Who Writes In Plain Sight?

Another outstanding series from USA Network is In Plain Sight created by David Maples, a writer who got his start writing for Rugrats and Home Improvement.

He's the creative genius behind the show, and he's written and produced several episodes, even appeared in the first as an airport cop. You'll see his wife Holly Maples as Eleanor Prince, the new office manager who is more than able to stand up to Federal Marshal Mary Shannon's bitchiness.

The dramatic series stars Mary McCormack as Federal Marshal Mary Shannon with WitSec, the Witness Security program, and Fred Weller as her partner Marshall Mann. Poor guy, stuck with being Marshal Marshall Mann. Weller carries off his role with aplomb and has become one of my favorite characters. He's smart and articulate to Mary's "I can out-man any guy here."


Mary Shannon is a U.S. Marshal in the witness protection program who spends her time relocating federal witnesses. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mary works with her partner, Marshall Mann. Their assignment is to place criminals and innocent witnesses into new lives and then make sure they don't screw up the government's efforts on their behalf.

Cast in the parental role to her boozy, insecure mother and her spoiled sister, both of whom put the dys in dysfunctional, Mary financially supports them both, bails them out of trouble, and generally has no life because of them. Somehow though, she finds time for gorgeous boyfriend and pro-baseball player Raphael Ramirez.

The Cast

The regular cast is rounded out by stellar acting from Leslie Anne Warren as mom Jinx Shannon who uses booze to camouflage her fear and insecurity; Nichole Hiltz as Brandi Shannon, the black sheep sister who hooks up with any guy who gives her attention; and Cristián de la Fuente as Raphael Ramirez, Dominican pro baseball player and Mary's boyfriend.

Paul Ben-Victor is the boss Stan McQueen who is tasked with keeping Mary in line. Holly Maples as Eleanor Prince, widow of an FBI agent killed in the line of duty, is the new office manager. She and Mary are like oil and water, but she can more than hold her own. She's Stan's love interest, or would be, but she's scared to care after losing her husband.

Last season which was its first, the characters were established in their ordinary world. Mom boozed it up and cried and whined a lot. Sis was with a meth dealing criminal boyfriend. Then they both moved in with responsible Mary, into a house she'd just bought. As the episode progressed, you saw that Mary was the one who'd always taken care of them.

Enter Rafael who takes care of Mary's physical needs. He'd like to do more than that, but she's as prickly as a cactus in a New Mexico desert. That's the other thing about this show. It's not set in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. It takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. How refreshing that Hollywood has discovered there's something in between the coasts.


The series is an interesting archetype role reversal in that Marshall is the touchy-feely character who's smart, articulate, and communicative. Mary is the tough as nails macho character who leaps without looking and thinks with her ballsy attitude.

In Plain Sight is also a show where every character has plenty of room to grow so you see character growth arcs from everyone, with Marshall being mostly the same from episode 1 to the end of season 2. He's such a nice guy that I have a feeling we just haven't seen his demons yet. They're probably there because every person, real and fictional, has them.

The setting makes this show imminently watchable, and not just because I once lived in New Mexico. It's nice to see how other people live. Sometimes it's amusing to see Hollywood's interpretation of how other people in different parts of the state live. That's one reason setting is so important in books. With most television shows set on the east or west coasts, Albuquerque is a breath of fresh desert air.

Let's Talk About The Writers

You know how I feel about writers. Nothing exists without someone who puts the words on paper. In this case, the writers are David Maples (27 episodes), Brynn Malone (4 episodes), Jessica Butler (3), Alexander Cary (3), Constance M. Burge (2), Matt Ward (2), Lynne E. Litt (2), and John Mankiewicz (2).

Brynn Malone has writing credits for this show.

Jessica Butler worked with the production crew on this show and According to Jim. Her writing credits arefor this show.

Alexander Cary was a producer on Sacred Cargo in 1995 and a writer on that film, The Riches, and In Plain Sight.
Constance M. Burge has long list of credits as a Producer, everything from Savannah, Charmed, and Ally McBeal to The Starter Wife, In Plain Sight, Royal Pains, and Eureka. As a Writer, you've loved he work in the same projects as well as Ed, Judging Amy, and Boston Public.

Matt Ward has producer credits on My Name Is Earl, several credits as miscellaneous crew, including story editor, and writing credits for Talk Soup Lucky, In Plain Sight, and My Name is Earl. Lynne E. Litt has virtually the same credits as Ward.

John Mankiewicz has killer credits as a Producer with the most popular shows from the late 80's to present day. As a Writer, he's written for some of the most acclaimed series like Hill Street Blues; one of my favorites that was ahead of its time, Karen Sisco; House; and so many more with In Plain Sight being the latest in a long line of achievements.

Great Characters

The interesting thing is that Mary is really very good at her job. The even more interesting thing is that Mary discovers something about herself or learns how to deal with a personal situation because it has been mirrored by that episode's premise or story about the witness she's been assigned. Nice profound punch of truth. Nice bookending, writers.

Takeaway Truth

In Plain Sight is a wonderful show that will make you laugh, think, and probably tear up at some point.


  1. Too bad David Maples has been fired in a creative dispute with USA network. :(

  2. Nell, isn't that awful? I guess we'll see his wife leaving he series too.

    I fear with David gone the show will just become another forgettable procedural series.

  3. Amen! I want to see the second part of the season ender, the part the network has apparently dumped. Maples did story arcs, not overpasses to nowhere. I hope this isn't indicative of what will happen now Maples has been fired - I've been enjoying the show, characters, and location as is.

  4. Me too, ipsfan. Can't imagine why they dumped David Maples. The ominous "creative differences" usually means that some honcho didn't get along with Maples so he/she flexes her muscles and out goes the lesser PTB.