Scarecrow and the Romance

At the Untethered conference, one of the more thought-provoking presentations was from the founder of College Humor, who talked about how and why videos go viral. One of the major factors in encouraging someone to connect with and pass along a video is the “candy corn” factor-  that common nostalgia centered on an object, moment, or common experience that you probably haven’t thought about in years.

I had a “candy corn” moment earlier today when I was thinking about tv shows that I saw early on which fed my interest in romance, specifically Scarecrow and Mrs. King. This was definitely one of my “romance foundation” shows, and I haven’t thought about it for years until the other day when the quote from the show popped into my head and I tweeted it later: “You can’t just walk into my life, hand me a package, tell me to give it to the man in the red hat, tell me you love me, & walk out again!”

Imagine my joy that the first season is available on DVD or via Netflix and iTunes.

I used to set the VCR to tape each episode as it ran in reruns at a time way past my bedtime. I figured out how to program the VCR, set it so it would use as little tape as possible, and fit nearly six episodes on each tape. I saw the first episode where they meet a LONG time after I found the show, and was shocked at how distant and rude Lee was to Amanda compared to how affectionate and eye-rolling tolerant he was in later episodes. Then once her family knew about him, it was a completely different dynamic compared to those early episodes where her even knowing him is a complete and utter secret.

The interesting thing about shows like Scarecrow, Moonlighting, Remington Steele, and the like is that they weren’t as satisfying for me once the couple resolved the tension and got together – “They Did It” pretty much killed the tension (and it jumped the shark) between Maddie and David, and it wasn’t as satisfying for me either once Scarecrow and Mrs. King emphasized that “and” between them. It was the little moments of tempting possibility that kept me watching – once her family knew about him and they were a couple, it wasn’t as … tense. And the reason to watch dissipated.

(Also, is it me or was it rather different at the time that Amanda was as single divorced mom heroine? I loved Amanda – she stood up for herself and followed her instincts and was unashamed and unabashed about being a mom, a housewife, and a smart woman. “Yes, yes, I’ll wait in the car,” and then she never did.)

Constrast that to my reading habits, where an extended series of will they-will-they-come ON ALREADY in a romance novel series drives me haywire batshit. I expect more resolution and faster development between protagonists in my romance fiction – which makes sense given the format differences even as I question my patience with television and my lack of patience with series that don’t develop as fast as I’d like. Maybe I’m too hard on my books.

Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series worked so well for me, though, backwards and forwards, by which I mean that once I read the book that featured the greatest romantic payoff and solidified my suspicions about who Mercy would end up with, I went back and reread the previous books to read more into the sparse moments between those two characters. Once I know where the romantic thread is going, I like to see it develop again with – which is why I rewatched early seasons of the X-Files while referencing a “shippers guide” that has since been taken offline, so I could watch for moments in the series between Scully and Mulder that reveal that gaspy-oh-yes-it’s-true feeling.

Then there are those shows that followed a couple who were already together, like Hart to Hart. Did you like those shows as much where the “couple” was already together, or Was the tentative smidgen-by-smidgen romance part of the fascination? I was a big fan of secret-couple series, where the circumstances surrounding the partners require that their connection be kept a total secret –
Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Beauty and the Beast being the two major examples in my entertainment nostalgia-journey. I was damn near obsessed with those shows.

What shows fed your romance habit? I know we’ve talked about romance on tv and in movies before, and MERCY STUDMUFFINS did I spend money on DVDs after those threads, but in this case, I want to know which tv shows about slowly-developing romances were your candy corn, the ones you look back on and think, “OH, I LOVED that show!”

Also, does anyone else have the theme to Scarecrow & Mrs. King stuck in their heads? Because it’s been the soundtrack of my day for hours now. Oy. Wait, let me help. MWAAAAHAHAHAHA.

Is there anything hotter than flying Bruce Boxleitner with a beige sweater tucked into his pants? No. No, there is not.

 

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    MicheleKS says:

    I would say that Remington Steele and Moonlighting lit the romance fire in me back in those days. I had a serious crush on Pierce Brosnan back then and- dang, I need to get that show on dvd just to see if it was as good as I remember.

    I also loved the episodes of shows where there was an oh-so-brief romance- I watched Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice like mad back then and the episodes where the guy got together with some babe where always some of my favorites.

  2. 2
    Nadia says:

    I adored “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”  And “Moonlighting” and “Remington Steele” as well.  I agree that the sexual tension was more satisfying than the payoff, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe the writers were better at emphasizing the flirty banter during the lead-up?  Once they were together, the focus was less on couple, and that’s not what hooked me?

