<P>Ah, television. This form of entertainment has
provided many quality programs since its invention. But
which among them has shone above the rest, becoming the
epitome to which all great television must aspire?
Certainly not Scarecrow and Mrs. King, a corny little spy
show from the 1980's. Yet fans of the program have kept
it alive into the twenty-first century through fanfic,
websites, and syndication.
<P>So, what happens when the bad guys chase a dashing
federal agent through an Arlington train station?
Naturally, he grabs a civilian housewife, gives her a
package, tells her to give it to the man in the red hat,
and dashes off to save his skin.
<P>Now, we ask, what could possibly go wrong? Well, for
starters, there are dozens of men in red hats at the train
station in Arlington. So what should this poor housewife
do with this package, which is almost certainly a matter
of National Security? Well, she doesn't know. So she
leaves it lying around her kitchen until her mother, big
surprise here, mistakenly mails it.
<P>What follows is four years of wacky adventures as
Amanda King, played by former Charlies Angel Kate Jackson,
learns the art of espionage from her partner, the dashing
Lee Stetson, aka 'Scarecrow,' played by Bruce Boxleitner.
<P>The show is kept alive for four seasons through the
classic 'unrequited love' ploy that keeps viewers tuning
in week after week. Every cliche in the book is thrown at
the couple. They are tied together, handcuffed together,
chained together, and forced to share hotel rooms
together. They share near death experiences together.
Every other assignment finds them posing as husband and
wife; usually they are newlyweds.
<P>The show does have its comedic charms. Amanda does
not want her family to know she has become a spy. This
knowledge will apparently endanger them. So, Mrs. King is
forced to be very sneaky. She spends a great deal of time
whispering to Lee in the back yard of her suburban home.
After all, why would her two sons, Philip and Jamie,
possibly ever come outside?
<P>Mrs. King certainly does not need to fear that her
mother, Dotty West, will ever discover her secret. The
hapless woman would probably fail to notice an elephant in
the dining room. Every week's episode includes at least
one incident where Dotty really should become suspicious,
but doesn't. It's an amusing tradition.
<P>Amanda's ex-husband is a treat. We rarely see him,
but he knows all about his former wife's career as a spy.
After all, she helps him out when he returns from Africa
and becomes embroiled in international intrigue himself.
The most interesting thing about Mrs. King's ex-husband?
His name, for in their infinite wisdom, the writers
decided to dub him Joe. Think about that for a minute.
<P>Now, how does a housewife with virtually no training
fare in the big bad world of spies? Well, after her first
little adventure, she is hired to do secretarial work for
the Agency. On a weekly basis, this results in her
involvement with Lee Stetson's cases. She nearly always
saves the day, brandishing weapons such as pool cues, tree
branches, pots and pans... You get the idea.
<P>In addition to Scarecrow, Amanda works with supervisor
Billy Melrose and his assistant Francine Desmond. Lee's
former unofficial partner, Francine is jealous of Amanda,
and seeks revenge through constant sarcastic jabs at her
<P>The quality of the show does improve somewhat in the
third season. The plots become slightly more plausible,
and Amanda starts to gain legitimate skill as an agent.
<P>By the fourth season, Lee and Amanda have become a
couple. A secret couple, of course, but as soon as they
become engaged to be married, you know the show is dead in
the water. It was the whole sexual tension thing that
kept the audience at the edge of their seats, and simple
espionage is not going to cut it.
<P>So, the next time you find yourself channel surfing in
search of some pleasantly mindless entertainment, give
Scarecrow and Mrs. King an hour of your attention. The
romance is cute, and it's a guaranteed laugh. After all,
who can keep a straight face during a show that uses such
lines as "I don't care what the King says, pickle that
<P>Scarecrow and Mrs. King aired on CBS from September 1983 through March 1987. It is the property of Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon. A very good website containing further information can be found at: <A HREF="http://comp.uark.edu/~tsnyder/enSAMK.html">Tamara's Scarecrow and Mrs. King Page</A>