Secret Hideaways & Entrances: 'Jane Doe'
writers use a gimmick from the past to make a
new spy show fun. (Jerome A. Holst © 2005)
Traditionally, TV spies and covert-crime
fighters use secret hideaways and entrances to
protect their headquarters from the bad guys or
to preserve their anonymity. For example, on the
espionage adventure THE MAN FROM U.N.CL.E.,
agents Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo enter
their agency through a special door at the back
of New York City tailor shop. The spies on the
espionage sitcom GET SMART, namely Agent 86 and
99, dial a receiver in a telephone booth to open
a trap door that drops them into the midst of
CONTROL. And on the spy adventure NIKITA,
Level-6 assassin, Nikita, a.k.a. "Josephine" who
works for Section One, the most covert
anti-terrorist organization on the planet,
enters and exits through such a secure
organization that even the TV viewers have no
idea where the agency is located (though we
suspect it's somewhere in Europe).
this year, the gimmick of secret hideaways and
entrances has been resurrected on
The Hallmark Channel mystery movie
JANE DOE. This new show stars Lea Thompson (of
Back to the Future fame) as Cathy Davis, a
contented soccer mom who used to do sensitive
work for the US Government. Although, out of the
"game" for years, her former partner, Frank
Darnell (Joe Penny), now a high ranking official
at the NSA (National Security Agency), suddenly
hunts her down with stealth helicopters and
sleek black sedans to ask her to do the
patriotic thing and help him with a "time"
sensitive case that only she can solve. Cathy,
of course, is great with puzzles and was one of
their best agents before retiring to suburbia to
be a mother and wife.
Given the code name JANE DOE, Cathy reluctantly
agrees to help out and follows Frank to his
headquarters that turns out to be a neighborhood
shopping mart called GREEN ACRES FARM MARKET.
The agency had secretly converted the ground
space beneath the store.
Upon entering the market and seeing such a
peculiar base of operations, Cathy (Jane Doe)
turns to her friend Frank and asks "Federal
Building not secure enough for you?" He curtly
replies, "Not anymore."
To gain entrance to the main headquarters below
the supermarket, the agents head to the back of
the store and enter the meat cutting area
Pushing their way through swinging doors and
curtains of plastic partitions, Cathy and Frank
meander through slabs of beef hanging from the
ceiling (a la Rocky). At each door, there is an
agent who requires identification before they
will let anyone pass. Once through the cold
storage area, visitors take an elevator down a
few floors to the central headquarters below. As
the elevator door slides open, visitors are
given access to a large room that is filled with
agents, high ceilings, computers, and walls
cluttered with monitors filled all sorts of
streaming data and video displays.
Eventually, Jane Doe solves the first case and
agrees to help out whenever her country needs
her again. But she lets the agency know, in no
uncertain terms, that her family is important to
her and if she has to go to school to watch her
daughter try out for cheerleader squad, then
that will have to take precedence over her
Cathy's cover story with her family is that she
is working as a consultant for a puzzle company.
So, whenever the government calls, Mom tells her
family she has to go to work or that she needs
something from the market. Cathy is not beneath
dropping a beautifully decorated cake on the
floor on purpose or spilling the last container
of milk in the sink as an excuse to leave the
house for a covert meeting.
Frank and Jane Doe on the Job
As she arrives at her rendezvous point, namely
Green Acres Farm Market, Cathy snags a shopping
cart as she enters the building and strolls up
and down the aisles until she hooks up with her
undercover contact. As they discuss their case,
they fill their baskets with produce and can
Bottom-line: Cathy as Jane Doe has just jumped
back into dangerous waters to help her country,
but hey, as a perk for her patriotism, she gets
a basket of free groceries every time she shows
up for work. So, it ain't that bad. Have you
checked the price of groceries these days?
Obviously, the writers of the JANE DOE show are
teasing its viewers with an homage to past spy
shows who used similar, if not more bizarre
The "Jane Doe" show touches a bit of nostalgia
in those of us who grew up in the 1960s and
1970s when the James Bond craze ran rampant
across the globe. It taunts us to remember the
fun times we had sitting around the TV screen
watching our favorite TV spies from U.N.C.L.E.
and CONTROL and, of course, their respective
enemies from T.H.R.U.S.H. and KAOS.
Indeed, the "Jane Doe" secret entrance gimmick
takes us back to a time when the secret agents
were more silly than dangerous. It leaves us
yearning for possibly a better time, a better
place, and the warm enchanting glow of our TV
set that once united the family together for a
night of wonder and communion. Knowing that we
lived in a world where spies and terrorism were
more of a fictitious cliché than reality.
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