The final season of In Plain Sight is nearly at an end and the Paley Center for Media took advantage before the show’s swan song to salute one of the best USA Network shows that has been a fan favorite over its five-year run.
Rene Reyes, Director of Public Programs at the Paley Center, opened the evening welcoming the audience and introducing the night’s moderator Robert Lloyd, TV Critic from The Los Angeles Times. In short Mr. Lloyd paid In Plain Sight one of the kindest compliments when sharing that despite the show coming to an end in just a few short weeks, it has simply been “just as smart, rich and complex” as the best of the basic shows. He then introduced Jeff Wachtel, Co-President of the USA Network, who explained that the series was originally written for UPN – “that’s how long ago David Maples (the series creator)” wrote the pilot. Even then it was clear that In Plain Sight “was a special show” that is the “opposite of a traditional procedural since the most exciting thing in each witness’s life happens before they get into protective custody”. He continued that “because of that unique format each week the writers and the cast have had to invent a story that truly starts in a vacuum”. After giving credit where credit is due to the cast and crew, tonight’s episode entitled “The Medal of Mary,” the third to the last episode of the series, was screened.
After the thrilling episode, cast members Tangie Ambrose, Lesley Ann Warren, Rachel Boston, Frederick Weller and Mary McCormack took the stage, sharing what it was like to watch an episode for the first time like they did that night or more so what it feels like to be outside their characters, if there would anything they would to do differently with Mary answering that she would want to “redo it” or joked that she wonders “how (does) my hair look?”
Mr. Lloyd then stated that they are finished with all of the episodes and he wondered what their reactions were to the very first script (the pilot) with Mary sharing that “I thought it was written for me; it was spooky” because Mary Shannon was so similar to her. “I thought it was moving and I just loved it so much”. Fred said, “I thought it was amazing. I was auditioning for four pilots a day (during that time) and they were all pretty much the same except for this one”. When asked what were the qualities he saw in Marshall Mann, Fred stated (he) “was a complicated character; a geek with a gun. He seemed like somebody who could kill (if he had to) and then cry about it”.
Lesley Ann then shared that she was taken by David Maples’ vision and understanding of where Jinks (her character) was going even from the pilot. She also loved the description of Jinks: she was “55 but looked 45 and dressed 25” and “you don’t come across (a) multi-varied, complicated women” like that on TV so I was thrilled (to play that part)”.
For Tangie and Rachel, they both came into an already tight-knit group so they were asked what was their experience coming into that; did they feel welcomed (in the fold)? Rachel shared that “it (was) an absolutely extraordinary cast and I was a fan of the show before I came onto it so it was a little intimidating because they (pointing to Fred and Mary) have such an amazing relationship and (my character) arrests Mary’s sister in the first episode, gets shot and ends up in an ambulance with both of them in my first week. But they are amazing actors so it was a plus to be there”.
Tangie then shared that “Delia and Tangie were going through the same experiences together. Delia wanted to work for WITSC (while) Tangie wanted to work on In Plain Sight. Delia wanted to get along with Mary Shannon (while) Tangie wanted to get along with Mary McCormack. And then we both found out at the last minute that we (were) coming back the next year and then we both (wanted) to show that we had been working over the summer and were more grounded and feeling comfortable as a team so everything that you saw on the show that Delia was feeling, Tangie was feeling it too. Except the real Mary is a lot nicer to Tangie than the Mary on the show”.
The cast was then asked if they were able to do any research on their roles with Mary sharing that “we did as much as we could because the reason the WITSEC program works is because the marshals are never allowed to talk about it. (They take) lifelong oaths to never talk about it”. Needless to say, they could only garner so much information on their own; but Mary and Fred both joked about their technical advisor who was on set, obviously, to direct them and give them advice on how to portray their characters, but he too could only provide so much information. This turned into a comical conversation with Mary and Fred interjecting jokes about the lack of advice from their advisor with Mary sharing, “we just don’t know what we’re doing”.
The subject of Mary’s real-life pregnancy being written into the show was then discussed with Mary stating that “USA were really champs (as) I found out I was pregnant the day before I left for Albuquerque to do the (fourth) season so the scripts were (already) written; and I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was pregnant, (but) my husband talked some sense into me and I called Jeff Wachtel (to give him the news)”. As it turns out, Jeff thought (her pregnancy) was “a perfect opportunity for the kind of character development you (would) want to see in season four”. She further joked “that’s not why I got pregnant, but it did help my character. For a character who never felt maternal and never really liked to be around children, it was a wonderful opportunity for stories”.
The evening then had to come to a close with audience members getting a chance to ask questions of the cast, including one questioner joking about Fred’s turn as a drag queen in a recent episode with Fred sharing that “I don’t think that I’m my type, but it was great fun to do”. He went on further, stating “I have respect for anyone who spends a lot of time in high heels”. Several audience members also thanked the cast (and, in essence, the show) for being on location in Albuquerque, making the city as much a character in the show as their characters. The cast was tight-lipped on giving away spoilers to audience questions on whether Mary and Marshall would end up together or not; but the cast did seem intrigued by an audience member’s question about the possibility of a “reunion” movie, showing where all of the characters are in their lives after the show is officially done. Let’s hope that USA was listening to that one.
In Plain Sight will air tonight at 10/9c on the USA Network.