Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jane Badler!

You probably know Jane Badler as Diana on the mid-80s TV show "V" if you know her at all. I, however, am an eternal fan because she was "Shannon Reed" on the 1989-1991 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE series.
When the new M:I series premiered in the fall of 1988, actress Terry Markwell played Casey, the lone woman of the team. Her back-story was that she had helped out the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) when her fiance had been killed. She appeared in the first eleven episodes. In the 11th, "The Fortune," Casey is murdered by guest-star Barbara Luna. Shannon Reed is then asked to fill-in temporarily; by the end of that particular mission she is made a permanent replacement.

In real-life, Markwell wanted off the series, so the producers made the historical decision to actually have a spy killed and disavowed, then hired Badler.
The original 1988 cast with Terry Markwell
I don't know if it was timing or because Markwell was unhappy, but the remaining episodes with Jane Badler seemed much more fun and exciting than the first ten. Perhaps the producers realized that they had to write a stronger female role, and did so? Maybe Markwell, who retired from acting soon after leaving M:I, was not a strong enough actress for the role? All I know is, Jane Badler did a heck of a job in the role after Terry Markwell left. 
One of the best episodes from the second season has Shannon posing as a NASA scientist to try to ferret out a turn-coat on the space shuttle campus. Then, when she is preparing for a test flight, the spy actually causes the shuttle to lift off, with her on it! The trailer for the episode makes it look incredibly stupid (ala Spies In Space), but the story itself makes plenty of sense. Years before Sandra Bullock did it in GRAVITY, Jane Badler was convincing as a woman out in space trying hard not to lose her head. She owned that episode.

After V and M:I, Badler worked mostly in Australia as an actress and as a singer (she has recorded two albums, and sang in atleast two M:I episodes). She was recently a guest-star on the updated V series, but I unfortunately didn't get a chance to watch that.

Happy Birthday, Jane Badler! 
with co-star Phil Morris

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