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Series / Scarecrow and Mrs. King

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Scarecrow and Mrs. King is a Cold War-era spy series that aired on CBS from 1983–87, about a divorced housewife who, through a chance meeting, ends up working for a secret government agency. The series is built around the growing romantic relationship between secret agent Lee Stetson, a.k.a. Scarecrow (Bruce Boxleitner), and Amanda King (Kate Jackson) as they fall in love and eventually get secretly married.

As of early 2013, all four seasons have been released on DVD.

Tropes featured include:

  • Action Mom: Amanda. She's no trained agent, but she has no fear about putting herself in the middle of a situation.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: IFF, Amanda's house, Lee's apartment, the bad guys are everywhere.
  • Almost Kiss: Multiple times, such as in "Sour Grapes", when they are interrupted by Amanda's mother.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: "Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth" features an Arab prince who grew up in an Lonely at the Top household, is wooed for drilling rights to his country's oil by a False Friend, is married to an American woman who befriends Amanda, and is said to be one of the last stabilizing factors in the Middle East.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Amanda is very nice — until she is provoked into being less so. She can clomp people over the head with a piece of furniture and then shrug her shoulders and smile ever-so-demurely as if to say that she really wants to get back into the kitchen, but right now of course she has to maim enemy agents, alas.
  • Bound and Gagged: Amanda frequently finds herself in a very tight bind on many missions.

  • Cassandra Truth: In "Service Above and Beyond," when a villain who has caught Amanda spying threatens to poison her unless she tells him who she is, she ruefully asks if he'd believe that she's a suburbanite with two kids and isn't too surprised when he says no.
  • Catchphrase: For Amanda: "Oh, my gosh!" It actually saves her life during a fight with an impostor.
  • City of Spies: Set in 1980s Washington, D.C., which was very much a real-life example of this.
  • Code Name: Scarecrow. The series eventually revealed that Lee's code name was part of a The Wizard of Oz-themed set which also included Dorothy and Tin Man.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: The usual dynamic is inverted in the second episode when the government agents confess to a lesser offense to the crooks who've just caught them spying. They claim to be corporate spies rather than official ones to make their Corrupt Corporate Executive captor less determined to kill them and lull him into a false sense of security before they escape.
  • Damsel in Distress: Amanda often finds herself in many dangerous situations, kidnapped, tied up, or placed in a death trap. Francine also sees her share of danger and distress.
  • Dork Knight: Yup. Boxleitner's stock in trade. Scarecrow is an ace of a secret agent and almost incorruptible despite his line of work, but he has a lot of blind spots when it comes to relating to people and non-spy life.
  • Double Take: In the second episode, Lee is nearly stabbed with a flamingo lawn ornament, grabs another for self-defense, and then glances down at it in disbelief as he registers what he is fighting with.
  • The Dreaded Toilet Duty: Amanda and Francine pose as housemaids to snoop around a suspect's home. Amanda offers to take the more difficult downstairs rooms, while Francine takes the upstairs rooms, which includes a full-size bathroom. Francine's face drops as she's handed a bucket with sanitizer and a bowl brush, as she's never had to do this work before (she's had servants for that).
  • Driving Stick: Scarecrow has Amanda wait in his car at the wheel while he flushes out his prey. A hot pursuit is about to begin as the bad guy takes off … except that Amanda has never driven stick and stalls the car immediately.
  • The Faceless: Dean. So boring cameras can't record his face.
  • Flat "What": Amanda gives us a classic example in "Stemwinder".
  • Forgot the Call: Amanda forgets about being a spy after getting into a car accident in "I Am Not, Nor Have I Ever Been, a Spy", though she retains her memories of everything else.
  • Gift Shake: In the first episode, Amanda's son Philip does this and saves the day. The present he shakes and "breaks" contained a secret message. Philip is able to tell his mom the message — which makes no sense to the spies, but which Amanda figures out is recipes on a cooking show being used to send information to Soviet spies.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Apparently trained agents use these.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: At the start of one episode, Lee is teaching Amanda how to open handcuffs when your hands are cuffed behind your back. At the end of the episode, she has to do exactly that, using Lee's stickpin as a picklock.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Amanda again.
  • Housewife: Amanda, who's skills in domestic mastery and nurturing actually make her a surprisingly great agent.
  • I Have My Ways: From "The First Time":
  • It Seemed Trivial: Averted. Part of what makes Amanda so useful is that she has access to knowledge that loners like Scarecrow wouldn't. Such as, in the pilot, recognizing a certain TV chef's recipes.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Amanda is one of the best examples. While not mistaken exactly, she slips into the spy game accidentally. In one episode, she is even mistaken for Scarecrow by the Russians.
  • Noodle Incident: Scarecrow and Francine constantly reference previous missions we know nothing about. Billy gets in on the action occasionally too. "Remember Grenada?"
  • Ruritania: There are two episodes in Germany and one in Austria that play upon this.
  • Spot the Imposter: When Amanda and her double slip off a rooftop during a fight and find themselves hanging on for their lives, she instinctively screams her Catchphrase. Upon which Lee pulls her to safety, and the impostor, dressed exactly like her, falls to her death.
  • There Is Only One Bed: In the first season episode "Weekend", Lee and Amanda are sent to a resort as a married couple. After giving Amanda a hard time about junior agents having to take the couch, Lee explains he will be staking out the room of a potential kidnapping target all night.