Being a divorced mom with two young kids is hard enough, but throw in commie agents and you have the life of Mrs. King (Kate Jackson). How did this happen? How could she be fighting spies? Turns out she went down to the train station with her latest boyfriend only to bump into the Scarecrow (Tron‘s Bruce Boxleitner). He’s being chased by goons and hands her a package for safe keeping. What should just be a chance meeting turned into four seasons of espionage and motherly duties for the unlikely duo. Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season brings the domestic to international intrigue.
“The First Time” has Mrs. King sort of blow her first assignment. Although she has a good excuse as to she didn’t pass the package to the right agent. Even though she’s not a natural born spy, the agency finds her useful. She’s got her mother (My Three Sons) living with her. Scarecrow isn’t delighted. The other female agent, Francine Desmond (Martha Smith) isn’t ready to make her part of the sisterhood of spies. But the section boss, Billy Melrose (Mel Stewart) thinks Mrs. King can help them. “There Goes the Neighborhood” uses Mrs. King’s talent as a former wife to great advantage. They need Scarecrow to pose a a guy in a suspicious suburban community. He needs a wife and Mrs. King fits the bill. They pressure her out of her new regular gig. Her mother (Beverly Garland) takes care of the kids when she goes undercover. She has to use her wifey ways to coax out gun smuggling operation. “If Thoughts Could Kill” has Scarecrow and Melrose getting brainwashed by the doctor doing their company physicals.
“Magic Bus” has survivalist stealing a top secret weapon and Scarecrow has to figure out the target. “The A.C.M. Kid” has a Soviet boy genius being kept safe by the duo. However he’s using his protection to poach secret codes and sending them back to his country. How could he do such a dastardly deed? “Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” has them protect a royal couple. Jane Kaczmerek (Malcolm in the Middle) is the princess. “Service Above and Beyond” has Mrs. King disguise herself as a rich jetsetter to lure a target. “Saved by the Bells” seems rather sedate as Mrs. King looks after the Scarecrow’s apartment. However he gets an unwelcomed guest in the form of Soviet agents that think she’s the Scarecrow. They want a hostage swap. John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) plays the head of the agency in only the pilot and this episode. This is a shame since he fit the agency role so well.
“Sudden Death” is the prerequisite football oriented episode. Scarecrow has to pose as a football player to stop an killing. Mrs. King fakes being a reporter so she can channel information. The most frightening aspect of this episode is time with Yakov Smirnoff. This was back when he could still do his jokes about growing up in a commie Russia. “The Long Christmas Eve” is the holiday special. Mrs. King lies to a defector by saying she’s his long lost daughter. Can she pull of a strange Christmas miracle? “I Am Not Now, nor Have I Ever” makes Mrs. King’s neighborhood the target of terrorists. She can’t afford to ruin the area. “The Mole” puts an enemy agent inside the agency. “Savior” has Scarecrow quit the agency to go into the private sector. Although in his case it’s is as a gun runner. “Fearless Dotty” lets mom get into the spy game when she gets her hands on a book featuring code. She thinks it’s just a book to give one of the kids as a birthday gift.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season is still good fun after all these years. The series does have severe 1983 fashion sense especially in the hair department. Kate Jackson doesn’t just rehash her Sabrina character from Charlie’s Angels. She does come off more motherly in her various cases. Boxleitner has the spy of the ‘80s look down. This is a fine piece of escapist espionage with a woman’s touch.
“The First Time,” “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “If Thoughts Could Kill,” “Magic Bus,” “The A.C.M. Kid,” “Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth,” “Service Above and Beyond,” “Saved by the Bells,” “Sudden Death,” “The Long Christmas Eve,” “Remembrance of Things Past,” “Lost and Found,” “I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been… a Spy,” “Dead Ringer,” “The Mole,” “Savior,” “The Artful Dodger,” “Filming Raul,” “Fearless Dotty,” “Weekend” and “ Waiting for Godorsky.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is from the 35mm source so you can really appreciate their hair. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The mix level doesn’t let you get blown away by the bullets. The episodes have English subtitles.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season is a cute spy show with the relationship between a divorcee and a super spy. She’s a hard worker wanting to prove that she can contribute to the agency. There’s just enough hint of a romance between the duo to let us know they aren’t all about the work. It gives a feminine touch to the normally man driven genre.
Warner Home Video presents Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season. Starring: Kate Jackson, Bruce Boxleitner, Beverly Garland, Mel Stewart and Martha Smith. Boxset Contents: 21 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 9, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.