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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).

Lea Thompson as Jane DoeWell, 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 government assignments.

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 & Jane Doe Discuss a Case
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 goods.

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 secret entrances.

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.

Check out these other areas of my website for more information on Spies and Secret Organizations:


NOTE: This article may be linked for distribution to other Internet publications. Please credit the article to the author, Jerome A. Holst and mention its URL.

 

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