Which is stranger, do you think? The idea that once upon a time it was every American housewife’s dream to be whisked off her feet by a super-spy played by Bruce Boxleitner? Or that the US’s attempt to mirror the formula of The Avengers – male super-spy paired with talented female amateur – was Scarecrow and Mrs King, in which former Charlie’s Angel Kate Jackson, instead of playing an anthropologist or a millionaire industralist’s daughter, was a soccer mom?
Whichever was stranger, there was no denying the barn-storming appeal of the show, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK, starting in 1983. The plot saw the eponymous Amanda King, a divorced housewife who lives with her mother, Dotty, and her two young sons meeting Agency operative Lee Stetson, codenamed ‘Scarecrow’ one afternoon. He hands her a packet while he is being pursued, then later has to track her down to recover it, inadvertently getting her involved with his case.
Amanda tries to learn more about the Agency and ends up working for it, first in an office role and later training to become a full agent, while keeping her new job a secret from her family. Amanda and Lee work together frequently, though he is initially reluctant to work with the ‘rookie’, but they become a good team. As the series progresses, they develop a friendship that turns into a romantic relationship. Eventually they decide to marry, but they have to keep the marriage secret from their employer and their families.
Like The Avengers, Scarecrow and Mrs King was an escapist show with the same “will they, won’t they?” relationship between the two leads. Except of course, they did in the end. Unlike The Avengers, S&MK was relatively prosaic, more like Chuck, with few excursions into the weird and wacky, the focus being the contrast being the normal life of Mrs King and her exciting adventures with ‘Scarecrow’. Of course, no one ever died, was viciously tortured or captured by extremists, but that wasn’t the point. The point was for the viewer to imagine her life was like Mrs King’s and that she really could by a spy, too, if she wanted to, in between making the meals and picking the kids up from school.
The show lasted for four seasons and probably would have gone on for longer. Sadly, during the fourth season, Kate Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer, reducing her role in that season and preventing a fifth season from getting the go-ahead.
Bruce Boxleitner, of course, had already been the star of Bring ‘Em Back Alive, went on to star in Babylon 5 and has had guest roles in Heroes and Chuck, to name but a couple of shows. He’ll also be reprising his role as Alan Bradley in Tron in the sequel Tron Legacy this year (no idea if he’ll play be playing the eponymous Tron as well); Kate Jackson now recurs on Criminal Minds.
I know the titles aren’t especially weird, but I think we’ve long passed that particular entry qualification, haven’t we? Here’s they anyway.
(As per usual when I’m in a rush, bits nicked from Wikipedia)