Warner Bros. // 1983 // 994 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 28th, 2010
America's newest spy is the mom next door.
There's something oddly comforting about settling in for a marathon of episodes of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, a quaint spy series that is long on homespun charm. The show was never violent or overly sexy, simply a light romantic comedy with hints of national defense intrigue. It began a four season run in 1983 on CBS that starred Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels) and Bruce Boxleitner (TRON). The whole conceit of the show is that a spy ends up enlisting the help of a housewife, and she bumbles her way through to getting a job safeguarding national defense as an operative. It was kind of like Moonlighting set in Washington, DC with spies instead of detectives. The show relied on a blend of innocent romance and light action centering around your usual "fish out of water" scenarios. Kate Jackson was an accidental spy long before Chuck got drafted.
In the pilot episode we meet Amanda King (Jackson), a struggling Virginia housewife who has recently divorced and needs a job. She lives with her mother (Beverly Garland, Roller Boogie) and two adolescent sons near Washington, DC. One day at a subway station she runs into an Intelligence Agency operative named Lee Stetson (Boxleitner) who hands her a box and tells her "give it to the man with the red hat." Soon she finds herself on a train car with a bunch of Shriners all wearing red hats, and her adventure begins. She gets a job at the mysterious Agency, and has to keep everything secret from her own family. Secrets just seem to multiply on the show as a hush hush romance bubbles between Amanda and Lee.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season presented by Warner Bros. includes twenty-one episodes presented in their original fullscreen, low definition broadcast format. The images are decidedly 1983 and look like VHS masters when you get down to it. They appear overly soft and grainy without much detail. Scratches pop up routinely, and the black levels can look gray. The sound is the predictable mono, and luckily we get subtitles for when the dialogue is tough to make out. There are no extras at all on the set which is a bummer. I really hoped somebody would have been there to talk about this series.
Kate Jackson proved there was life for her outside of Charlie's Angels with this show, and she also showed her true talent with light romantic comedy. The show ran for three more years after this first season, faltering only when Jackson had to bow out quite a lot while battling breast cancer. Bruce Boxleitner was easy on the eyes, and made for a great agent dealing with a rookie. The stakes were never too high with the show. Seemed people got knocked around, but the bad guys weren't all that scary or ruthless. The violence was always contained, and there was never any overt sexuality. The show is a quaint throwback to a time when all television audiences wanted was some pleasant banter, good chemistry, and light spy adventure. Think of it as the soccer mom version of Chuck. Glad to see this one finally on DVD, but unhappy to see it minus any extras.
Guilty of making a soccer mom a super spy, and keeping Kate Jackson on
television after she left Charlie.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 994 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated