.
  • Jinx Shannon (Lesley Ann Warren) Mary's mother, who was abandoned by her alcoholic husband to raise her two daughters alone. Although she adores her daughters, she has never been a traditional, supportive, job-holding maternal figure. She recognizes that Mary is the stable member of their family, and this has inspired her to live up to her daughter's example and attempt to start over. Even so, she harbors a great deal of resentment against her strong-willed daughter, though this only comes to the surface when she is under great emotional duress. Firmly on the path to recovery, Jinx is slowly growing into her own woman apart from the conniving lifestyle she once enjoyed while being an alcoholic. Now on the path to sobriety, she still follows Mary's lead, but is slowly becoming more reliable.
  • Brandi Shannon (Nichole Hiltz) Mary's younger sister is very much her mother's daughter and the baby of the family. She lives in the moment, has a limited education, preferring to get by on her charms, and was involved with a shadowy man named Chuck. Despite this, she looks up to Mary and, at times, sees her as an example. She also tends to be the more mature figure in her relationship with her mother. Brandi is loyal to a fault, but is slowly developing a conscience independent of others' approval. Moved by seeing a young infant in the hands of a meth addict and a drug-dealing boyfriend, Brandi backed out of a drug deal initiated by Chuck so that child services would protect the baby. Later, once Mary has been rescued from her abduction (which was fallout from this decision), Brandi later admits privately that if she had known how the events would play out, she would have killed Chuck herself rather than let her sister come into harm's way from her actions. She is now dating a man she met in Alcoholics Anonymous, who later turns out to be a very rich man (Mary stated he "owns half of Albuquerque"). However, Brandi takes this information differently, believing that she is just "one of his girls" with him being rich and tries to act selfishly to have him break up with her. After he stays with her (even offering hang-over remedies), he states he hopes they can continue to date, to which she agrees. Mary's nickname for Brandi is "Squish." At the end of the third season, Brandi moves in with Peter and in the beginning of the fourth season Brandi informs Mary that she's engaged.
  • Raphael "Raph" Ramirez (Cristián de la Fuente) Mary's former fiancee. Commonly known as Raph, he played minor league baseball for the Albuquerque Isotopes until injuries forced his retirement. His relationship with Mary was complicated for a time when he becomes close to her sister Brandi. After Mary was kidnapped by drug dealers, Raph disposed of a suitcase full of drugs Brandi brought to Albuquerque, which Mary eventually discovers. When they become engaged, Mary tells Raph what she does, which proves difficult for Raph to understand. Raph has always been aware of Mary's doubts about marriage, which finally leads to his decision to call off their engagement.

Recurring characters
  • Peter Alpert (Joshua Malina) Brandi's new boyfriend and a wealthy businessman. Brandi meets him at an AA meeting where she pretends to be Jinx. Despite initially disapproving of Brandi's actions, Peter begins dating Brandi after she makes a determined effort to apologize to him.
  • Scott Griffin (Aaron Ashmore) Mary's half-brother. Along with his sister, Aaron is Mary's father's child from a later marriage Mary knew nothing about. Brandi goes in search of him, and brings him to Albuquerque
  • Detective Robert Dershowitz (Todd Williams) A homicide detective, known as Bobby D, who is occasionally assigned to cases involving Mary's witnesses. He has deduced that Mary is a U.S. marshal working for WITSEC, and doesn't hide his disgust for the branch of law enforcement that puts known criminals back on the street. This attitude has softened as Dershowitz becomes involved in cases associated with the marshal service's witnesses. While his rapport with Mary had been antagonistic at times, he appreciates the friction. After her disappearance, he and Marshall bonded during the subsequent investigation, resulting in a respect for the two marshals, even though he occasionally disagrees with the less savory part of their jobs. Currently, he is in a task force in Chicago.
  • Eleanor Prince (Holly Maples) The recently widowed WITSEC office manager. Both Eleanor and her deceased husband worked for the FBI. Eleanor's calm efficiency clashes with Mary's abrasive work style, but earns the affection of Stan and the admiration of Marshall. In times of emergency, Eleanor will utilize her connections in the FBI to assist with Mary and Marshall's cases, particularly ones that have dealt with Agent O'Conner's relentless pursuit of Mary and her family. Eleanor eventually leaves WITSEC to take a position as an analyst with the FBI.
  • Special Agent Robert O'Connor (Will McCormack) A New Jersey-based FBI agent now working in Albuquerque. He is in charge of investigating the murders related drug dealing in which Brandi was involved, and has relentlessly focused his investigation on Brandi. He has also become interested in the whereabouts of Mary and Brandi's father.
  • Special Agent Michael Faber (Steven Weber) An FBI agent who came in to convince his informant to enter WitSec. Despite their best efforts, the informant refuses their protection and gets himself into trouble. He tells Mary about his relationship his father who Faber tries hard not to be towards his own son. He leaves after asking Mary out on a date, which she declines. He returns when a witness is a key witness and co-conspirator in a nationwide mortgage fraud scheme which was operated by major gangs to raise millions for drugs and weapons. He and Mary get together at her house over drinks, building a short-lived relationship until he leaves Albuquerque again. At the end of the third season, Faber convinces a priest who witnessed the murder of a stripper to join WitSec. When Faber and Mary are on vacation at a hotel in Mexico, the two share a kiss.


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Since its premiere on June 1, 2008, In Plain Sight has aired 44 episodes originally on the USA Network.


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Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of In Plain Sight on USA Network.

The pilot episode of In Plain Sight attracted 5.3 million viewers, making it USA Network's highest-rated series premiere since Psych in 2006. It also outperformed the previous summer's debut of Burn Notice by 32% and the network premiere of Law & Order: Criminal Intent by 40%.

The second season of In Plain Sight debuted on April 19, 2009 ("Gilted Lily"), with overnight ratings of 5.1 million viewers.

The third season premiere was on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 10:00 pm (ET) and 9:00 pm (CT) on USA Network. The episode ("Father Goes West") had an overnight rating of 3.81 million viewers.

(in millions)
Season 1June 1, 2008 (2008-06-01)August 17, 2008 (2008-08-17)124.46
Season 2April 19, 2009 (2009-04-19)August 9, 2009 (2009-08-09)154.08
Season 3March 31, 2010 (2010-03-31)June 30, 2010 (2010-06-30)133.43

DVD releases

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On March 31, 2009, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released season one of In Plain Sight on DVD in Region 1. Season two was released on DVD on March 9, 2010.

DVD NameEp #Release Date
Season One12March 31, 2009
Season Two15March 9, 2010
Season Three13March 29, 2011


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2009NAMIC Vision AwardsVision Award - DramaNominated
Prism AwardsDrama Series - Mental HealthNominatedEpisode "High-Priced Spread"
Prism AwardsPerformance in a Drama EpisodeNominatedMary McCormack
2011WICT Awards Scripted Drama/Comedy Series or SpecialWon

See also

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  • Karen Sisco (2003–2004), ABC series about another independent-minded female US Marshal with a father (rather than a partner) named Marshall. The series was re-aired on USA Network, including three episodes which were previously unaired.

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