When USA announced that In Plain Sight was picked up for a third-season run of 16 episodes, many people glossed over the fact that the show's executive producer and creator, David Maples, would no longer be running the show. And as it turns out, creative differences between the creator and the network are not just changing the writers' room, but two stars are leaving the show as well.
How and why did this all happen? For the first time, exclusively on E! Online, both Maples and USA's president of original programming, Jeff Wachtel, talk about why they are parting ways and what USA has in store for In Plain Sight.
Read on for the debate, find out which series regulars are being demoted, and then decide for yourself who's right or wrong...
These Characters Not Welcome?
One of the biggest changes planned for the series is the departure of Lesley Ann Warren (Jinx, the mother of Mary McCormack's character) and Todd Williams (Albuquerque P.D. detective Bobby Dershowitz). The two actors are no longer going to be In Plain Sight series regulars. However, Wachtel says we will see Warren and Williams again on a recurring or guest-star basis: "We're not picking up Lesley Ann and Todd for their deals, but we are absolutely planning to have them back in some capacity."
The Second-Season Finale
In Plain Sight's second-season finale, airing this Sunday, finds Mary McCormack's character in grave peril. The finale was originally scripted and shot as a two-parter. However, the network is only airing part one.
• Departing show runner Maples on the finale: "With all two-part episodes, the first part has a cliff-hanger to bring the audience to the second part. We are ending the season with the first part of the two-parter. It's a very dramatic episode; it has a lot to do with the personal relationships with our characters and much of that resolution is in the second part that is not going to be aired. Had I known that we were not going to air the 16th episode of the season, it's not how I would've chosen to end our season."
• Network executive Wachtel on the finale: "We're going to be off the air for eight or nine months, so it's really important that the finale sing. It needs to leave the audience wanting more and wondering what's going to happen next. The two-parter that David wrote had an odd rhythm. The big cliff-hanger was the second-to-last episode and then the last episode was kind of melancholy. It was just a little droopy, and we didn't think it was the best way for us to go out. It was more important for us to serve the audience with an 'oh my gosh' moment than a contemplative and sad postmortem."
Season Three and Beyond
As for next season, look for some additional changes, but there is some conflict over how far-reaching those changes might be. Maples says the show may be moving away from personal stories.
• Departing show runner Maples on season three and beyond: "I think they probably want the show to be more procedural, spend more time with witness protection and less time with Mary's personal life. We're talking a matter of balance—what's the dominant flavor of the show going to be?"
• Network executive Wachtel on season three and beyond: "What's the network [motto]? 'Characters welcome.' Story based in the characters. I don't think anyone has ever accused Monk of being plot-driven. I think story matters. At no point was this supposed to become a character procedural, and I'll say officially that all great shows are a balance between characters and story."
Tone and Humor
In Plain Sight has been seen as a dark comedy, blurring the lines between the dangerous side of the witness protection program and the comedic relationships between Mary, her partner Marshall (Fred Weller) and her family, but there is some dispute about, well, what's funny.
• Departing show runner Maples on tone and humor: "From the beginning there has been a push-and-pull between myself and the network as to 'What is the tone of the show going to be?' I don't think my idea of how this show is best served is in keeping with their brand of television. I think we have always been a much darker and purely dramatic show than they have had their best success with, and what they're most comfortable with, and how they define their brand."
• Network executive Wachtel on tone and humor: "Yes, we always loved the sense of humor that the show has, [but it's] the difference between allowing it to be light and not wanting it to go too dark. David would often like to go places in the storytelling that were very tragic and unresolved and into kind of gray and murky areas, [to] which we did say we didn't want to go there. In this case, David would want to end stories with a real downbeat cast moment. We would say, it's not necessarily a fairy tale, but we don't need to have everybody broken and bloody, crying on the floor. It was an ongoing conversation, but not the real issue."
This Is the End, My Friend
Finally, when it comes to the parting of the ways, both Maples and Wachtel agree it is very bittersweet.
• Departing show runner Maples on the end of the road: "It's a lot of mixed emotions, I think. There's a time and a place for all things, and I think I've said what I need to say about these characters, not that there isn't a lot more to be written about them, but I think this is a good time for me to move on to the next thing. It's very bittersweet for me. At the end of the day, I think their decision is probably a smart decision for them, I think it makes sense. I think we have come to a parting of ways creatively and this is probably the best solution for all of us."
• Network executive Wachtel on letting Maples go: "It's very bittersweet. All shows go through change. Sometimes things happen that you have no control over. You adapt. We are very careful to protect the original voice. The original voice in this series belonged to David Maples, that's how we fell in love, and we will continue to respect and protect that voice."
Will In Plain Sight be the same without David Maples? Are you upset with the news that Jinx and Bobby D. won't be hanging around as much? Sound off in the comments!
The second-season finale of In Plain Sight airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on USA Network. Will you be watching?
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