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"Did You Catch Him, Amanda?" "I'm Working on It!"
on April 21, 2015
It’s always a joy to see the final season of an older TV show hit DVD since sometimes it takes forever. Warner Brothers didn’t make us wait super long for the final season of Scarecrow & Mrs. King. They’ve released one a year for four years now.
Romance is definitely in the air in season four since Lee “Scarecrow” Stetson (Bruce Boxleitner) and divorced mother of two Amanda King (Kate Jackson) have secretly started dating. They are keeping their relationship a secret since they both work for the Agency, a secretive spy branch that seems to track foreign agents in America but all over the world (think combining the FBI and CIA while running parallel to them). Among the people they aren’t telling are their boss Bill Melrose (Mel Stewart) and fellow agent Francine Desmond (Martha Smith). Amanda’s family doesn’t even know she’s a spy, so they definitely can’t tell her mother Dotty (Beverly Garland) or her two sons Phillip and Jamie (Paul Stout and Greg Morton).
Of course, all this romance comes with danger as the two work cases that involve national security. Lee’s past comes back several times as a Soviet spy tries to get revenge in the two part opener. He also learns something about his parents who died when he was a boy. One of Lee’s contacts appears to die, only he might have faked his death. Amanda, meanwhile, is finally on her way to becoming a full blown agent – that is until a photo from her past threatens her status as an agent at all. The duo attempt to track down a man who has found a way to contaminate Washington DC’s water before terrorists get a hold of him. And even Amanda’s mother gets into the act in one episode when her new boyfriend is not who he claims to be.
About two thirds of the way through the season, Lee and Amanda marry. I must admit I seriously don’t get their relationship at this point because they are still sneaking around, but Amanda’s family has met Lee as her boyfriend. Why the secrecy still? Frankly, this show has never been that good with continuity. Hey, it’s an 80’s show, which means that serious story arcs just don’t happen. You get some advancement, but it’s never seriously tracked from one episode to another.
Speaking of the 80’s, that comes through in the clothes and hair, most noticeably Martha Smith’s as fashion conscious agent Francine. You can also see it in the assortment of Soviet villains who appear, although the occasional Middle Eastern terrorist does pop up.
This show is often held up as an example of the Moonlighting curse – a show going downhill after the will they/won’t they tension is resolved. Based on the early part of the season, I don’t think it would have been a serious problem. Some of the scenes between them are great because they are finally together. Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson have great chemistry, and they play their relationship perfectly. And yet, the show does go dramatically downhill after they get married.
Unfortunately, that’s not the fault of anyone on the show. From what I understand, Kate Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer about that time in the run of the show. Between surgery and treatment, she just couldn’t carry on like she needed to as the star of a show. The writers wrote around her, giving her only a couple scenes an episode and making Francine more of an active part of the show. But the result loses the charm of the show. After all, the heart of the show was always Lee and Amanda, and if they aren’t on screen together, it’s just not the same.
Anything going on behind the scenes is never obvious on screen. The acting from everyone is always great. And I have to mention the recurring characters this season. There’s Dr. Smyth (Myron Natwick) the new head of the agency who often causes more trouble than anything else. Plus there’s Lee’s regular informant T.P. (Raleigh Bond) who even becomes the focus of one episode..
Fans of the show pretty much know what to expect here. We’ve got all 22 episodes from the season on five discs in their native mono sound and full frame picture. Hey, this was the 80’s, remember? There are a few flaws with the picture, mostly with any stock footage used, but most fans of the show won’t find any horrid flaws with the picture or sound. Extras? We haven’t gotten any yet, why should we expect any now? Yes, I’d love to have one of the cast remembering their time working on the show, but I’m just happy to have these episodes period.
Because Scarecrow and Mrs. King is a fun show in only the way that 80’s TV can be. It’s light, but it entertains with characters you come to care about. I’m thrilled to have season 4 so I can enjoy the entire series for years to come.