Scarecrow and Mrs. King classic show

On October 3, 1983 Scarecrow and Mrs. King swept into the living rooms across America. Not quite like anything else, it charmed and captivated the public. Excellent writing, top notch casting, and characters who care about each other made this show a success then, and still today. I am convinced that critics who claim Scarecrow and Mrs. King to be only a “minimal show with only a little romance to keep it going” or “tongue and cheek comedy” have totally missed what the fans saw from the beginning. This show has class that TV writers could not dream of replicating today. 

Kate Jackson

Amanda King played by Kate Jackson, is a lady with which almost everyone can identify. Her hardworking, family centered, practical, and honest personality captures the hearts of the viewers. Also, she loves her country. I think that she might bleed red, white, and blue if she is shot or stabbed. Amanda’s character also showed that ordinary people can do the extraordinary- when asked. The very first episode in the train station exactly pinpoints her personality for the whole series. When a handsome stranger, of course Scarecrow, begins to escort her through the train station and convinces her to take the package, her simple rely, “OK, what do I do,” became her theme. (More on Kate in a minute)...

Scarecrow and Mrs. King the legend

Scarecrow and Mrs. King from wikipedia
Scarecrow and Mrs. King from wikipedia

Bruce Boxleitner

Bruce Boxleitner as Lee Stetson, is Scarecrow. Handsome, innovative, and a maverick of a secret agent, he is anything but ‘normal’. He is assigned many of the hardest cases and uses much more than his gun to figure them out. Characters like the British Agent “Emily Farnsworth”, seen in both Season Two episodes “The Legend of Das Geisterschloss” and “The Three Faces of Emily”, and “The Wizard, Paul Barnes” in “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, Season Three, help to expose more of his true character. It becomes obvious that Emily taught him early on to out think his opponents. The Wizard, Paul Barnes, the giver of his code name “Scarecrow”, saw something special in Lee when he first joined the agency. As part of a crack commando group Paul also taught him to analyze his opponents. Remember, in the Wizard of Oz, the wizard gave the scarecrow his mind.

As one of the top agents of the Agency, he finds himself working more and more with Amanda King. In the first few seasons he is forced to work with her, much to his dismay and her delight, but by the end of season two he called her “partner”.

The Romance

Lee’s long string of high society, flashy, or stunning ladies begin to pale against the strong, quiet, and tender character of Amanda. In “Tail of the Dancing Weasel”, season three, Lee tells his elderly superior and long time friend he would follow Amanda anywhere blind folded in the a blizzard at midnight. No matter what the bad guys throw at her, she rises above it again and again. Not quite keen on shooting people, many times she would out maneuver them. More than one of them ends up hit with a tree branch, sprayed with whip cream, or decked with a lamp. This impresses Lee and unbeknownst to him, this housewife begins to melt his cold spy heart.

Another angle of Scarecrow comes to light with the story that becomes so very real in “We’re Off to See the Wizard”. The murder of the woman, code named Dorothy, was explained, thus why Lee could never stand the smell of roses. Perhaps this is one reason it takes him three seasons to realize the treasure he sees in Amanda. As an agent he saw many killed and turn against the government. Maybe Lee was afraid to trust his heart to anything more than just the flashy ladies. I guess we would have to ask Scarecrow that one.

Beverly Garland

The chemistry of the series wouldn’t work without the clever inclusion of the supporting character Dotty West (Beverly Garland) as Amanda’s mother. Writing her as an active part of everyday life, her presence allows for the progression of Amanda from part time office worker at the Agency to full time secret agent. The inclusion of Amanda’s sons Phillip King (Paul Stout) and Jamie King (Greg Morton) enhances and provides an even richer backdrop for the series. I love the episodes where they write Dotty into the plot. In Season One’s Episode “Waiting for Godorsky”, Dotty’s driving lessons and fascination with the Princess never fails to keep us in stitches. The careful weaving of story line, humor, and quality characters make this one of my personal favorites.

Martha Smith and Mel Stewart

Mel Stewart as boss Billy Melrose, and Martha Smith as fellow agent Francine Desmond round out the cast. Billy’s immediate like for Amanda give her character the support it needs to develop into the super talented spy she becomes. Billy shows the ability to think out side of the box and use Amanda in ways that help the agency and also complements one of his top spies.

The downcast light that Francine Desmond at times casts on Amanda, just makes her shine all the more. Martha Smith does a super job. From impersonating a defective woman to running the agency when needed, hand to hand combat or backing up a fellow agent, she plays the parts well. Her personal interest in Lee makes her condescension to Amanda even more real. She just can’t ever figure out how a ‘simple’ housewife could be given assignments that she would like, much less actually succeed in catching the famous Scarecrow romantically.

