The si­lent wit­nesses liv­ing a dou­ble life

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

AMONG sev­eral dra­mat­i­cally un­sat­is­fy­ing mo­ments of con­ve­nience in Baz Lurhmann’s Aus­tralia is the mat­ter of the griev­ing process for a cer­tain 10-year-old, who loses his mother in shat­ter­ing, trau­matic cir­cum­stances. Shortly af­ter­wards, the young fel­low is curled up on his bed in a ball of loss and mis­ery, but is back to his for­mer grin­ning self in a trice. All that’s re­quired is a verse or two of Some­where Over the Rain­bow , war­bled by Nicole Kid­man, and it’s as if his mother never ex­isted.

Some­thing sim­i­lar oc­curs in this episode of In Plain Sight , a sum­mer con­so­la­tion prize of a pro­gram about wit­ness-pro­tec­tion op­er­a­tives. You know the drill: a wit­ness has to tes­tify in a mur­der trial, which puts the wit­ness and their fam­ily in jeop­ardy. So the au­thor­i­ties give them money, a roof over their heads, new iden­ti­ties in a new town, and every­one hopes for the best. It hap­pens here, it hap­pens ev­ery­where. And it’s not a bad premise at all for a tele­vi­sion se­ries.

In the open­ing scenes in this episode we see a young boy play­ing in­no­cently in a fam­ily swim­ming pool. Alerted by raised voices, par­tic­u­larly his mother’s, he creeps into the house to in­ves­ti­gate. His mother is shot dead as she runs to­wards him, arms wide. He hollers twice in hor­ror, and the scene fades out. At least the mak­ers of In Plain Sight have the grace to put up a ban­ner say­ing ‘‘ 18 months ago’’ in th­ese early scenes, and a ref­er­ence is made to his on­go­ing night­mares.

While In Plain Sight has its at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing feisty op­er­a­tive Mary Shan­non ( Mary McCormack), who gives her su­pe­ri­ors no end of sassy mouth, the pro­gram seems un­sure, in this episode at least,

Pro­tec­tors: Fred­er­ick Weller and Mary McCormack from whether it Housewives wants to be Des­per­ate or Law & Or­der: SVU. When Mary’s boss dumps the wel­fare of the boy into her hands, she pleads for mercy. ‘‘ Stan, I suck with kids,’’ she con­cludes.

‘‘ You suck with grown-ups, too,’’ of­fers her long-suf­fer­ing part­ner Mar­shall Mann ( Fred­er­ick Weller). The boy has re­cov­ered enough from his un­ex­plored grief to be­come what Amer­i­cans call a wise-ass. See­ing his po­ten­tial foster par­ents through a two-way mir­ror, he wit­nesses them pray­ing. ‘‘ Oh God!’’ he ex­claims. ‘‘ What kind of po­tato-eyed have you set me up with?’’

But it’s life at home for Mary that pro­pels the show into a dif­fer­ent or­bit. Her freeload­ing mother keeps her awake at nights by hav­ing sex with strangers; and her freeload­ing sis­ter is, well, freeload­ing.

It’s hard to be too amused by their des­per­ate an­tics when moth­ers are be­ing shot in front of their sons in the main char­ac­ter’s day job.

It’s never easy to be all things to all peo­ple.


Ian Cuth­bert­son

In Plain Sight

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