Similar to the first season, this DVD set (out today!) contains five discs (23 episodes) with no extras. Unlike the first season, the approach this time is much more international.
The second season, which originally aired 1984-1985, kicks off with an episode in London, with plenty of on-site shooting and famous landmarks. If I recall correctly, this wasn’t the only show that went overseas at that time. Los Angeles was packed with people as part of the 1984 Summer Olympics, so many TV series that normally shot locally found it a convenient time to get out of town.
The plot for the season opener is pretty ridiculous — Amanda (Mrs. King) is needed to identify a supposed international assassin, who may be someone she went to school with — but the scenery is very nice. European locations do make this feel more like a spy show, although I did miss the balance between Amanda’s “day job” as an assistant spy and her home life. I never could tell the two kids (played by Paul Stout and Greg Morton) apart, and a little of her dithering mom went a long way, but the comparison was entertaining and gave her at least one venue in which she was immensely competent.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King:
The Complete Second SeasonBuy this DVD
They remedy that lack in the second episode, when the whole family wins a trip to Munich that turns out to be cover for the agency needing Amanda in Germany. (Someone wants a normal contact for a handoff, in a plot that reminded me of the setup for Condorman — there were a lot of similar ideas floating around TV and movies in the 80s, it seems.) Germany is also the setting for episode seven, where Lee (Scarecrow) has to get Amanda out of jail, since she’s been arrested for passing counterfeit money during a simple courier mission.
The third episode brings everyone back to the states and uses a tell-all book as a way to explore how Amanda manages the two sides of her life, as someone has written an expose of “suburban spies” that risks revealing her identity publicly. The premise isn’t used to its fullest extent, though, as the episode becomes a chase to find the manuscript instead of dealing with her secret-keeping from her family. This show has more running around chasing people, less mystery-solving than I remember, but I think that’s what passed for action on 80s TV.
Episode four goes back to Europe with Jean Stapleton guest-starring in a story about a supposedly haunted Austrian castle. She guests again in the eleventh episode, visiting Amanda’s home. England also appears again in episode eight, when an accidental newspaper picture gets Amanda tagged as a lord’s mistress, and she and Lee spend the weekend at his ancestral hall to remedy the affair. Additional cases include:
- infiltrating a charity event where Amanda is refreshments director
- breaking up a “white slavery” ring that’s targeting Amanda using a guide dog charity for the blind (really? a middle-aged housewife is preferred to, say, a drunk college student? apparently, in this case, to “train the others”)
- Amanda going for spy training, accompanied by Lee posing as a new recruit and a killer who’s infiltrated the group
- trying to reconnect with the agency after they clear out and go underground in the face of a threat of a nuclear explosion — Amusing if only for the car chase with the station wagon and the hearse. And I think Castle did a similar storyline recently!
I’ve only had a chance to watch the first half of the season so far, and it’s wonderful escapist TV. Definitely from another time, with different expectations about pacing and storytelling and camera angles, but that’s what makes it a nice change. It’s not as frenetic as some current TV, not as demanding and thus a better choice to unwind with. It’s comfortable.
Still to come, in the second half of this season of the show: They pretend to be married to infiltrate a honeymoon cruise! Amanda is framed for treason! Someone who looks just like Amanda tries to kill Lee! Amanda is accused of murder! Someone tries to kill Lee and poisons Amanda instead! Wow, lots of near-death.
Amanda and Lee’s relationship continues to develop to friendship over this season, although they’re not yet in love. (They eventually got married.) I also noticed a slight wardrobe change. Lee’s still in a suit almost all the time, but now it’s only two pieces, with mostly the villains wearing three-piecers. (Hey, tracking what he looked like was one of the major reasons I watched the show.) You can view clips from the show at the official website. (The studio provided a review copy.)
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