    I don’t generally care for an open-ended book series where there is seemingly no resolution in sight for heroes and heroines, or an HEA from one book turns out later to not really be an HEA.  Iris Johansen pulled that in her “Eve Duncan” series, and while I get that she’s not really romance anymore, that’s not what I expected.  And I’ve never been able to get into the Stephanie Plum series.

    Perhaps that explains my deep and abiding child-love of “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island”:  the resolution, for good (or even sometimes bad), by the end of the vacation.  Certainty is very appealing when real life is anything but.

    As to the marrieds, J. D. Robb gets Eve and Roarke together pretty quickly and that works for me (so far, I’ve only read about half, as I’m pacing myself). And just finished “Changeless” and without getting into spoilers, let me say that I am waiting impatiently for September to find out what happens next for our already-together hero and heroine.  The author is either a genius, or I will hate her for the rest of my life. ;)

  3. 3
    Beth says:

    Gilmore Girls. That show was all sorts of brilliant.

  4. 4
    Sarah W says:

    I was all about Scarecrow and Mrs. King—the season where they finally figured out they loved each other was wonderful . . . but you know, I did stop watching after that.

    Right now, Leverage is my romantic tv fix. It’s also my intelligence, snappy dialogue, Robin Hood, secret criminal heart fix, but I digress.

    Nate and Sophie have been dancing around each other for two seasons, were separated for half a season during which he figures out she was essential, had a killer kiss in the finale of season two, and now the dance has changed—as in, Nate’s decided to do more than just shuffle his feet and turn in a circle. . .

    The relationship between Parker and Hardison has changed, too.  Just when Hardison’s stopped following Parker around like a puppy dog, she’s figured out that maybe these weird feelings she’s been having lately are about him (she’s really not good at interpreting feelings—or having them).  She’s still got to figure out that love can mean pain, but it’s worth it.

    i can’t wait for the next episode!

  5. 5
    queenaeron says:

    I hate Hate HATE those will-they-won’t-they shows. I’ve been going through that crap with one of my favorite shows Chuck. Lois & Clark, Moonlightlighting, Scarecrow and Mrs. King…ARGH! No offense! :-) Personally I think it all goes back to Cheers and bad characters. Sam and Diane had sexual tension, but nothing in common. Heck, they weren’t even truly likable characters. So you put them together and where could you go with it…nowhere. But with the other shows you had fun characters played by decent actors and interesting writing. The thing about “will they, won’t they” is that it gets boring after a while. There is only so many extra “insert gender”-friends you can toss between them, evil villians, or frog eating clones before the viewers say Blah.

    In each of the shows above, if they had explored how the relationship changed while they continued doing their “day” job. David could still quip snarky while Maddie rolled her eyes at his antics, but the eye rolling was more loving while they dashed around the city solving their latest case. How do you resolve the fact that the person you love is putting themselves in danger and still let them be themselves. There is drama and comedy in real life as there is in TV life. Personally, I chalk it up to lazy writing. It’s easier to say “Oh it was the Moonlighting Curse” than to get in there and make the relationship work within the confines of the story.

    I’m hopeful that the creators of Chuck will reverse this trend, but I’m not entirely holding my breath, just in case! :-)

    Bruce Boxleitner is one of those men who gets sexier as he ages. Try watching him in a military pants and white shirt a la Babylon 5…yum! Chuck even had him and my other fav actor Scott Bakula on, but they never did a scene together. That would have rocked my world! :-)

  6. 6
    Sycorax says:

    I was a Ballykissangel fan as a teenager – though I thought they way they chose to end the sexual tension was a massive cop out. I lost interest after that. Still, I have fond memories of my frustration and anticipation as the tension played out, season after season.

    The series I’m most sentimental about is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there was always some suspended sexual tension going on there. At various points I shipped Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Spike, Willow/Oz and Willow/Tara.

    On a vaguely related topic, I’ve just gotten my hands on the 1950 adaptation of Georgette Heyer’s The Reluctant Widow. Apparently it’s terrible, but I’m intrigued.

  7. 7
    Joanne says:

    My absolute favorite was The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It wasn’t as good as the movie but still:  A dead sea captain, a widow alone in a (how did she ever afford that?)  house on a cliff. Sigh. I’m sure it wasn’t as good as I remember so I’m never going to search out the re-runs.

    Route 66 wasn’t really a romance series but there was something so sexy about two guys who both love a corvette. (it’s a wonder I’m not that crazy about menage stories now).

    And Buffy and Angel. And now Angel turned FBI agent in love with Temperance on Bones.

  8. 8
    Sarah W says:

    Sorry for the double comment, but I went from here to find Lee’s proposal to Amanda (‘cause i don’t ahve to clock in for another five minutes) and found “Scarecrow and Mrs. King Romance Lessons” on YouTube!

    Part one is here.  These are so great, I had to share!

  9. 9

    And now, I must try to finish a historical with the theme from S & Mrs. K stuck in my head.  Because it’s not going away, until I go to netflix

    I loved all of those shows.  Especially Remington Steele, because Pierce Brosnan was so damn hot.  Mulder and Scully broke my heart in the last season, for going so totally off the rails.

    And the very last epsiode of Moonlighting, if anyone has seen that, is blisteringly funny.  They address the fact that they ruined everything.  Miss DiPesto marries Mr. Viola.  And there is an exchange were Dave and Maddie think “Why don’t we get married?  Too late.  No one’s watching anymore.”

    Sad but true.

  10. 10
    Bri says:

    I echo Bones and Booth in Bones – love that story!

    However, i think in many shows, when the leads get together the show suffers, so i kinda hope that the show runners keep the tension going until they are ready to end the show.  felt that way about Harm and Mac on JAG and i think in a different way there is that tension Between Benson and Stabler on Law and Ordeer SVU (there were other things there too, like marriages),  and the Alias – i STILL think Michael Vartan is swoonworthy ;)

    i think there either needs to be the push/pull relationship or the couple needs to be together from the get go and we see the challenges of the marriage – like in Parenthood or as was referenced as in Eve and Roarke.  i know there were other examples of this but can’t think right now.

  11. 11
    MelB says:

    I loved, loved, LOVED Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I was addicted to that show and commandeered the living room TV each week, ticking off my family. I have to admit I loved it even after they got together. They were so good at taking care of each other.  Dave and Maddie, not so much, I think it was because they were a totally different dynamic.

    Oh and can’t wait for the new Tron, Bruce is back on the big screen. Yay!!!

  12. 12

    I don’t think I regularly watched Scarecrow and Mrs. King when it was on, but a good friend of mine ADORED that show, and she waxes nostalgic about it to this day. :)

    But! It was definitely on my radar enough that when Babylon 5 started up, I was all “wait what, Scarecrow on a space station”? AND I gotta admit, Mr. Boxleitner was terribly swoonable.

    Me, I was totally a Remington Steele girl. And I DO have the whole series on DVD now, and yeah, it’s just as fun for me to go back and rewatch it as it was to watch it the first time. But now I think I may have to actually watch some Scarecrow!

  13. 13
    DS says:

    I watched a show here and there on Remington Steele, SC& Mrs. K and Moonlighting, but I was doing shift work part of the time and never got attached to one—ok, I hated Moonlighting because I every time I caught it the two main characters seemed to be fighting.

    I did religiously watch X-files up to Post-Modern Prometheus.  I don’t care how many Emmys it was nominated for, it was the Jump the Shark moment for me with that show.

    I own and rewatch many of the earlier shows and I really enjoy the interaction between Muldar and Scully—Coprophagia is a favorite with Scully being so nonchalant about Mulder’s reports until he mentions the etymologist named Bambi.  Then she decides this needs to be checked out in person.

  14. 14

    Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, the romantic arc of Rockford and his lawyer, all romantic touchstones for me. But 2 British series that you can get on NetFlix also did it for me. Check out Spaced (couple rent flat as couple-even though they aren’t a couple) and Dr. Martin- (can uptight doctor and touchy feely school principal bridge the gap).

  15. 15
    Laurel says:

    Oh, Sarah! Scarecrow, Beauty and the Beast, Remington Steele! Be still, my heart. Remington Steele has at least three seasons up on Hulu, btw. The first season, especially, totally holds up. They had the nostalgia factor going in that one with the old movie references and the wardrobe for Laura had lots of hints at classic Bacall and Hepburn looks so now it’s like candy corn squared.

    The format definitely matters and I can’t figure out why. In books, I do fine with a series where they get together and still have a ways to go. In television, the hour long shows fall apart for me after the sexual tension is resolved. In sitcoms, it can go either way. But generally if the major couple is already together I’ll stay hooked in on a thirty minute sitcom but not an hour long drama/suspense/mystery/forensic whatever. Writers have obviously figured this out since Bones has come up with some of the most bizarre hurdles for romantic momentum that I have yet encountered.

    Books do get a little more wiggle room since you can get inside the head of the character. In the last Mercy Thompson novel, the relationship tension wouldn’t play well on screen. You have to be able to mind read to understand they are still working things out.

  16. 16

    Oooo, I loved Scarcrow & Mrs King. I did enjoy Remington Steele too, but didn’t really like Moonlighting. Cybill Shepherd yes, Bruce Willis meh.

    It was movies that gave me romance – Fred Astaire movies, plus How to Steal A Million with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, and of course, Casablanca.

    Buffy and Angel were series that later worked for me regarding the romantic angle, and I loved all the unrequited passions – Willow for Xander, Xander for Buffy, Spike for Buffy, Buffy & Angel, etc etc.

    Since then, the only series that has thrilled me romantically speaking was a British mini-series about the Civil War (ours, not yours ;-)) called The Devil’s Whore, about a woman striving to survive in 17th century Britain. The heroine is terrific, and there are two love interests.

    I also enjoy the companion relationships in recent Dr Who series. Sigh David Tennant, sigh….He’s doing a romcom called The Decoy Bride due out next year.

  17. 17
    Nadia says:

    Thinking about this more, and can’t believe I didn’t mention probably the main romantical influence of my childhood – Days of Our Lives!  Grandma and Mom watched it religiously and so of course it’s one of my early TV memories.  But you know, even when I was an early teen, it bothered me that couples weren’t ever allowed to just. be. happy.  I mean, Renee and Tony were kept apart by fighting parents, returned-from-the-dead wife, and even incest!  When they finally figured out they weren’t siblings?  She gets killed that night.  Seriously?!?  I was pissed, lemme tell you!  Maybe that early scarring is why I’m so hooked on the HEA now, LOL.

  18. 18
    Ann says:

    Sometime in the late 80s-lifetime started showing this show called “Cover Up” about SPIES!  LURVE!  and HUNKY MODELS! 

    I loved the tension between Dani and Jack Striker (Jon-Erik’s replacement). 

    I think that’s why I love romantic thrillers.  *sigh*  I just googled a ton of pictures trying to remember this guy’s real name.  I think I need to download them now…

    larger79—-Oh yes, he was featured in larger than 79% of my biggest adolescent fantasies!

  19. 19
    Nadia says:

    I just googled a ton of pictures trying to remember this guy’s real name.

    Wikipedia sez:  Antony HamiltonSomewhere in my attic is my old teenage scrapbook, and there is the cover of People magazine from when Jon-Erik died.  Sigh.  I loved that show, either guy.

    Mel Gibson on People when he first hit it big is also in that scrapbook.  Some crushes do not stand the test of time, LMAO!

  20. 20
    Nadia says:

    And now I can’t get “Holding out for a Hero” out of my head.

  21. 21
    Leslie H says:

    Funny you should ask…I loved Remington Steele and when I found them on Netflix I got disk one and…I couldn’t watch it. The actors real life silliness and petty jealousy overrides the sparks that should be there.

    On the other hand… McMillan and Wife downloadable from Netflix was a LOT hotter than I remember as a kid when I watched it. Even knowing Rock Hudson was gay!

    Another one: Perry Mason- I got the first season and whoa doggies! Bad Girls, sex, drugs, it has some VERY sharp edges.

    Paul Drake dating the ex-suspects, Della throwing books on the table because Perry was seeing a client without an appointment. Perry pulling lawyer hijinks that are SO illegal now. The Miranda didn’t come into existance until 1966, so the cops are scary too.

    Della and Perry… Not. Quite. Flirting. Erle Stanley Gardner said that if they had ever had sex his wife would have killed him because he based Perry on himself. Even so Della was very at home at Perry’s apartment cooking for him, and he bought her a LOT of dinners. He gave her a black pearl necklace with a trip to Fiji (I think) for her birthday in one of the 80’s movies. Yes, a trip with him. Yow!

  22. 22

    I am still a Chuck fan, now that they’ve gotten together.  But the show has it’s ups and downs.

    Although I am with Brussel Sprout.  Doctor Who.  All the way.  Every time I think they’ve run out of ideas for romantic tension, they come up with something new.

    And I LOVE the new season. Steven Mofatt was brilliant with Coupling and Jekyll and has put a lot of sizzle into the Doctor.

  23. 23
    Mfred says:

    Veronica Mars.  VERONICA MARS!  And Logan?!  Anyone?

    First they hate each other.  And then, forced to work together, they start to understand each other…  AND THEN WITH THE KISSING!! OMFG NDKJSBDF NSAJDFHNE!!@@11!!

    /fan girl explosion

  24. 24
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Sam and Annie in LIFE ON MARS (British version). Several couples from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, particularly Helo & Athena. And whoa damn, the Doctor and Rose from DOCTOR WHO (I still cry).

    For the way-back machine, I was obsessed with THE YOUNG RIDERS. A shy, hot young gunfighter and a fiery, clever girl dressed as a boy (because she needs to earn enough money to spring her brother and sister from an orphanage)? Sounds like a romance novel. You’ll not be surprised to learn that my fascination with romance and history began there.

  25. 25
    StacieH4 says:

    I watched all those shows Moonlighting, Remingtion Steele, Scarecrow & Mrs. King…loved them and still look for that relationship tension in shows today…Bones and Castle come to mind.
     
    I’m sure there were/are a bunch of sit-coms that use the same device…Who’s the Boss worked really well until the relationship between Tony and Angela developed.  My favorite show now is The Big Bang Theory and I was dead sure it would tank when Penny and Leonard became a couple so quickly.  I have to hand it to the writers though, their relationship is a mess—over already (or is it?)—and I’m still watching.  That could be the engineering geek in me though.

  26. 26
    Deb says:

    There was a term coined in the 1980s for certain television shows:  URST, which stands for “unresolved sexual tension.”  In shows like Scarecrow, Moonlighting, Cheers, and others, there was always the “will they or won’t they” or, more appropriately, “why don’t they” factor.  The key was to string the URST out until viewers began losing interest and then finally get the characters together.  Sadly, at that point, shows usually “jumped the shark” because the URST was what had kept lots of people watching.

    I think it’s different when you read a book versus watch a television show.  A book is finite, with only a limited amount of time to present its characters, plot, tension, and other elements.  A television show could (conceivably) go on for a long time and characters need to be developed more slowly.

  27. 27
    Mary S. says:

    I was a huge Lois & Clark fan when it aired.  Followed the early message boards and practised squeezing all the episodes possible on to one VHS tape like Sara mentions. 

    The odd thing about that show is that since the audience knew they were eventually going to be together (L&C got married on tv at the same time they got married in the comic book), half the folks on the boards were mad that they didn’t just “do it already” and half the folks enjoyed the tension and were willing to be strung along (I fell into this group).  I think everyone realized that the reason for watching would be over once they got together.  For me at least, this meant I was ok with stringing the relationship along as long as the writing was still fresh.

    Thanks for bringing back the good memories.  Maybe I need to dig out that “mixed tape” my friend made me of all my favorite L&C episodes.  mmmm 1990s Dean Cain.  numma numma.

  28. 28
    Zoe Archer says:

    God, I loved the theme music to Scarecrow.  It would play in my head as I would run into elevators as if someone was chasing me.  Between that and Remington Steele, my addiction and fascination to heroes both shady and charming was born.  Pierce Brosnan was my boyfriend, even though I was 11 and he was…not.  Watching these programs (the Young Riders—yes!) definitely helped fuel my imagination and got me writing what might now be termed fan fiction, which eventually led me to becoming a published romance author.  So, thank you Bruce and Pierce, for making all this possible.

  29. 29
    JennKnight says:

    I grew up in the 80’s but the show that really influenced my romance reading was JAG because there was a legitimate obstacle to even acknowledging how they felt, and also because Mac wasn’t being pressured to give up her career, something she loved and excelled at. (I liked the way the writers chose to resolve it, but the final episode was very hastily written and it showed.)

    I found that as the show went on, I developed a strong craving for strong, independent heroines like Mac, which is probably why I’m addicted to Bones now.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I think another reason I like these two is that the “will they or won’t they?” isn’t an element in every episode. It’s there, lurking in the background, and only comes to the foreground occasionally.

    Plus, David James Elliot and David Boreanaz are hot.

  30. 30
    Rachel says:

    When I first started reading romance, I used to occasionally abandon books after the first sex scene – or at least, I would have a very hard time getting interested in the book again. I was all about the lead-up! No doubt that came from TV. (And also possibly from the fact that I hadn’t been in a relationship, so the part before they were together, the part that I could imagine happening one day, was the part that I wanted. I couldn’t imagine actually being in a relationship, so the after didn’t grab me as much.)

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