Everybody loves cable TV's stunning heroines: Holly Hunter of Saving Grace, Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer, Mary-Louise Parker of Weeds, Glenn Close of Damages. Now it's time to start loving Mary McCormack of In Plain Sight (Sunday, 9 p.m., USA). McCormack begins her second season as Mary Shannon, a U.S. marshal involved with the witness protection program in Albuquerque. Mary is not a happy person. Her family is screwed up, her job is a bitch, and she feels driven to solve all the world's problems. She certainly solves her share of them, usually with a sarcastic flourish. What a mouth on this woman! She's rude to friend and foe alike, a wise-ass with no use for B.S. You'd hate her if she didn't hate herself so much.
In this week's episode, Mary manhandles a pot dealer who enters the witness protection program to testify against two murderers. In a subplot, she's tailed by a department psychologist. Mary baits this poor woman, making up crazy stuff "so you'll have something to write about." But the shrink has her number. She realizes that Mary's troubled family life has turned her into someone who needs to make everything right for everybody. "Cut yourself some slack," she counsels Mary.
Good advice, but I hope Mary doesn't take it. Her pain is our pleasure.
I Want to Save Your Life
Saturday, 9 pm (WE)
In this new series, a guy who calls himself the Diet Doctor engages in "undercover health interventions." He sneaks into people's lives, observes their eating habits and encourages them to straighten up. That's right, folks - we're going to have to work that much harder to hide our stash of Hostess Cupcakes.
Law and Order: Criminal Intent
Sunday, 8 pm (USA)
Jeff Goldblum joins the cop series as Det. Zack Nichols, an eccentric who left the force after 9/11 to find the meaning of life. He returns to partner with Det. Megan Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) on a case involving murdered rock musicians. One is stabbed on the street, another pushed down an elevator shaft in a Brooklyn loft. Nichols suspects a fellow rocker who might have wanted to bump off the competition.
Goldblum does his thing: the mumbled fast talk, the low-key quirkiness. He's as charming as ever, but he doesn't really work in a straight-faced cop show. In place of urgency, he offers irony, and irony never put anyone behind bars. I'm a bit worried that TV criminals will run wild on his watch.
Tuesday, 9 pm (PBS)
"The Released" shows what happens to mentally ill inmates when they leave prison. Over half of the 700,000 people released each year are seriously disturbed, and most of them have only two weeks' worth of medication when the gate slams shut behind them. In the absence of long-term psychiatric treatment, the ex-prisoners often do crazy, violent things to random people, like you or me.
We all need to advocate for a change in the system. And after being scared out of my wits by "The Released," I recommend doing so in the house, via telephone, with the doors and windows locked.
Wednesday, 9 pm (TV Land)
This dating series puts a 40-year-old woman in charge, deciding among 20 young studs. The Cougar introduces Stacy as a woman who knows a thing or two about life, with a successful business and four kids. The show tries to contrast her maturity with the youthful passion of her twenty-something suitors. The problem is, no maturity ever appears. Stacy seems to believe she can find true love with a bunch of goons while the TV cameras roll - how mature is that? The elimination ceremony is called a Kiss-Off, and it involves Stacy smooching with each and every stranger. There's a fine lesson for her daughters, eh?
Plus, not one of these guys is worth the risk of infectious disease. They fight, show off, make obnoxious comments and, worst of all, strain to be romantic. One of them recites a sub-Hallmark poem: "How will you taste me if I'm not what's on your plate / How can we conceive that our feelings could ever wait?"
Stacy admiringly murmurs, "Shakespeare!" But the poet interjects, "It wasn't Shakespeare. I wrote it myself."
Thanks for the clarification.