Scarecrow And Mrs. King, The Complete Second Season DVD Review: a good whodunit

For some reason, one of the most popular genres on television in the '80s were mysteries. Be it Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Moonlighting, or one of many others -- viewers loved a good whodunit. As the new five-DVD set of Scarecrow And Mrs. King: The Complete Second Season proves, this was a program made for its time.

One of the big keys to success with these types of shows is their hook. Veteran leads in Matlock (Andy Griffith) and Murder She Wrote (Angela Lansbury) garnered fierce loyalty from a somewhat older demographic. The immensely popular Moonlighting had the appeal of charismatic stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Scarecrow And Mrs. King was international intrigue and a budding relationship between Lee Stetson, codenamed “Scarecrow” (Bruce Boxleitner), and the divorced Mrs. Amanda King (Kate Jackson).

By Season Two, the premise had been firmly established. In the pilot, Agent Lee Stetson was being pursued by enemy operatives intent on taking a valuable package he was carrying. To throw them off, “Scarecrow” handed the package to the suitably innocent-looking civilian Amanda King with the cryptic instructions to “Give it to the man in the red hat.” This random encounter led to the divorcee’s involvement with the “Agency” as Scarecrow’s partner. Okay, it does sound a little silly in retrospect -- but hey, this is TV! And eighties TV at that!

The show was so popular that the pair began saving the United States from various evil-doers on an international level. The very first episode of Season Two, titled “To Catch A Mongoose,” found our heroes in London. They are hot on the tail of one of Amanda’s high-school friends, who is thought to be the notorious “Mongoose” terrorist. Over the course of the season’s 23 one-hour programs, Lee and Amanda travel to other exotic locales, including Munich and Salzburg.

The most memorable journey the two take together is a wedding cruise. During “Ship Of Spies,” Scarecrow and Mrs. King actually get married at sea on a luxury cruise as part of their cover. While the show revolved around the leads, the supporting cast often provided comic relief. First of all, as the divorced mother of youngsters Philip (Paul Stout), and Jamie (Greg Morton), Amanda gets much needed help at home from her mother Dotty West (Beverly Garland). At the office there is the curmudgeonly Agency boss Billy Melrose (Mel Stewart). The funniest one of all has to be prickly female agent Francine Desmond (Martha Smith) however. Francine seems to resent the very existence of Amanda King, and makes her feeling towards her very clear.

One of the season’s highlights finds Francine and Amanda paired up as undercover maids in “Life Of The Party.” The two are definitely not a match made in heaven. Another memorable episode is “D.O.A.: Delirious On Arrival.” In this one, Amanda accidentally ingests a mystery drug that renders her temporarily insane. Things get a little scary, but Lee Stetson (as always) saves the day. The 23rd and final episode of the season “Vigilante Mothers” is one that was ripped right from contemporary headlines. I remember very well a series of crimes being committed by otherwise completely law-abiding women at the time. They were basically middle-aged, lonely ladies who had fallen under the spell of a guy who used them for his own nefarious schemes. The situation is taken a bit further in Scarecrow, the guy actually kills the women when he is finished with them. Things get dicey when Amanda is kidnapped by him while undercover - and it is a good thing Scarecrow is around is all I can say.

Scarecrow And Mrs. King was in top form during its second season, which ran from October 1984 to May 1985. Over 25 years later, the stories and characters hold up mighty well -- as does the slow-building romance which remains unconsummated. Although there are no extras included in the set, Scarecrow And Mrs. King: The Complete Second Season holds over 18 hours of great '80s murder mystery TV, and is recommended.

By Greg Barbrick

About the author

Greg Barbrick has been watching TV so long he remembers watching first run episodes of Star Trek.

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On: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

I'm much more familiar with Moonlighting and Murder She Wrote but certainly remember this one being on the air back in the mid-'80s. Great reset of the series and review of this seasonal set -- sounds like a lot of fun/intrigue and an '80s nostalgic trip to boot. 

On: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Gordon S. Miller said:

Sounds like a fun show.


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