Lee and Amanda

Lee Stetson and Amanda King
Lee Stetson and Amanda King

Deeper Meaning

The final episode of Season Three, “All the World’s a Stage” has more significance than anyone realizes. Yes, of course it is thrilling to see Lee finally admit his interest in Amanda and their first real kiss, but there is more to this episode. As part of the story line of the episode Amanda becomes involved with a play by her favorite play write. In a scene in her kitchen, she is acting out her lines with her sons and mother. Her sons believe the play to be boring. Dotty does not understand why the one character just sits at the end of the bar and says one line over and over, and another character is doing the can-can.

Amanda, in her introspective way, analyses the spirit of the French Revolution in the can-can and uses the satire to explain the true meaning of the whole play. I could be wrong, or perhaps it was simply unintentional on the part of the writers, but I believe this is actually a poke at the critics. Critics only want to credit Scarecrow and Mrs. King as something much less than it is. But the viewers know better. This special series lets the critics sit on the side all day long, but meanwhile Scarecrow and Mrs. King are out dancing to the music of risking their lives, figuring out plots, and outwitting the bad guys. In the end it is the critics who were out maneuvered.

Kate Jackson's Triumph

Sadly, sadly, May of 1987 brought the end of this super show. Though many did not understand why the producers would allow Amanda to be shot on her honeymoon in early 1987. Then for her to be written out of the bulk of many episodes and Francine’s role increase, did not seem right. We all wanted to see Lee and Amanda’s romance deepen first hand. What many did not know was that Kate Jackson had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Only her producer knew the real truth and Kate Jackson checked into a hospital under an assumed name for treatment. She actually finished the rest of Season Four under heavy pain killers and having to deal with things like chemotherapy. In great pain, she still stuck it out for her fans and the show. Her cancer went into remission. Then a few years later she had another bought with the dreaded disease. Today, though she seems to be doing well.

From October 1983 to May of 1987 and 88 one hour episodes, enhanced everyday life for millions of Americans. Nothing quite like it had ever been shown before. I am so glad that as a child I had the opportunity to watch it and remember its name.

 

How to Be a Secret Agent by Jenni Lee

Scarecrow and Mrs King DVD

Just this spring 2010 the first season of Scarecrow and Mrs. King was released DVD. This official version is great. I have watched all of them (more than once) and can't wait to see the second, third, and fourth season to become available. The only thing I wish is that some interviews with the stars and makers had been included. Many DVD series that have been released have personal interviews that give such neat insight into the various episodes, back grounds, and story lines. We are all tickled as fans that Warner Brothers and Shoot The Moon have made the official release of the first season. I even found that SMK was the 6th most requested series by individuals to be released on DVD of all time. Even 1999 I signed a petition on Amazon to have it released. Do be careful purchasing DVD or 'fan collections' other than from reliable sources. I purchased a $50 collection at it was entirely bootlegged and very unwatchable.

Online Videos and AOL TV

There are some online videos for Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Fancast.com has about 20 episodes from season one and two (I'm not sure if season three is available or not) that they offer on a rotating basis. AOL TV has the vast majority of all four seasons, only missing two found in the third season). There are commercials in the shows. Also my computer pauses them several times per each approximately 46 minutes of playing time. But it is a very economical way to get to experience the show. The video and audio qualities are better than is found on the DVD set I purchased.

A fan named Jenni Lee has put together some really neat videos clips on the show. Viewable over on youtube.com, I have greatly enjoyed her tasteful work. Below is one of my favorites. For all of her videos sequences visit youtube yourself and type in "Scarecrow and Mrs. King".

Scarecrow and Mrs. King photo

Scarecrow and Mrs. King petiton for release page
Scarecrow and Mrs. King petiton for release page

"Give the package to the man in the red hat..."

I have heard that both Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner have said they would gladly step into their roles once again for a reunion movie. Though it sounds so, so neat to get to have that chapter reopened, I really don’t believe that there is a writer who could do justice to this classy, unique, and first rate television masterpiece.

In my mind’s eye, Lee and Amanda, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, are still out fighting the bad guys, solving mysteries, and loving it and each other more every day. Keep a look out, who knows, a secret agent might just ask you to “Give the package to the man in the red hat” someday…

Thanks for reading about something that is special to me. Sue

Romance Lessons Scarecrow and Mrs. King

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Comments 22 comments

Anne 7 years ago

I own the Anniversary DVD's and can recommend them. The quality is good, and all 88 episodes are there and uncut.


Nancy 7 years ago

I also have the DVD collection and I keep watching them over and over again. I even got my kids to get into it. They love the relationship between Lee and Amanda Stetson.


Jessika 7 years ago

Where can I buy the anniversary DVDs?


slemmon profile image

slemmon 7 years ago from Montana, USA Author

Jessika, I have not purchased the discs from smk anniversary, but the site is www.smkanniversary.com and I had someone from the KateJackson website forum recommend them. She said she had them and they were fine. I purchased some from planetdvd and they were not the best. Taped from the tv directly. Some of the episodes have "Channel 6" on the bottom corner of the screen. But they are at least better than nothing as an offical relaease has not been made yet. That is why places like Amazon don't carry them. I plan to buy a set for christmas from the smkanniversary site. Hope that helps, Sue


Jessika 7 years ago

Hi Sue,

Thanks for your response. It was helpful.

I've been watching so many episodes on Youtube lately and unfortunately a lot of the shows are cut-up. So, I found someone on Ebay selling SMK DVDs. This person claims that they are just copied from old tapes so I'm hoping that they'll at least be in reasonably good shape. If it turns out that the DVDs are in poor condition then I most likely will 'cave' and purchase a set from the anniversary site. I'm so hooked on this show and REALLY wish that Warner Brothers would release the show on DVD. *sigh*


frances 6 years ago

Thank you for that very gracious and thorough review of Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Just like you, I was an avid viewer as a teenager and absolutely loved how the relationship between Lee and Amanda developed and deepened. I purchased some bootlegged copies of the show two years ago. I'm not completely happy with some of the copies but I still watch the episodes none-the-less. At that time, I didn't know that here was an SMK aniv site and that they sold some dvds of the show. Anyway, I guess right now, all SMK fans should rejoice and get ready to purchase THE genuine DVDs from WB set to be released in March 2010. I am very excited about this as I know you are, too. Long live SMK!


LoisAnne 6 years ago

FYI I hope you know NOW that the release of season 1 is OUT. Our 20+ years of waiting are over. You can find them easiest at Amazon.com. I have heard that other places only ordered one or two copies and they have sold out. Happy viewing!


Annie 6 years ago

Your posting moved me!! I loved this show as a little girl, I could not wait all week to see Lee and Amanda. I hope kate and Bruce know the treasure their was. He was sexy, sweet and loyal she was smart kind and beautiful. No such thing on tv today. I got the first season on dvd and love it.


Kellie 6 years ago

I would love to see a reunion!!! I agree that they could have given more the last few episodes but I totally understand the situation that Kate was dealing with. Writers and producers if you can read this...PLEASE you owe it too the fans to bring them back for a reunion. Both Kate and Bruce bloged that they would agree to come back and for what I can see on the web you have an audience.


Abby 5 years ago

I loved this show. I still do. since purchasing the 1st Season DVD's I have begun watching them all over again. I really wish WB would release the rest of the seasons! I'm not sure what the delay is. Lee and Amanda were so great together - so much chemistry, sex appeal, and fun!


Sabine 5 years ago

Thank you for this post. I'm French. I loved Scarecrow and Mrs King as a teenager. I was longing to see that show again. I had to buy the 2 first seasons in US in order to make it. And it's as great as I remembered it! I still like Scarecrow and his cars and Amanda's good nature. I hope the next seasons will be avaible soon.I cannot wait any longer.


Ilka 5 years ago

Thanks for this wonderful article. I was addicted to the show when I was a child and I am still addicted as an adult. I was waiting so much to see it again. I bought season 1 and 2 and am happy to read that there is an anniversary dvd season 3 and 4. Hopefully, I can still buy it.


michelle 5 years ago

if you are an amazon prime member- they have all episodes of all 4 seasons for free that you can stream on their site. I am on season 3 episode 6 now and have enjoyed EVERY minute.


Pamela 4 years ago

Loved this show as a teenager and still do. I would love to see a reunion show in the movie theater.

Please bring this show back.


Cindy 4 years ago

I was a huge fan when this was on air and would love to see a reunion on TV. It would provide some closure that we all (and the characters) really deserve!


Sunnie 4 years ago

I own season 1 and 2 and just streamed the rest off of Amazon...I loved the show and cannot wait until the rest come out in DVD.


Anna 4 years ago

I love this show but I kind of do see it as tongue-in-cheek and played for laughs, or at least the spy thriller elements of it. Plots a little silly and predictable (some more than others), 2D cartoonish villains etc, but I got the impression this was purposeful. As if it's an ordinary person like Amanda's daydreams about what espionage would be like rather than any kind of realism. And this is very much a good thing. When did everyone decide TV had to take itself seriously to be any good?

It's the humour, and the relationship between Lee and Amanda (and the actors' chemistry) that makes this show stand out.


Guest 4 years ago

Amazon has all the episodes except two available for instant viewing. Also, season 3 DVD should be out next year.


slemmon profile image

slemmon 3 years ago from Montana, USA Author

Thank you all for commenting on what is probably my favorite show of all time. This show is a treasure. If you've never seen it, be sure to buy a season or two. It is well worth the investment... And don't forget to give the box to the man in the red hat.... SL


Kathy batta 3 years ago

I would love to see kate Jackson and Bruce boxleitner back in scarecrow and mrs.king series again best team ever. Kathy


Sabrina 3 years ago

Hi Sue,

Thank you for your nice story about SMK. How pity It was end in 1987. However, it is impossible to reunion as Bruce and Kate are not able to do it again, nobody elso may replace them. Sabrina


maryramji 3 years ago

I would love to see a SMK reunion. The chemistry between Kate and Bruce is amazing. I am obsessed with this show. I get a crush on Bruce, every time I watch the show over again. Bruce is an amazing actor as is Kate, whom I haven't seen in years. Hoe to see tem together again soon.

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